2010 Trajarinho Vinho Verde

Taking a break from Oregon let’s get back to finishing off my Summer Top 10 Whites list. Those paying attention were likely wondering where this one was. A fave in 2009 it seems destined to be so for many years to come. Get it if you can!

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Vinos Unico

What They Said:

2010 Trajarinho Vinho VerdePer K&L Wines “Back again is this delicious vinho verde: fizzy, ripe and juicy, while maintaining a refreshing dryness, warm weather white wine does not get much better than this! This is one of our favorites: crisp, citric, relatively low in alcohol and in a classically dry style. Don’t let the deliciousness fool you, though; this white offers up a whole lot more complexity than the humble price might suggest. More than likely, one could attribute this amazing quality to two factors: First, the rock solid reputation and focus on quality of the Adega Cooperativo Regional de Monçao; and second, their reliance on Trajadura and Alvarinho grapes, which deliver wine of greater complexity and texture than the Paderña grape so commonly grown in the rest of the Vinho Verde region.”

What I Think:

(11.5%) 60% Alvarinho, 40% Trajadura – A long standing summer favorite of mine this one is always a crowd pleaser. Pale gold in the glass with a green tinge. Lively on the palate with a slight spritz and primary grapefruit flavors with lemon citrus. The mid-palate show a firm, clean acidity with a nice mineral depth that gives this one much more complexity than you should expect at $9. From there the quick dry, crisp finish leaves you instantly reaching for another sip. A fun, easy going with at home with brunch or by the pool (but please use plastic glasses ;) Just be careful because before you know it the bottle will be gone. On 2nd thought just buy a couple to begin with…

Rating: Buy It (and buy more than one! I’m at 6 and counting for the summer…)

Summer Stash: Revisting the Port4lio Tasting 2010

While I’m at home working on this post Luis (@VinosUnico) & Frank (@BlueDanubeWine) are busy driving the #25grapes bus all over California. Tonight they are in San Francisco which means I am decidedly in the wrong place. What is this #25grapes tasting you ask? You won’t come across your “ordinary” grapes here but rather a bunch you have likely never heard of (take a look), such as Bical, Maria Gomes, Crljenak Kastelanski and Irsai Oliver. Luckily for me I was able to join them for their Port4lio Tasting back in May and have been revisiting a handful of those wines throughout the summer. Which ones? Glad you asked…

a few Portuguese whites...

You’ll see two bottles of the Trajarinho (my review) but I think I drank more like a hundred. A perfect summer wine; ‘nuff said! The Muralhas ( my review of the ‘05) is a more refined version of Vinho Verde; just as crisp and refreshing but more structured and better fit to pair with a meal. a few reds...

The Urbanite Redart is another of my summer favorites and a wine I often recommend. Here is the review I posted to Grape Stories ; “(13.8%) 40% Cabernet, 30% Syrah and 20% Zinfandel – Big juicy blackberry fruit up front on a creamy vanilla backbone. Seems like it may go over the top but a solid dose of acidity kicks in to help maintain the balance and manage the plush, rich fruit. A smooth and pleasing full flavored wine with a warm, toasty finish showing hints of barrel spice that linger on nicely for some time. Nice depth/complexity for the price point!”
a few from off the beaten path...

The Hilltop (11%) shows a nice, light stony nose with peach notes. Light bodied with a firm mineral backbone and lemon stone fruits on the back of the palate. I found it clean, simple and pleasing. A perfect match for a sunny day. The Dingac (12%) is a light, juicy red that can be paired with meals where you might more traditionally reach for a white. That said it is lively and has enough acidity to stand up to the pasta I enjoyed with this one. The Crnko Jarenincan (1L, 11%) is floral driven and off sweet in texture with nice acidity. A pleasant, refreshing wine that though hailing from Slovenia enlists the common suspects in this blend of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. A fine quaffer with a pop top to boot…

There you have it. Have you had any of these? Any similar favorites to share? Either way would love to hear your thoughts via the comments below.

* I paid for all these wines with real American dollars though Luis at Vinos Unico did hook me up at wholesale cost. Thanks Luis!

2009 Trajarinho Vinho Verde

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Vinos Unico

What They Said:

2009 Trajarinho Vinho VerdePer K&L Wines “Classic, dry, fizzy Vinho Verde does not get much better than this! This is one of our favorites: crisp, citric, relatively low in alcohol and in a classically dry style. Don’t let the deliciousness fool you, though; this white offers up a whole lot more complexity than the humble price might suggest. More than likely, one could attribute this amazing quality to two factors: First, the rock solid reputation and focus on quality of the Adega Cooperativo Regional de Monçao; and second, their reliance on Trajadura and Alvarinho grapes, which deliver wine of greater complexity and texture than the Paderña grape so commonly grown in the rest of the Vinho Verde region.”

What I Think:

Vinho Verde and I have come a long way in the last two years. When I had my first bottle I was still pretty sure that Vinho Verde was a grape varietal. For those that may not know it is in fact a wine region nestled along the Douro river (map) near the Spanish border. Over the years I’ve appreciated and enjoyed a handful of these wines but attending the Port4lio Tasting back in May reopened my eyes to them. This is one of those I tried then and here were my notes; “An unoaked blend of 65% Alvarinho and 35% Trajadura this one clean and crisp with nice lemon flavors and a bit of spritziness on a very refreshing finish. At $9 everyone should have a bottle of this in their fridge”. So what happened when I spent a little more time with it?

More magic! Spritzy even on the pour. This one is potent & lively on the palate with creamy bubbles and a minerally finish with lingering lemon citrus notes. Crisp, tangy and refreshing. A steal of wine that is perfect for summer sipping. But that is not all folks. There is much more to this wine if you open your mind to it with an intriguing stony, mineral component. This wine is suited to pair with food and would be a perfect compliment for ceviche or a chilled seafood platter. I’ll second my recommendation from above that at $9 everyone should have a bottle (or 2) of this in their fridge.

