Portuguese Wines: Just Say Yes

It is August and time once again for one of my favorite monthly activites, Wine Pairing Weekend.  This month’s theme was selected by Christy Majors of Confessions of a Culinary Diva. She has chosen to highlight one of my favorite wine countries: Portugal! Portugal is quite diverse as a wine region. However, as a whole there are themes in Portuguese wines: 1) they are outstanding wines to pair with all varieties of cuisines; 2) they are an outstanding value, usually getting a high quality wine at a low price; 3) they are growing in popularity so they are becoming easier to find. I have written a few articles on Portuguese wines so if you would like to learn more about each region, food pairings, varietals, etc please see my articles “Wines of Portugal: Where Tradition Meets Modernity,” “Wines of Portugal: Where Tradition Meets Modernity, part 2,” “Enjoying Portuguese Wines with Esporão ,” and “Spanish and Portuguese Wines: A Spectacular Journey.”

Portugal Dao DAC winepw

The wine I selected for this month’s Portuguese Wine Pairing Weekend is a red blend from the Dao. Let me share a bit about the Dao wine region and some of the red wine blends from information I received at a Wines of Portugal Master Class earlier this year.

Wines of Portugal 13

Dão: main varieties: Encruzado, Bical, Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Tinta Roriz, and Jaen; wines: complex and delicate aromas & flavors, very elegant, moderately full-body with exceptional acidity and a great aging potential; potential for best wines of Portugal.

Wines of Portugal class 7

Here is the wine I chose:

Portugal Dao DAC winepw2Alvaro Castro 2012 D.A.C Dão “Quinta da Pellada” Red Blend: This wine was crafted of 30% Touriga Nacional, 20% Jaen, 30% Tinta Roriz, and 20% Alfrocheriero. It poured a soft violet into the glass and opened with aromas of red berries and fruit, soft spice, with floral and mineral notes. On the palate this wine was light-bodied and bright with flavors of cherries, raspberries and red plums, with cracked black pepper, spice and minerality. It was smooth with bright acidity and a short yet dry and pleasant finish. It was easy to drink and enjoy. 13% alcohol. Average SRP $14

93 pts Wine & Spirits: Dão was once famed for light-bodied, elegant reds like this, only this wine is fresher, brighter and more graceful on release than the old guard used to be. Its refinement starts in the scent of crushed herbs and cracked green peppercorns, tickling the tongue like a strawberry leaf, lasting on cool red fruit and all that peppery spice. It’s a blend of Touriga Nacional, Jaen, Roriz and Alfrocheiro, grown with care so it has the stamina to improve over the course of several days after the bottle is opened.

 Portugal winepw dinner2

Knowing that the wine was light in body with fruit, floral notes and minerality and that Portuguese wines pair well with a variety of cuisines, I chose a light and healthy summer meal to pair with it. The Mediterranean diet is all the rage right now and it is certainly a diet easy to embrace. Here the word “diet” refers to a healthy eating style rather than a weight loss plan; however, if you are used to getting  your meals out of paper sacks this eating style will lead to weight loss and if not it will certainly promote health and wellness. The recipe I used, “Maple and Mustard Seared Tuna Steaks, with warm potato and green bean salad” was originally published in the May edition of Cooking Light Magazine. Believe it or not I followed the recipe almost exactly with one substitution. I used fresh ahi tuna steaks instead of the more traditional tuna steaks. The recipe was light, healthy and full of delicious flavors. It was a wonderful pairing with the light Portuguese red blend. I think my favorite part was the tanginess of the Dijon mustard used in the tuna and the side blending so well with the acidity and round integrated tannins of the wine. It was a great beat the summer heat meal and further exemplifies the diversity of Portuguese wines.

Portugal winepw dinner

From Michael Skurnik Wines web site regarding Alvaro Castro:

Alvaro Castro, who is a civil engineer, inherited Quinta da Pellada, which dates back to the year 1570, in 1980. At the time, of his inheritance, he decided to make something out of the estate. He wanted to give it his full time and attention. Rapidly the enthusiasm for his wines made him decide to re-establish the old family tradition of wine making full time. This tradition also includes his daughter Maria Castro.

Quinta da Pellada via wineanorak.com
Quinta da Pellada via wineanorak.com

The vines are between 3 and 65 years old. They are located at an average altitude of 550 meters. The total area amounts to 60 hectares, which are planted in granite soils with rows of sand and clay. Varietals that are typical of the region and encompass over 30 different varieties include: Encruzado, Cercial, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Jaen and Alfrocheiro.

 Alvaro Castro is acknowledged as not only the leading producer of wine in Portugal’s Dao region but also considered by some to the be the best wine producer in Portugal.

Please visit my fellow #WinePW bloggers to see what they discovered exploring Portugal:

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is sharing “Vinho Verde Caldeirada with Pluot Port Granita”

Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva pairs “Poco Do Lobo Arinto with Seabass”

Constance from Vinhos do Alentego is featuring “Alentejano Black Pork with Clams

David from Cooking Chat shares “Grilled Pork with Portuguese Potatoes and Kale”

Jade of Tasting Pour is pairing “Vinho Verde with Caldeirada”

Jeff from food wine click shares “Perfect Pairing with Port”

Jennifer from Vino Travels  shares “Agro Batoreu Terre Silvestre Portugese Blend with Asian Pork”

Lori from Draceana Wines features “Portugal: Not Just For Port. Who Knew?”

Martin of Enofylz Wine Blog tempts us with “Taste of Portugal: Grilled Fish Setubal Style and 2008 Torre de Tavares Encruzado”

Nancy from Pull That Cork pairs “Amêijoas na Cataplana with Soalheiro Alvarinho”

Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere  pairs “Piri Piri Chicken with Verdelho”

Wendy creator of A Day in the Life on a Farm shares “A Tawny Port from Portugal served with Grilled Figs topped with Goat Cheese”

My Song Selection: This wine was light, fresh, fruity and very palate pleasing alone and with the meal. The song I have chosen to pair with  the Alvaro Castro 2012 D.A.C Dão “Quinta da Pellada” Red Blend is also very light, crisp and pleasing…to the ear: “Just Say Yes” by Snow Patrol.  So grab a bottle and say yes to wines of Portugal!

Get your own bottle of Alvaro Castro 2012 D.A.C Dão “Quinta da Pellada” Red Blend and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!

18 responses to “Portuguese Wines: Just Say Yes”

  1. Wow, what a great experience to attend the Wines of Portugal Master Class. I felt a smidge guilty after reading this post as I had a paper bag lunch one day this week. Need to embrace that Mediterranean lifestyle a little more.
    PS, love the song, never heard it before – where to find all these great selections?

    • Thank you Christy. Sorry I have been running all day and popping in as I am able. Nothing wrong with a paper bag lunch; sometimes nothing hits the spot like PB&J! Glad you like the song. Snow Patrol is a good band who produces many great songs. If you are a long time Grey’s Anatomy fan I promise you have heard some of their earlier songs before.

  2. We were surprised (pleasantly) by the price points of the wines. They do make it a great QPR, can’t really ask for more. I agree with the others, I know where to go for Portugal wine advice!

  3. Those Masters Classes are full of information. Must have been great on Portugal wines with them being all the rave right now on value. The maple mustard glaze on the tuna sounds great! Do you have a favorite portuguese grape/wine so far from everything you’ve tried?

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