Por­tu­gal’s na­tive reds, best at £8-£25

As the qual­ity rev­o­lu­tion gath­ers pace, Por­tuguese wine­mak­ers are pro­duc­ing a var­ied range of reds from indige­nous va­ri­eties, with top ex­am­ples high­light­ing a re­vival of lighter styles. Sarah Ahmed re­ports

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In­tro­duced by Sarah Ahmed, our ex­pert panel picks 38 great-value wines made from Por­tu­gal’s indige­nous grapes

How Thrilling To see the Are­nae Ramisco 2007 from Adega Re­gional de Co­lares top this two-day tast­ing of 137 UK-im­ported Por­tuguese reds in such an im­por­tant price bracket. This near-ex­tinct, un­grafted grape (Ramisco) from a near-ex­tinct re­gion (Co­lares, by the At­lantic coast to the west of lisbon) showed ter­rific va­ri­etal and re­gional au­then­tic­ity and com­plex­ity, win­ning a score of 95 points.

To­gether with the sim­i­larly rare Vul­cânico Red 2015 from the Azores wine Co ( joint sec­ond on 93), Filipa Pato’s Post-Quercus Baga 2015 (am­phora-fer­mented and aged) from Bair­rada (90) and Aphros’ Vin­hão 2015 from Vinho Verde (89), it ad­di­tion­ally re­flects an ex­cit­ing re­vival of lighter, fra­grant, nu­anced reds from coastal re­gions.

Con­sis­tently pro­duc­ing fuller-bod­ied, sat­is­fy­ing reds, where ju­di­cious oak adds spice and pol­ished tan­nins, the Douro and Alen­tejo have been at the van­guard of Por­tu­gal’s qual­ity wine rev­o­lu­tion. They eas­ily fielded the most en­tries; a third from each (17 from the Douro, 11 from Alen­tejo) dom­i­nated the top 38. with more time for tan­nins to in­te­grate, some Douro wines (espe­cially from 2013) might war­rant higher scores. Top wines did not for­sake fresh­ness. in Alen­tejo, Ali­cante Bouschet and Trin­cadeira brought savoury com­plex­ity to tem­per fruit ex­pres­sion. Re­turn­ing to the less ex­trac­tive theme, we had a high score from an un­oaked, am­phora-fer­mented/aged red from Her­dade São Miguel (who, strik­ingly, pro­duced four of Alen­tejo’s five top reds).

Scoring it 95 points, two tasters sighed over the Barolo­like savoury com­plex­ity and struc­ture of Va­dio’s Baga 2013 (£11.50), re­in­forc­ing the fact that this Bair­rada grape can be a great buy. Neigh­bour­ing Dão, an­other classic re­gion, dis­ap­pointed. only three of 20 en­tries demon­strated the el­e­gance and struc­ture we ex­pected to find. As for those re­gions that have tra­di­tion­ally fo­cused on bulk and val­uedriven wines, they were ef­fort­lessly out­classed. No wines from Tejo, lis­boa or Penín­sula de Setúbal made the cut.

with its di­verse ter­roir, huge va­ri­etal range, tra­di­tion of blend­ing and the odd, es­o­teric sin­gle va­ri­etal (Ramisco, Baga), Por­tu­gal is never bor­ing. Qual­ity, how­ever, can be in­con­sis­tent, so it pays to do your home­work on pro­duc­ers and vin­tages. Douro and Alen­tejo look like safe bets but, as Co­lares, Azores and other re­gions demon­strate, do not be afraid to ven­ture fur­ther afield. Por­tu­gal is dust­ing down its vi­nous gems to great ef­fect.

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