Showing posts with label Douro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Douro. Show all posts

Friday, March 1, 2024

A balanced, complex and elegant Douro red: Antonio Lopes Ribeiro Douro

Antonio Lopes Ribeiro Douro (DOC) 2020, 13.5% ABV,

RRP €25.00; stockists: Sonas, Newcastle West. Mary Pawle


A balanced, complex and elegant Douro red

The spectacular Douro region in Portugal (a World Heritage Site),  is well-known for its port and the area’s red still wines are produced from much the same grapes. This excellent Antonio Lopes Ribeiro includes Touriga-Franca (60%), Touriga-Nacional (10%), Tinta-Roriz (10%), Tinta-Barroca (10%) and Sousão (10%).

The name Antonio Lopes Ribeiro may be familiar to some readers as he co-owns Casa De Mouraz, a small natural wine estate based in the Dao region of Portugal, and “Antonio Lopes Ribeiro” is reserved for their wines from the Duoro and Vinho Verde. Some of their excellent Mouraz wines are also imported by Mary Pawle and are unmistakeable on the shelf as the labels feature the estate’s well-loved pets: Bolinha (Maltese dog), Chibu (goat) and Nina (cat).

Via Pixabay (by Andrew McLeod

Back to our Douro which is quite a dark ruby. Aromas are a heady mix of dark fruits (blackberry and cherry) along with some herbal notes. With more fruit and herbs on the palate, it is balanced, complex and elegant. Perfect all the way to the finish.

Very Highly Recommended. 

Check out  our Top Wines 2024 list (with stockists and short reviews) here 

Looking for better value? All under 20 euro. Click here

The grapes are grown on three vineyards in the Upper Duoro where the soil is mostly schist with some clay outcrops. On these slopes you see plenty of rock roses, thyme and rosemary flowers amongst the stones.

This unoaked beauty is well worth looking out for. The vineyard’s suggested pairings are kid or lamb as well as stewed veal (or cooked in the oven). Also goes well with white meat and game dishes or vegetarian dishes such as mushrooms. Over to you!

Sunday, August 22, 2021

A superb double from the Douro including a stunning White Half Dry Port .

A superb double from the Douro including a stunning White Half Dry Port. 

Casal Dos Jordōes Porto White Half Dry, 19%, 

€26.00 Limited availability. Manning's Emporium Ballylickey; Mary Pawle

Another treasure of the Douro!

This wine represents the Jordão family tradition of generous wines of quality. “All our vineyards are located in the river Torto valley with the rigorous selection of the best grape varieties of the Douro region to create excellent wines. The predominant varieties are the Malvasia Fina, Rabigato, Viosinho, Gouveio (Verdelho) and Côdega do Larinho.”

White port is made from white grapes, such as those above. You’ll find it in a variety of styles from dry to very sweet. You’ll see a lot of sweet white port with tonic water in glasses in the Port wine area. You can also find white port with a crisp dry finish and my favourite in this style, introduced in 1934 (the port, not me!), is Taylor’s Chip Dry.

And this is a new favourite! I had noted the recommendation to mix it with tonic but once I tasted it neat, I postponed that option, indefinitely! The pleasure on the palate is just so immense - you need nothing else at all. With its golden robe, its intense and complex aromas of dried fruit, all of which follow through to the palate, I knew I had found a magnificent and unusual wine that I would be so glad to hang around with. And that feeling was confirmed immediately by my coconspirator. Very Highly Recommended.

Casal dos Jordões has been in business since 1870, always in possession of the Jordões family. But for a long time, they sold their wine in bulk. Then, in 1994, they started bottling their own and went on to become leaders in organic port production. And our white is a terrific example of their craft.

