Some of the Best Wines You’ve Never Tasted

This past weekend I had a very tasty bottle of red wine that I will be going back to buy more of. It was a little over $13 for the bottle, and my friend and I enjoyed it very much!

It is from a wine producing country that I’ll bet you may not have ever considered, so let me tell you a bit more about their wines.

The country’s vineyards were originally planted by traders coming from ancient civilizations, including the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Greeks, and especially the Romans.

In fact, wine from this country was renowned throughout the Roman Empire for its taste and quality.

Modern export of this country’s wines began at the very beginning of the 18th century. In fact, it is the site of both the first designated wine producing region in the world, and today has two wine producing regions protected by UNESCO as World Heritage sites.

OK, do you know it yet? I’ll give you some more hints:

This country exports three times as much wine as New Zealand, and more than half as much as Argentina, yet there are currently only three of its reds listed on the Yukon Liquor Corp (YLC) listing, (though I know they carry a couple of white as well).

And if you’ve had its wine, you’ve most likely only tasted the fortified sweet wines, or one famous pink wine (perhaps in your youth), but not its terrific reds and refreshing whites.

OK, the reveal. I’m talking about Portuguese wines!

We have available to us in the Yukon a decent selection of the superb fortified Port wines named for their country of origin, and most of us know the name, if not the sweet and slightly fizzy Mateus wines that might have contributed to some early wine experiences of those of us of a certain age.

But if you haven’t tried any of the three red Portuguese wines that are offered at the YLC, you’ve missed a good bet.

All three are priced at under $20 a bottle, with two of the three at under $14.00. I was reminded of them again at the 20th Annual Rotary Club Wine and Fine Food Festival, where I came across a fair selection of Portuguese reds, as well as a very tasty sparkling Champagne–style wine to taste.

Being on my current money diet, I picked up a bottle of 2008 Vista Tinta Roriz ($13.10) to bring to a friend’s dinner this past weekend.

This wine comes from central Portugal, and is a blend of two varieties of Portuguese grapes, 85 per cent Tinta Roriz, and 15 per cent barrel-aged Touriga Nacional.

Tinta Roriz is a classic European grape that was first brought to Portugal and Spain more than 2,400 years ago. You may be familiar with its more familiar Spanish name, Tempranillo.

Touriga Nacional is a variety of red wine grape, traditionally used as one of the most important grapes to make Port from. More recently, Portuguese wine makers have begun to use it for red wines as well.

This grape, considered by many to be Portugal’s finest, is small in size, and therefore has a high skin-to-fruit ratio, which makes it high in tannins, resulting in a wine with lots of structure, backbone, and a fair amount of “mouth pucker” in the reds.

In the 2008 Vista Tinta Roriz, these grapes combine to make a very drinkable fruity but dry red, with a soft enough flavour to satisfy someone who might like, for example, a Beaujolais or a Pinot Noir, and yet enough tannins to stand up to and work well with roast or grilled meats.

We had it with very tasty spinach and cheese crepes, but I want to break it out the next time I have roast lamb!

So the next time you’re walking past the Spanish section in the YLC, take a minute to search out the several Portuguese wines on offer, and consider giving this, or either of the other Portuguese reds a try. I am pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.


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