Supergrapes vs. Evil Greegeo

by Matt Walls
Whenever I hear about a new graphic novel based around wine like The Drops of God or The Initiates, I get excited. They tend to be fairly grown-up affairs, but...
93

20 Year Old Tawny Port, Douro Valley

( £33 down to £24.75, 20%, Marks & Spencer )

Made for M&S by Taylor’s brilliant winemaker, David Guimaraens, this is the kind of Tawny Port that makes grown men (and women) cry. It’s a very fine fortified, with a delicious balance between nutty, figgy fruit, added spirit and mature, barrel-aged rancio notes. Very sweet and very long on the palate, it would make a perfect Christmas treat. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-25Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Portugal, Fortified, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional

What it takes to make great wine

by Tim Atkin
What does it take to make a great wine? An amazing vineyard is the most obvious answer, preferably but not necessarily planted with old vines. You can’t put lipstick on...
88

2011 Tanners Douro Red, Douro Valley

( £7.95, 13%, Tanners )

Produced for Tanners by the impressive winemaking duo of João Portugal Ramos and José-Maria Soares Franco (who used to make Portugal’s most famous red, Barca Velha) this is an impressively well balanced Douro red at an attractive price, with subtle, spicy oak, good minerality and acidity and tarry, brambly fruit. Half bottles at £4.45. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-16Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Portugal, Red, Bonarda, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional
87

2012 The Society's Vinho Verde, Minho

( £5.95, 11.5%, The Wine Society )

Summer may be over (at least in northern Europe), but this is still a delicously refreshing, low-alcohol Portuguese white that’s just the thing for sunny afternoons. It’s commendably cheap, too. Tangy, spritzy and zingy, it’s floral and dry with palate-tickling acidity and a citrus fruit bite. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Portugal, White, Albariño, Loureiro
89

2011 João Portugal Ramos F'Oz, Alentejo

( £9.99, 14%, Waitrose )

The Alentejo is becoming more and more impressive with each vintage as a source of southern Portugal’s best red wines. This great value, under-a-tenner blend of Aragonez (aka Tempranillo), Trincadeira and Castelão is a case in point. It’s aromatic and refreshing, with no sign of sun-baked, raisiny flavours, fine tannins, notes of chocolate, black cherry and plum and a firm, but well balanced finish. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-17Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Portugal, Red, Castelão, Tempranillo, Trincadeira
89

2011 Taste the Difference Douro, Douro Valley

( £8.49 down to £6.36, 14.5%, Sainsbury's )

Taming the heat of the Douro Valley is the key to making balanced red table wines (as opposed to more fiery, fortified Ports) and Manuel Lobo of Quinta do Crasto has done that with consummate skill here. The wine is rich and flavoursome, all right, with notes of violet, blackberry and spice, supple tannins and youthful vigour, but it has good acidity and freshness, too. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-17Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Portugal, Red, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional
88

2012 Quinta de Azevedo, Vinho Verde

( £5.99, 11%, Majestic )

If summer ever arrives in the UK – come to think of it, spring would be welcome, too – this is a wine that I’d be happy to have in my fridge or ice bucket. Crisp and aromaitic, with notes of fresh limes and lemon peel, showing a touch of spritz and tastebud-tingling acidity. Tangy and light, it’s the sort of wine I could drink all afternoon. Portugal at its value for money best. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Portugal, White, Albariño
90

2011 Tercius Alvarinho, Vinho Verde

( £9.99, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Alvarinho is exactly the same grape as Albariño – it’s just grown on the other side of the Minho River in Portugal, as opposed to Spain. In fact, it’s one of the key grapes in Vinho Verde, althoiugh it’s often blended with other grapes. This is typically floral and fresh, but with more weight than many Vinhos Verdes, with notes of lime and pear and a chalky, palate-cleansing minerality. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Portugal, White, Albariño
89

2011 Herdade do Esporão, Verdelho, Vinho Regional Alentejano

( £8.95, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

White wines from the baking plains of southern Portugal are often rather flabby and dull, but this perky number from one of the region’s best producers is anything but, showing tangy acidity, bright, citrus peel flavours and a minerality that wouldn’t look out of place in Chablis. Bring on the seafood. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Portugal, White, Verdejo

Everyday value?

by Matt Walls
Lined up against the wall in my hallway, they stood quietly like forlorn commuters queuing for a bus. These were not bottles to make a taster salivate. Why didn’t I...