Casal Dos Jordōes Grande Reserva Douro (DOC) 2011, 14%

€23.00 New to the portfolio; queries to Mary Pawle

This full-bodied dark-ruby wine comes from the hot and dry Douro region of Portugal and is made from much the same grapes as port. Intense ripe fruit aromas, including a touch of fig, some toasty touches too. No shortage of those fruit flavours in the slightly sweet spicy palate. It is voluminous, round, with a beautiful structure and a persistent finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca are the grapes featured, all organic and grown on shale soil (from the same family as schist). Interestingly, both hands and feet are used in the transition. Picking is manual and the grapes are then crushed by foot in the lagar (a large stone trough). They say the technique permits great extraction of colour and long tannins.

Pairings recommended are tapas, grilled meat (especially lamb), grilled veg, strong casseroles. By the way, there is a possibility of some natural sediment, so decant if you wish. I did, but didn’t notice any sediment at all.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

If Douro or Duero is on the bottle label, you're on an Iberian winner. The River and its Wine.

The River and its Wine

The river begins its journey in the centre of the north of Spain and is called the Duero. Five hundred miles to the west, it enters the Atlantic at Porto where it is now called Douro. Not quite a river of wine but there is no shortage of the drink as you travel from east to west, from Spain to Portugal. Our first bottle below comes from the Spanish area known as Ribera del Duero (ribera means riverbank). In Portugal, the amazingly scenic Douro is perhaps best known as the home of Port but here too you will find excellent still wines such as the example below from Quinta Da Esteveira. 

Viña Fuentenarro “4 Mesas En Barrica” Ribera Del Duero (D0) 2018, 14%, 

Tempranillo, in many Irish people’s minds, is the grape of Rioja. And it is. But, since the end of the 20th century, the 300 plus bodegas of Ribera Del Duero are also laying a strong claim to the grape by making some excellent wines with it.

This deep red Fuentenarro (from a family owned winery) is a 100% Tempranillo. Traditional aromas of black berry fruit, touch of spice. Big intro of fruit and spice, no shortage of acidity either, juicy yet dry. Powerful start eases smoothly down to  super-long finish. One to sip - a little goes a long way - and enjoy your long lunch or dinner as the sun goes down. Very Highly Recommended. That it is well priced is a bonus.

Wine has been produced in this beautiful region since Roman times, though it became well known outside of Spain only in the 1990s. North west of Madrid and south west of Rioja, in the Castilla y León region, the vines grow on a flowing swathe of land that’s approximately 115 kms long and 35 kms wide. 

The vast majority (including Fuentenarro, near La Horra) grow in the province of Burgos but some too in Segovia, Soria (Antidoto, for example) and Valladolid.

Two related factors that make Ribera different are the average altitude of 850 metres and the big variations in summer between the heat of the day and the cool of the night. The heat of the day promotes the ripening, the chill of the night preserves acidity. 

Casel Dos Jordões Quinta Da Esteveira Reserva Tinto Douro (DOC) 2014, 14.5%, €15.20 Mary Pawle

This organic Portuguese blend is a dark red colour. Rich and ripe aromas. Smooth, fruity and a bit spicy, a lovely mouthful with a good finish as well. Highly Recommended. Pretty well priced too.

The label indicates the blend is composed of 70% Touriga Franca, 20% Touriga Nacional, 10% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo in Spain). It also recommends pairing with meat dishes, cheese, smoked meats and roasted chestnuts. 

Two of the grape varieties, the two Tourigas, are also used in the production of Port. The Jordoes family began producing wine from terraced vineyards on the slopes above the river Torto in 1870 and, since 1994 have championed the production of organic port. They are just one of quite a few Port producers also involved in still wine (no big surprise there!).

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Amazing variety of Portuguese vines detailed in masterclass by ace winemaker Antonio Braga.

Antonio (pic via Sogrape)

Superb masterclass on amazing variety of Portuguese vines by enthusiastic ace winemaker Antonio Braga.

