A couple of contrasting Portuguese reds: Alvaro Castro Dao 2009 and Nieport Il Vertente Douro 2013

Portugal is among several regions that I taste from sparsely.  This is mostly a function of geography and access, rather than intent: Portugal is not a weekend trip from Australia.  These two wines illustrate the diversity on offer.  The first is from Dao which is inland, and south of the Douro.  Alvara Castro is reputed as a leading producer in the region.  It has an elegance that called to mind Burgundy.  This is either a very pleasing development because Dao wines are substantially cheaper than Burgundy, or a very negative one, were it to be the case that I had tasted Burgundies that were in fact from Dao.  The second wine is a dry table wine from Port house, Niepoort from the Douro.

Alvara Castro Dao 2009
A blend of alfrocheiro, touriga nacional and tinta roriz.  Alfrocheiro?  It’s a red grape variety that produces deeply coloured, balanced wines and has its home in the Dao.  I have not seen it planted in Australia, although if you have, please chime in.  Tinta roriz is the name for tempranillo in northern Portugal.  And touriga nacional is the Port grape variety.  Well, technically one of many, but a critical one.  I imagine the typical Australian wine consumer (cf. wine nerd) searching for a nice red has long since tuned out due to an absence of any recognisable names.  The 2009 vintage of Alvara Castro’s Dao is in fact very good.  As mentioned, it has Burgundian pinot noir like aromas of cherry and rosemary.  The palate has a nice balance of acid and length and powdery tannins.  I’d buy this again.
(Alc: 13%, Region: Dao, Portugal, Rating: Good to Very Good, Would I buy it based on this tasting? Yes, Drink: now, Tasted: July, 2017) 

Niepoort Il Vertente Douro 2013
This is a very different style of wine to Alvara Castro’s Dao.  It’s big.  A deep saturated purple colour in the glass, it has aromas of vanilla, butter, baking spices, plums and jam.  The palate is full bodied, with long length and an impression of woodiness.  I would give this some time in the cellar, and a long decant for the wine to show its best.  (Region: Douro, Portugal, Rating: Good, Would I buy it based on this tasting? I’d drink it, Drink: now, Tasted: July, 2017) 

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