The Portuguese trade agency held a wine tasting for the Irish trade recently. Even 10 years ago this would have been a fairly modest affair as the range of Portuguese wines in Ireland was relatively small. How things have changed, and for the better. There was an amazing array of excellent wines, covering every price, style and colour. I could have filled several months’ worth of recommended wines.
I bumped into Kevin O’Hara, who pioneered Portuguese wine in Ireland, and even succeeded in getting the wines listed in various Michelin star restaurants, quite an achievement in those days. I also chatted to Ben Mason of Wine Mason, who married his (Irish) wife in Portugal. The couple now import a range of excellent Portuguese wines, including the Conciso below and the Dão Rótulo 2018 (€19) that I featured earlier this year. Both wines are from Niepoort, an old Port house that has very successfully expanded into table wines.
At the tasting I also came across Pegos Claros Reserva, an old favourite of mine, great value for money at about €20, and widely available in independents and O’Briens. In addition to the wine below, Whelehans were showing half a dozen great Portuguese wines. Celtic Whiskey on Dawson Street has always championed Portugal and they have an excellent range of wines, including the FitaPreta featured here. O’Briens carries a very decent range, including their best-selling Porta 6.
You could divide the red wines into three categories: in general, those from warmer regions such as Alentejo tend to be richer and more powerful, Douro wines more structured and firm, while those from Dão are the lightest and freshest. Two of the wines featured here are white. Portugal produces some fascinating white wines. We may be familiar with Alvarinho and Vinho Verde, but Dão, Alentejo, Bucelas, Douro, Beira Atlântico, Bairrada and Lisboa all offer great white wines, made using local varieties.
Dão Touriga Nacional 2021, Mimo Moutinho, Edicao Limitado
Light, juicy morello cherries and blackcurrants with light tannins on the supple finish. Perfect with cold meats, mild cheeses or light chicken dishes.
Dão Quinta do Correio 2018
Delicious supple fresh red cherries and plum with a savoury twist. Fantastic value for money. Roast pork or braised lentils and aubergines.
From: Whelehans, Loughlinstown
FitaPreta Branco 2021, VR Alentejo
Medium bodied with creamy apples, grapefruit and a crisp dry finish. With grilled chicken or butternut squash gratin.
From: Martin’s, D3; Gibney’s, Malahide; Sweeney’s, D3; Redmonds, D6
Niepoort Dão Conciso Branco 2019
A stunning wine with a great intensity of precise lemon zest, pear, minerals and almonds. With Portuguese salt cod stew (Bacalhau) or the pungent spreadable Serra da Estrela cheese.
From: Avoca; Redmonds, D6; Lilith Wines, D7