“There’s a vast array of grape varieties in Portugal, a vast array of indigenous grapes that few of us know anything about” said Liberty Wines MD David Gleave as he introduced  Sogrape Vinhos winemaker Antonio Braga, one of the brightest talents on the Portuguese scene, making wine from Vinho Verde to Bairrada and Lisboa, to this week’s online masterclass. “Antonio is a great guy, a great winemaker and great that we’ve got him here today.”

Antonio has worked in most areas in Portugal, having started with the Douro reds. “Now he is mainly looking at white”. Also with the same aims though: balance, character and terroir, to present the best expression of the terroir in red, rosé and white. With the whites in Portugal there is a strong Atlantic influence, cool in Vinho Verde and around Lisbon. The Douro and Alentejo are warmer and so you get more reds here.

Arinto was the first grape he spoke about, known as Pedernã in Vinho Verde. As Antonio said there may be over 300 indigenous grapes in his country but many more names! He reckons, because here you find it in its greatest DNA variability, that this one was “born in Bucelas”, next to Lisbon. It is a “good variety, travels well, even inside Portugal.. it presents a few challenges though and canopy management is important.”

Next up was another white grape, the Alvarinho (better known as Albarino in  neighbouring Rias Baixas). David Gleave told us and Antonio that he loves the Alvarinho at Azevedo, “a different style” to that across the border. Antonio though hinted that there is more to come from Azevedo. “Still work ongoing to improve it… studies going on… We’ll be able to deliver better in the future.”  And he also said that the Alvarinho blend with Loureiro (another local white) is “more than happy”.

Later, during the Q & A session, Antonio spoke on the different styles of the Alvarinho. “We are always experimenting both in the vineyard and winery. So many different tools to work with.” One of the main ones would seem to be the endless enthusiasm and curiosity of Antonio himself.

He also loves the texture of wines made from the relatively recent Sercialinho grape with its classical aromas, vibrant and crisp acidity. Other Portuguese white grapes that you may have come across: Loureiro, Encruzado, Trajadura, Bical, Rabo de Ovelha, Gouveio, Viosinho and Sercial.

Alfrocheiro was the first red he spoke on, “a new passion for me”. He acknowledged it was hard to pronounce but “worth the effort to get a glass!”. “Now is the time for Alfrocheiro,” he declared.

Though he is now concentrating on white wines, “still in my heart is Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional”. The Franca,  he says, “is very consistent” while the Touriga is “the queen.. amazing… lots of floral aromatics.. great balance… love to use it in blends with the Franca…”

Other red grapes that you may have come across:  Vinhão/Sousão, Alicante Bouschet, Tinta Amarela, Rufete, Bastardo, Tinta Cão, Jaen, Tinta Roriz, Castelão

There’s much work going on at official and other levels in an attempt to classify and preserve the native Portuguese varietals and David Gleave asked Antonio, during the Q & A, if there are any surprises out there. He answered: “So many varieties… a world of secrets to be discovered… an adventure.. As winemakers, we will discover these wine treasures and present them to the market."

One questioner worried about the survival of Field Blends.
Antonio: “I like to blend, I like to test. Back in the 80s there were many blind moves but nowadays it is more cautious, more testing. If we like them, we keep them. We try to keep the field blend alive. It is part of our patrimony, very important.”

He was asked about oak and had he a preference as to where it comes from.
Antonio: “Focus is on the final product. I want to show origin, not cooperage, but a good barrel is wonderful for wine! Must be top quality, no matter from where, don’t like to buy at second level.”

Does he compare international varieties? He had earlier touched on Alvarinho and Albarino.
“I love comparisons, great for learning. I’m inventive, like challenges. The blend of the Tourigas is close to Bordeaux.”
The Touriga Franca as a stand alone varietal?
“I love it but, on its own, tends to be unidirectional. But works very well in blends.”

Organic, sustainability, climate change came up in a few questions.
Antonio: Focus is more and more on sustainability. I would
l like to present more organic and biodynamique but we still haven’t made that move but that’s the trend.”  David Gleave did point out that it is easier to go organic in the warm areas (Douro and Alentejo), but would take longer in Vinho Verde and Antonio agreed.

