Portuguese Wine is some of the best and most memorable wine I’ve ever tasted. One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had was perhaps at a Michelin Star restaurant, at The Yeatman, in Porto. Every course was served with a Portuguese wine to match. And every wine was just as spectacular as the food.
It was during this dinner that I fell in love with Portuguese wine. I already liked it quite a bit, and the Douro is one of my favorite places in the world. But seeing how food-friendly all the different types of wines are, created a newfound appreciation and respect.
Ian, my husband, and I had quite the trip while in Portugal. We started in Lisbon, where we ran into some car trouble and met a man who introduced us to the most delicious pastries. Then we went to the Douro, where we stayed at the most beautiful BnB on a mountainside I’ve ever seen in my life. The food, the views, and the wine were incredible. And that’s where Ian proposed. Aside from exploring the Douro, we took small day-trips to the Minho region, Villa Real, and Lemego. Lemego has one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen, it goes by “The Stairway of Lemego” – look it up! And at the bottom there’s a wonderful patisserie, definitely get their special pastries!
My favorite wineries that we visited are Quinta do Vallado and Quinta de la Rosa. Both have fabulous views, tours, and wines!
Porto, Coimbra, & Obidos
After that, we spent a night in Porto to eat at the Yeatman, and to explore the library that the Harry Potter library is based on (so cool!). The next morning, we traveled down to Coimbra, the university town. Well – in between those two stops, we actually were supposed to stay in an Air BnB but the town looked like something out of The Crazies and every house was boarded up like it was 1942 Europe. Every room but our own was locked. There were also cameras everywhere in the house and bulletproof shields over all windows and doors…. something was just not right. So we fled very soon after sunset and stayed in the city of Coimbra instead.
Coimbra was wonderful – vibrant, full of life and tons of museums, libraries, and lovely rooftop cafés. There are also some of the largest Roman ruins in Europe just outside the city. Actually, there is evidence of three different civilizations layered on top of each other there.
We also spent the day in Obidos (pronounced like Oh-bee-doshe), a medieval city surrounded by a brick wall.
Sintra & The Castle of the Moores
We finished the trip in Sintra, also known as the Versailles of Portugal because there are so many different palaces so close together. It’s a beautiful place – albeit the most touristy of them all. It’s definitely worth going through. The Moorish castle is the best – you can walk along the outer wall of the castle for about 2 miles all the way to the top of the highest turret. It’s like a real-live battle playground!
Back to Portuguese Wine
All that to say – we got to drink a lot of Portuguese wine while we were there. Going to the different areas, each restaurant had different “house wines” with the local style.
While we didn’t get to visit many wineries in the Alentejo or Bairrada region, we got to have a lot of their wines. You don’t realize how much of the country is dedicated to vineyards until you go there. It’s truly amazing.
Winemaking started there with the Romans. They figured out how to terrace the steep mountains throughout the country (the Douro in particular) and create level rows for vines to grow on. Everywhere you look in the Douro you see mountains beautifully carved out with vineyards. All bathed in sunlight, either direct or reflected from the river Douro.
Bairrada – The Region
Bairrada is where we are specifically looking today, however. See the map below – courtesy of Adega de Cantahede (the producer of today’s wine review).
You can see the area in red is the Bairrada region. It’s just south of Porto/Douro Valley, and between two rivers with the Atlantic Ocean on the western side. You can’t tell from this photo, but there are also two mountains on the eastern side of Bairrada, the Buçaco and Caramulo Mountains.
The mountains, rivers, and ocean are key influences for Bairrada. The Mountains keep cooling Atlantic breezes in the area, and good drainage for grapes. The soils are a blend of clay and limestone. Oddly enough, most grapes are grown on the flatlands, not the slopes of the mountains.
Bairrada is known for primarily two styles, although it can make all styles of wine. First and foremost, for long-lived vibrant red wines, and for traditional-method sparkling wines.
The cooler climate gives grapes that are lower in alcohol and high in acidity which is ideal for sparkling wine production – hence why this area is so well known for it. If you can find one here in the states, grab it!
The red wines will have a complex acidity with jammy fruits, as the grapes can have a longer hang-time on the vine, allowing them to develop more and more flavor.
2018 Villa Rosa Baga Reserva DOC Wine Review
Sight: This wine is medium ruby.
Nose: This wine has notes of ripe strawberries, jammy raspberries, and blackberries. There are also notes of cocoa, coffee, vanilla, and allspice. The wine has a medium intensity.
Palate: This wine is dry and has a medium-plus intensity, medium alcohol, medium-plus tannin, medium-plus acidity, a medium-plus finish, and a medium body. There are notes of ripe and baked raspberry, strawberry, cherry, blackberry and black plum. There are also notes of clove, cinnamon, vanilla, and cocoa powder.
Assessment: This is a good wine with good complexity, well-balanced alcohol, acidity, and tannin, with a good finish. Drink now, possibly capable of slight further aging (2 more years maximum).
Food Pairing: This wine would be excellent withapple and squash soup, but also with my easy baked barbeque ribs, or steak au poivre.
Final Thoughts: This was one of the wines I purchased from Martha Stewart Wine Co during a labor day sale for $9.99. It originally sells for $19.99. I think this is a great value wine and I will definitely be purchasing it again – it was a steal at $9.99, but I think compared to other wines out there, especially the few there are from Portugal, this wine is a great value. I’ll definitely be buying again – even if it’s the full price! Find it on Martha Stewart Wine Co here!
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