IF you’re getting out and about to celebrate Halloween and Bonfire night an essential accessory will be a glass of warming spicy red or, perhaps even better, Port.
Perfect for the job would be wines from the Douro valley, such as those I investigated at a Hanging Ditch tasting last week from Quinta Do Portal.
Of course, for Port itself, it’s absolutely necessary to head to the Douro as all real Port is produced there.
Portal is a Port producer with vines around the Pinhão Valley but, like many other winemakers there, its table wines are becoming more prominent and successful.
There is an incentive for Port producers to make more table wines, given their popularity and the fact that due to regulations Port is more expensive to produce.
Pedro Branco, from the estate, led us through the table wines followed by a couple of fortified examples.
There were two delicious whites including a floral and aromatic Moscatel, known elsewhere as Muscat de Petit Grains.
All the reds use one of three grape varieties , Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca although Portal does produce a single
● Portal LBV Port 2011 varietal wine from the Roriz otherwise known as Tempranillo in Spain. Hanging Ditch has a few examples of older vintages of these wines that show some nice development in bottle.
● QUINTA DO PORTAL TINTO COLHEITA 2014 (£17.50)
Fresh and lively with bright supple fruit and floral notes on the nose. Elegant yet easydrinking.
● QUINTA DO PORTAL RESERVA 2014 (£25)
A seriously good red balancing the sensual spice and warmth of Douro red varieties with elegance and finesse.
● QUINTA DO PORTAL GRANDE RESERVA TINTO 2014 (£40)
A very polished, elegant wine with great depths of dark blackberry fruit.
The nose is herby with a hint of toasty vanilla. The tannins are very fine yet grippy enough for all kinds of roasted meats and warming casseroles. A serious dinner party wine.
● PORTAL LBV PORT 2011 (£26)
What better way to warm the cockles while watching the fireworks or shepherding the kids on Halloween than this?
Matured in large oak casks to develop the wine more quickly than vintage Port, Late Bottled Vintage is the bargain way to experience the Douro’s fortified delights.
This is one of the best I’ve tasted with plenty of rich fruit cosseted by notes of cocoa.
Slightly spicy in the mouth it finishes long and true.
A fabulous match for blue cheese or parkin.
If you can’t get over to Hanging Ditch Taylor’s LBV is well worth a shout at £14.99 at most major supermarkets.
The current 2013 version is excellent with intense blackcurrant fruit and a licorice kick.
“What better way to warm the cockles while watching the fireworks or shepherding the kids on Halloween”