Dennis of Liberty Wines, our usual doorman, coordinated the Q&A session and had one himself towards the end, asking Antonio his opinion of Encruzado.
Antonio admitted to falling love with it. “It grows in complexity as it ages, is great for oak ageing. It has a wonderful gastronomic ability to cut through fatty foods. It is an autumn wine, a fireplace wine. It may not be in fashion but it is a wonderful variety, wonderful to work with.”

And, on that upbeat note, we left the meeting, as they say on Zoom. 

* All pics are screenshots from the masterclass.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Some terrific wines to look out for in the current O'Brien promotion.

As you probably know, the current O'Briens Wine promotion is up and running and will go on until the end of December. Not too sure if the two beauties below will last that long. One is biodynamic, the other is organic, and both are Very Highly Recommended. You'll find four other sale wines covered below as well, along with brief descriptions of what organic and biodynamic, and a few other wines terms, mean, terms that keep popping up on labels these days.

Musella Valpolicella Ripasso (DOC) Superiore 2016, 14%, €20.95 (22.95)

This biodynamic wine from near Verona comes in a mid to dark ruby robe. Superb intense aromas of ripe cherries. And cherry flavours are richly concentrated on the palate, a matching acidity, the mouthfeel soft, the tannins sweet. And there’s a fruity and well balanced finish. Really excellent wine, another Very Highly Recommended for you.

The concentration here is the result of the Ripasso method. Ripasso (re-passed) wines are made by fermenting young wine with the unpressed but drained skins and lees left over from making Amarone and this process can give the  Ripasso a “super-charge”. Read more details about the method here

In this case, the winery tells us this is “ripassato” on unpressed skins of Amarone “to earn colour and structure”. The blend here is the usual threesome of Corvina (the main grape), Rondinella, and Barbera and it has spent 12 months barrel ageing (French oak). Suggested pairings are cold meats/pâtés, Duck, Nutroast, Pheasant/Pigeon, Pizza/Pasta, Rib-Eye Steak, Sirloin/Striploin/Rump steak

Musella, as well as turning out rich satisfying ripassos, are also one of the 'Twelve Amarone Families', a group of the very best producers in the region in North East Verona.

By the way, I was just reading there in Vino Italiano that Valpolicella means “valley of many cellars” (vallis polis cellae). The Modern History of Italian Wine debunks that theory though, saying the POL refers to large mounds of sand and gravel left behind after flooding in the local river but goes on to confirm that “this great land of wines has always practiced the characteristic technique of over-ripening and drying the grapes”.

Symington Altano Vinho Tinto Douro (DOC) 2018, 14%, €12.45 (17.45)

Colour of this beautifully balanced organic red wine from the Douro valley in Portugal is a deep garnet. Scents of ripe red fruits are noted. On the palate it is fresh, smoothly intense, a sweet hint of smooth tannins and, with good acidity, is harmonious all the way through to a long finish. Very Highly Recommended and fantastic value at the moment.

This wine is made with 100% organically grown grapes from the family’s vineyards, the family being the Symingtons, a leading winemaking family who have been making Port in the Douro for five generations.

As you know, much the same grapes are used for port as for still red wine. The grape varieties for the Altano are Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional and Tinto Cão. The advice is to serve at 14 to 17 degrees centigrade. It is evidently ready for immediate consumption but “has the potential to continue developing favourably up to 6 years.”

Two excellent wines from South America feature in O'Brien's current promotion.

Dozens and dozens of wines are reduced in the current O'Brien's promotion that runs up to the end of the year. I've picked a few and have a couple of South American beauties below for you. Some of the others are pretty good too and I'll come to those in the next week or so. In the meantime, check out this magnificent Malbec from over 1,300 meters in the Andes foothills - that's higher than Carrauntoohill. The other, a Cinsault, a very pleasant light red, comes from the highly regard Di Martino winery in Chile.

