Portugal has long been known for its high quality fortified wines – namely Port and Madeira – and, more recently has developed a reputation for its cheap and cheerful Vinho Verde. But, this wine-producing country is stepping up its game, with a renewed focus on quality. In fact, Portugal now has an expanded repertoire of quality wines, which offer diverse styles at excellent values for today’s consumer.
One example of such a change is taking place at Vista de Régua, located in the Douro Valley. The company has owned its vineyards dating as far back as 1685, initially selling its grapes to Port producers. However, in 1996, the Nunes de Matos family decided to shift their focus after 300 years and began making their own wine, in addition to managing their vines. Today, Vista de Régua produces four red wines.
The maps for the Porto and Douro wine regions are identical, since the land long-used for the production of grapes for Port is now simultaneously being used in the production of grapes for still wines. Similarly, the varieties that feature prominently in Port – Tourgia Nacional, Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca – are the same being used for these non-fortified reds. These lower octane wines got their start in the 1990s and, with the passage of time and implementation of new technology, have become well respected and well regarded in their own right.
And, Vista de Régua is no exception, earning praise both at home and abroad (their wines have been selected among Portugal’s Top 30 for three years in a row and have received high scores from Tasting Panel and Wine Enthusiast magazines). The wines range in suggested retail pricing from $12.99 for the unoaked, entry level wine and topping out at $32.00 for the flagship, old vines blend.Offering up great value, these wines are excellent for everyday drinking and pair well with food.
Vinho da Familia Red 2013, Douro, Portugal, SRP: $12.99
A blend of Touriga Nacional (50%), Tinta Roriz (20%), Tinta Barroca (20%) and Touriga Franca (10%), this wine is very fruit forward, with plums, blackberries, dried fruit and a touch of spice and earthiness.
Caráter Red 2013, Douro, Portugal, SRP: $16.99
This blend of Touriga Nacional (30%), Tinta Roriz (25%), Touriga Franca (25%) and Tinta Barroca (10%) is produced from vines with an average age of 30 years. Well balanced with spice, pepper and red berry fruit, the full-bodied palate is dense and concentrated with ripe tannins, licorice, blackberry and a hint of minerality.
Reserva Red 2010, Douro, Portugal, SRP: $22.99
Bringing together Touriga Nacional (40%), Touriga Franca (30%), Tinta Roriz (25%) and Tinta Barroca (5%), this wine is aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. It has an elegance and delicacy with fine-grained tannins and notes of earth, spice and vanilla, comingled with red and black fruit.
Vinhas Velhas Red 2009, Douro, Portugal, SRP: $32.00
Produced from 100% Vinhas Velhas (which translates as “Old Vines”), the wine is an unspecified blend of Tinta Amarela, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca, Tinta Carvalha and Sousão. It is aged “sur lies” in oak barrels for 14 months. Rich and concentrated ripe red and black fruit, this wine offers up firm tannins and bright acidity on the palate, culminating in long length.