I’ll have much more to come on Vinho Verde (attended a dinner this week where I tasted a bubbly, a ’98 and a red version) and the wines of Portugal (I grabbed 2 of each mentioned in the Portfolio Tasting post) over the summer. In the meantime give this one a try next time you’re spending a sunny afternoon on the patio. You can thank me later…

Rating: Buy It+

2005 Callabriga Dao Red

2005 Callabriga Dao RedPrice: $8.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Evaton Inc.

What They Said:

Per wine.com “CALLABRIGA DÃO 2005 is deep red in colour with lively aromas of fresh and ripe fruits, and has some notes of resin and aromatic herbs. Full-bodied, it is abundant and firm in tannins, with lively acidity. This acidity is still present on the finish which is lively with notes of fruits.

Callabriga Dão 2005 is produced from a blend of red varieties Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro Preto, expressing the region’s characteristic sensory liveliness.

#57 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2008″

What I Think:

I came across both this Dao and the Douro offering at Trader Joe’s. Having long coveted a TJ’s Portuguese offering (2nd only to my desire for a $5 quaffable Malbec) I grabbed both despite the $9 (lofty by my standard TJ’s price point) at first blush. For those that may not know Portugal has long been known for dessert wines and has only recently begun focusing on producing quality red wines for exports (I know this is a massive generalization). The good news for those of us stateside is that are ultra-affordable. One of my first wine loves was a $9 bottle of Ramos Pinto, ever since I’ve been smitten with these offerings.

Now onto this one, pure pleasure from the start. Rich blackberries on the nose with pepper and mint in the periphery. The color is a dense purple. On the palate you are greeted with flavorful fruit on a dry, leathery, backbone which lingers/tickles on a lasting finish. Velvety smooth and smoky throughout. Warning! I like drier reds and am a sucker for Portugal. That said this is the best sub $10 bottle of Portuguese wine I’ve had in years…Skip the Douro, but splurge and grab a bottle or two of this now. Were it a few dollars cheaper I would likely be buying by the case.

Rating: Buy It

2005 Muralhas de Monaco Vinho Verde

Price: $12.99 @ Friend/Gift imported by Aidil Wines

What They Said:

Per everywine.uk “The cooperative Adega de Moncao started out in 1958 with 25 growers while today they have more than 1,600. An enjoyable white wine full of fruity peach and apricot aromas, it is well balanced, persistent, smooth with a dry flavour.”

What I Think:

After the champagne was finished we opened this bottle of Portuguese Vinho Verde that our friends had brought with them. At the time I had some misconceptions as to what Vinho Verde was all about. I had long wanted to try it but had always thought it was a lower end white offering which led me to believe I could find some values in this area. It is amazing how a quick trip to Wikipedia can clear up misconceptions, love that.

It is always interesting to drink a wine and then fill in the “they said” part afterwards. With my preconceptions of Vinho Verde fully in tact at the time of consumption it is interesting to see how this new knowledge compares to my tasting notes. Here they were brief as we had guests. This wine has a bouquet full of nectarines and like fruits. On the palate it was slightly champagne like with a light spritz and flavors of grapefruit leading to a dry finish. Definitely a young wine and it appears to be made to be consumed that way. Perhaps a little too much acid for me on the finish, but certainly a eye opening experience.

So now what I learned afterwards, first off Vinho Verde is not a grape, it is a wine growing area which translates to “green wine”. Not for the color but because they are meant to be consumed young, hey I got that part. This bottle was actually an albarino blend with trajadura. Wow, I never would have guessed! I had a great time getting to know this wine and will certainly be on the look out for more wines from this region next time I am in the store.

Rating: Wow!

NV Warre’s Warrior Porto

Price: $11.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Vineyard Brands

What They Said:

Per the winery “Warrior is the oldest mark of Port in the World, having been shipped continuously since the 1750s. The traditional style has been maintained over the years and is today a classic full-bodied wine with wonderful richness and balance. Aged in seasoned oak casks for 4 to 5 years before being drawn off and bottled following a light filtration. Warrior Special Reserve is ready for immediate drinking and does not require any decanting or ageing. Warre’s Warrior is a classic Special Reserve with dark, intense fruit – a superb Port in the traditional style and one of the finest available for everyday drinking.”

What I Think:

As mentioned with the dinner party I have had another scenario to envision, what to do with dessert wines? I have these around just for these occasions when we actually serve dessert, truth be told I am not and don’t hope to be a connoisseur in this area. My wife actually cares for them more than I do. On occasion, I’ll have one while out tasting or get one in a wine club shipment but barring that I am just scanning the bottles at TJ’s that is cost effective and hope inspiring, that is how this bottle ended up in the house.

Warre’s is part of the Symington Family Estates that is known for bottlings such as Dow’s and Graham’s. It is made from a blend of traditional Portuguese varieties from the Douro Valley though no percentages are listed here, bummer. With these grapes approximately 20% brandy is added to the mix to get us the final product which is kept in the barrel for five years. In the glass it has that ruby tint that one would expect, in the mouth it has the richness you are accompanied to be seems to lack the intensity and depth that I have come to know. This one seems on the lighter side with cherry-ish flavors riding on top of the oak from the barrel. These two aren’t all that well integrated which leaves the taste of brandy and tannins the dominate forces at the end. If there is one thing I need from my ports it is a lingering, enjoyable taste lasting long after I have put the glass down, this one doesn’t deliver. I don’t think it is worth the money, there surely must be cheaper/better port available.

Rating: Skip It