Once upon a time, we bought red and white and maybe rosé. But now you'll see organic, biological, natural, even orange on labels. Can be confusing, I know. O'Brien's have put a handy leaflet together to explain the terms and I'll reproduce parts here from time to time. The first two are below - hope they help!

Casa de Uco El Salvaje Malbec Los Chacayes (IG) 2016, 13.5%, €16.95 (19.95)

Purple is the colour of this organic wine from a high altitude vineyard in the Mendoza region of Argentina. The rich aromas of ripe dark fruit rise to meet you. And on the palate the big flavours (plum, dark cherry and blackberry) are matched by an excellent acidity, a harmony relayed to the decent finish (not overly long). An immediately engaging wine and Very Highly Recommended. Just 2,500 bottles are produced and the wine has been fermented in large concrete eggs.

Los Chacayes is one of four wine areas in Tunuyan in the Uco valley. The vineyard Casa de Uco is located in the valley, tucked against the foothills of the Andes Mountains, and close to Mendoza. El Salvaje (wild) also figures prominently on the label and is the overall name given to a series of organic wines that also includes, among others, a Pinot Noir and a white blend.

This wine is 100% Malbec from certified organic vineyards located at 1300 metres above sea level. This elevation maintains the fresh acidity in the grapes. Unoaked, this is a pure expression of the Uco Valley terroir. 

Enjoy with beef, lamb or char-grilled vegetables. In Argentina, I’m told they pair it with juicy Sirloin of pork, Braised lamb shoulder with roasted parsnips, or Fillet steak with chimichurri. Wine Folly says the perfect Malbec Food Pairing is Black pepper buffalo burgers with blue cheese mushrooms and rosemary infused garlic kale chips. Sounds great to me.

Alberto Antonini, Winemaker Casa de Uco, is enthusiastic: "After 16 years of experience in the Uco Valley, I can affirm that this is the exact area where the best wines of Mendoza are produced. The proximity to the Andes Mountains, the ideal day to night temperature ranges, and the fertile soil with excellent drainage, make this land exceptional to produce high end wines and develop the viticulture and enology in the most natural way possible"

De Martino “Gallardia” Cinsault Itata (DO) 2017, 13%, 14.95 (19.95)

This delightful 100% Cinsault is a light ruby, quite like Pinot Noir. Aromas are rather intense: red fruit (including raspberry) mainly, plus floral elements. Mouthfeel is soft. Smooth and fresh on the palate, the raspberry prominent again, good acidity too, and a pleasing finish as well. Highly Recommended. Maybe Very Highly Recommended if you love these light dry reds as many people do nowadays.

De Martino say this, from their Guarilihue vineyard (22km from the sea), “is a tribute to the coastal vineyards located by the southern region of Chile; it is the cradle of the country’s viticulture, with vines dating back to 1551…. A sustainable agriculture, including dry farming and ploughing with horses are practiced in our vineyards.”

Wines of South America has a very high regard for De Martino and have included some of their wines in Top Ten varietal lists. De Martino winemaker Marcelo Retamal is one of the country’s most accomplished and is known as el doctor.  “He uses no new oak, preferring larger older casks, nd promotes the use of the old ceramic tinjaras, clay amphorae, for fermentation. There are no cultivated yeasts, no filtration, and no intervention.”
Head South For This Smashing Pair,
 One White, One Red.
Or Just Head to O'Brien's!

(Below, you'll find notes on two wine terms that are now current and, also a chance to read over the other four wines picked from O'Brien's November December promotion, a versatile "six-pack" for the holidays.

