Relaxed dinner by the Tagus at Atira-te ao Rio
Portugal remains a treasure trove for good value wines in all three colours many from their storehouse of native grape varieties. It is also possible, for those prepared to take a punt, a place to find some remarkable old wines at bargain prices.
How long this will last is perhaps now a question worth asking for in 14 years of coming to Lisbon during July I can never remember a year when Lisbon has been so full of visitors. It seems that many have now discovered the attractions and value of Portugal’s capital. It is a hot destination and not just because it was 37˚C yesterday up from 36˚C on Sunday.
2015 Alvarinho, Vinho Verde, pingo doce own label 3.98€
Anselmo Mendes is a Vinho verde specialist making a whole range of wines from this northern Portuguese region including a very fine single vineyard Alvarinho that I cited last week. This own label from supermarket pingo doce is at the other end of the scale. It does, however, offered both plenty of flavour and just amazing value with this Alvarinho that has both texture and a clean refreshing acidity. Ideal as apéro or with some grilled prawns, for instance.
2009 Dona Berta Vinha Centenária, Reserva Branco
Dona Berta – a quite opulent, Douro white made from a range of grapes: Códega do Larinho, Rabigato, Viosinho, Gouveio and Malvasia Fina. We enjoyed this at at Pedro’s Garrafeira Alfaia in the Bairro Alto. There are no wine list, so either you tell Pedro what sort of wine you would like to drink or you choose it from the shelves.
2014 Arinto dos Açores sur lies, DO Pico, Açores, António Maçanita
Another of Pedro’s choices, this is a rare Arinto from the Azores. Only 1600 bottles are made of this precise, saline and mineral wine. It was a fine foil for the sea bass baked in salt that Pedro’s wife cooked for us – what a treat!
Sea bass cooked in salt
Some golden oldies
NV Terras Altas Dão, José Maria da Fonseca
In last Tuesday’s post I mentioned a couple of old wines that we had bought from the garrafeira nacional in the Mercado da Ribeira at Cais Sodre. We bought eight as these bins ends were offered at 5.95€ each – buy three to get the fourth for free. It was such a compelling offer that we bought eight on the basis that if a few were undrinkable, they would still have been good value.
To date we have drunk and enjoyed five of our eight bottles, so feel that we already had a bargain. Last Friday night we dispatched a further three. Firstly came the quite deeply golden NV Terras Altas Dão, José Maria da Fonseca. We have no definite information about this white wine. José Maria da Fonseca no longer make a white from the Dão. It is, however, thought it may well have come from the 1960s. Although it naturally had some oxidation, it was certainly still complex, clean and precise with some touches of dry honey.
A pair from the Ribatejo – Dom Hermano 1985 Reserva and 1980 Garrafeira
It was fascinating to taste this pair of Dom Hermano reds from the Casa Agricola Herd. de D. Luis de Margaride in Almeirim. Both were in good shape with 12.5% alc but the 1980 Garrafeira with a production of 50,000 bottles had considerably greater length and complexity than the 1985 Reserva. The 1980 Garrafeira was bottled in November 1984, while the 1985 Reserva bottling was in March 1987.