Domaine Begude “Etoile” Chardonnay Limoux (AOC) 2018, 13.5%, €18.95 (21.95)

Beautiful mid-gold colour. The aromatics are quite complex, regular fruit (such as apple and pear) along with the exotic (mango) in the mix. It is certainly more of the exotic on the rich palate, quite a rounded almost creamy mouthfeel, more complex than most French Chardonnays (not that there is such a thing as a typical Chardonnay as the chameleon grape makes itself at home wherever it finds itself), good acidity too though, so the long finish is harmonious.

This Highly Recommended wine should be fine with salmon and trout, with roast chicken (even roast turkey!). The winery also says it is “heavenly with Comté & other hard cheese”. Worth a try so with Hegarty’s Templegall though I know cheesemaker Jean-Baptise may prefer a Saint-Emilion.

This certified organic wine, full-bodied and smooth, is crafted from Chardonnay grapes high in the cool climate region (hot summer days and cool nights) of Limoux. Fertilised using only natural manures and cultivated with the utmost respect for the environment, this wine is vinified and matured in the very best French oak to bring you “our finest cuvée, Etoile”.

Colour is a dark red. Intense nose of dark fruits, notes of spice, perhaps a hint of the garrigue, the scrub that thrives around here. I once stayed in a gite in Languedoc owned by a Madam Garrigue. Like the senior citizen Madame, this wine is amazingly smooth (the madame used tidy up the pool in her bikini every evening). Must say that gite was great value for money and I can indeed say the same about this Prestige, fresh, and full of fruit, enhanced by nine months in oak. No pesticides, no herbicides, just excellent value (more so with the current reduction). 

Garrigue, by the way, is a feminine noun. And since I’m on gender, the French language version of the label indicates that Syrah is feminine while Carignan and Mourvedre, the other two in this blend, are masculine!

O’Brien’s tell us that Caraguilhes is completely organic, “this estate was using organic techniques when it was virtually unheard of anywhere else”. The Prestige is their oak-aged Reserve wine and is a seriously stylish wine. 

As regards keeping the wine, the winery advices that while it has potential of 6 or 7 years, it can be drunk today. Decant one hour in advance and serve at around 15 degrees. Food pairings: Provencal lamb (if you don’t have Herbes de Provence, try thyme, sage and rosemary), roast grilled beef with olives, quail in truffle sauce. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Couple of Portuguese White Stars, including an Alvarinho Vinho Verde

Portuguese wines are on the rise. 

And not just the red ones. The whites too can be remarkable and we have two gems for you to try including a Vinho Verde - remember that little sparkler? I've noticed these excellent wines coming more and more onto the shelves over the past five or six years. I'm not the only one - check out the quotes below. Very good value a few years ago. That could be changing, but still good value. Buy now and try! 

Vinho Verde is one of Portugal’s most distinctive wines. Jancis Robinson. More here.

It's high time Portuguese wines were given the same respect we grant French, Spanish and Italian ones. The Guardian here.

Wines from Portugal have been enjoying impressive growth worldwide thanks to improvements in both the quality and range of wines over recent years. The Buyer Here

Morgadio da Torre Alvarinho Vinho Verde (DOC) 2015, 12.5%, €24.99 Bradley’s Cork;

Did you drink Vinho Verde back in the day? It had a little bit of fizz and was low in alcohol. Then, when we were also drinking Blue Nun and Black Tower and dipping our tongues in hostile foreign languages, we thought Vinho Verde meant green wine; it means young wine. 

And there is no spritziness here, natural or induced, but its absence is no loss at all. This Morgadio da Torre is far from the simple sparkler of our experience. More than likely that earlier Vinho Verde wasn’t made from Alvarinho (Albarino in Spain) as this one is.  

Alvarinho, often compared to Riesling, is one of seven grapes permitted in the DO; they regard it as “the most noble” grape of the region and is usually that bit more expensive. Other grapes that may be used are Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Batoca, Loureiro, and Trajadura. 

This dry aromatic Morgadio is certainly a wine of distinction, very enjoyable with fish and seafood and also as an aperitif. Colour is a light straw, very clear. There are fairly intense tropical fruit aromas. Fruity, fresh, mineral, are the first sensations noted on the palate. The fruit is pure and persistent, vibrant notes of lime and citrus prominent, the aromas at play all the way through to the very dry finish. The fact that it was a very good year in the area helped and this is Very Highly Recommended.

Casa Ferreirinha “Papa Figos” Vinho Branco Douro (DOC) 2016, 12.5%, €18.99 

Lots of different grapes in most Portuguese blends and this is no exception with Rabigato (55%), Viosinho (15), Arinto/Pedernã (15), Códega (10), and Moscatel (5) all in the mix here.

It has a pale straw colour. Attractive aromas, yellow fruit and floral notes. That attractive tropical fruit again features on the palate and is persistent, good acidity too. And an excellent finish as well on this fresh and vibrant wine. Very Highly Recommended.

After fermentation, roughly 20% of the batch was matured in used French oak barrels for three months; the remaining 80% was kept in stainless steel tanks. The wine went through careful fining and filtering before bottling to preserve the fresh fruit character.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Two Ports And A Tinto. A Taste of the Douro

Two Ports And A Tinto
A Taste of the Douro

Porto, on the Douro and the second biggest city in Portugal, is the home of Port. It is also known as Oporto. The long established wine-growing area is a World Heritage site and a gorgeous place to visit.

The modern style of Port can be traced back to 1678, when the Abbot of Lamego was adding brandy to the wine before it had finished fermenting. By arresting fermentation, he could retain the natural sweetness of the ultra-ripe Port-grape varieties and create a fortified wine capable of improving with age.
Read much more on the subject by here.

Taylor’s Fine White Port (Portugal), 20%, €19.99 Bradley’s

First you notice that lovely gold colour - sunset on the Douro, I wish!; and then the tears that are extra slow to clear. Then the rich aromas, mellow fruit. And it is full bodied, velvety on the palate and a great finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Taylor’s Fine White Port is a blend of wines produced from white grapes grown mainly on the upper slopes of the Douro Valley.  The grapes used include the Arinto, Boal (Semillon), Codega, Esgana Cão, Folgasão, Gouveio, Viosinho and Rabigato varieties.

The individual wines are aged in oak vats for about three years, where they acquire mellowness and character.  They are blended to produce a rich white port in the traditional smooth, full-bodied style.

Taylor’s pioneered dry white aperitif port more than 60 years ago under the Chip Dry label, first blended in 1934. That was the one I had intended to buy in Bradley’s but decided to try this, a much sweeter version.

You can drink it in the traditional way, chilled on its own, or with a twist of lemon, accompanied by roasted almonds, olives or dry biscuits. My favourite pairing though is with Barrie Tyner’s Cognac infused chicken liver paté (try catching him at the Mahon and Midleton markets). You’ll have a great laugh and a great paté. And now a great match!

Casal dos Jordoes Finest Reserve Port (Portugal), 20%, €17.20 (375ml) Mary Pawle Wines

Warm, sweet (not cloying) and spicy, this is your classic Port offering, tradition with high quality from organic grapes. Masses of fruit, excellent concentration from this Port which features the Touriga Francesca grape. Delicious on its own before and after meals and the importer’s tip is to try it with chocolate desserts! Highly Recommended

Casal dos Jordoes Quinta de Esteveira Douro Reserva Tinto 2011 (Portugal), 13.5%, €15.20 Mary Pawle Wines
Made from organic grapes (including Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca), the human touch is all important here. The grapes are harvested by hand and are then crushed “by feet of man”, part of a system “utilised by the Romans”, a tried and tested method that increases colour and tannin extraction.

That colour is a deep red and the tears are slow to clear. Aromas are of dark fruit, good and strong. Fruit, spice and acidity combine in quite an engaging mouthful and there is an excellent finish too. Made by the same vineyard that produces the port (above), this is Highly Recommended.