Exclusive offer: 4/29/2022 – Portugal

Beginning this week, we are publishing the entirety of the Friday Exclusive Offers here on the website, and after the offer is closed, we will leave the text and photos up so you can easily search and reference them when you’re ready to pop the bottles. (We’ll be building an “Exclusive Offers Search Engine” in the near future so you can go back into the archives with ease.)

This offer is only available from Friday, April 29th at 3:00 pm to Sunday, May 1st at 3:00 pm. If the offer is still on, you’ll see the order form at the bottom of this page. That form is sent to Solo Vino Wine Shop in St. Paul, MN for final fulfillment (shipping is available).

Do you have friends that would be interested in this? Forward this page to them and tell them to sign up for our newsletter!

** This offer is closed. Thank you for your interest. **

A bit of background on this week’s selections

There are two factors at work here.

First, I’m recovering from Covid so my sense of smell and taste is whacked out. Therefore, I need to fall back on reliable wines that I know well, which every single wine listed below is (including the old Vintage Port, which I’ve had six times in my life).

Second, Portugal is the most dynamic and interesting country around for top-grade BANG FOR THE BUCK wines. In this era of inflation and supply-chain issues, we’re watching regions like Burgundy go up over 25% in price year to year. Even regions like the Southern Rhône bring a bit of sticker shock (it’s not uncommon to find $100+ bottles of Chateauneuf-du-Pape nowadays). So in terms of bang for the buck, Portugal is the top of the list.

One of the best things Portugal has going for it is the abundance of indigenous grape varieties. For decades, from the 70s to the 2000s, many parts of Europe were pulling up their native grapes to try to ride the wave of demand for ever more Chardonnay and Cabernet. Lucky for us, Portugal was simply too poor to do that, for replanting and relearning how to make wine with different grape varieties is an expensive proposition.

What you have here – a Portuguese stock up opportunity

Here is a wide variety of wines, prices, and styles, with the idea that you use this offer to stock up the wine cellar with wines that over-perform at all levels. From cheap and cheerful (and the best Vinho Verde on the market today), to an incredibly rare Vintage Port that we found four bottles of in a local warehouse, and a bunch of fun stuff in-between. Enjoy!

1970 Warre’s Vintage Port

We’ll start with one of the rarest wines around. These bottles were shipped last year to the local wholesaler directly from the winery and have been stored perfectly in their climate-controlled warehouse ever since. The provenance is perfect – they have only moved once in their entire life – as opposed to shipping to a retailer where they have been standing up in the light for over a year. Each bottle comes with a BEAUTIFUL wood case. If you buy one of these, be sure to research how to best open and serve the bottle (or just shoot me an email). A great Vintage Port such as this is a treasure, and with every cork that gets pulled it becomes rarer and rarer. This particular one I’ve had six times (it’s a birth year wine for me) and I can attest to the incredible quality, detail, purity, and power that it possesses. Only 4 bottles are available.

2014 Quinta do Noval Late Bottled Vintage Port

Late Bottled Vintage is the biggest bang-for-the-buck Port category, and prices have been creeping up in the last few years. This is a rare chance at an LBV with a bit of bottle age on it as well, and it’s a beauty. Quinta do Noval is best known for their rare and expensive “Nacional” Vintage Port, but they hit it out of the park with their 2014 LBV. 60 bottles available, price increase with the next vintage.

Three distinctive Portuguese reds to stock the wine shelf

All of these wines over-deliver, but in different ways.

FITA and FITAPRETA are from winemaker’s António Maçanita’s estate winery in the Alentejo, which is a region that is hot, dry, and best known for the cork oak trees that produce a majority of the world’s bottle stoppers. What sets these wines apart are old vines, hand harvesting (only in the cool of night), and gravity-fed winemaking throughout the process. The result is two wines with more lift and verve than most reds of this region, and these are two of my FAVORITES for burgers or steaks off the grill during the summer months.

Unfortunately, they suffer a bit in sales due to the confusing nature of the names, and very few retailers will carry both and put them side-by-side. But it’s perfect for one of our offers, where I can explain the difference.

FITA is 50% Aragonez (Tempranillo), 30% Touriga Nacional, and 20% Alicante Bouchet (which is a teinturier, meaning it carries pigment throughout the pulp of the grape, making for dark and full-bodied wines). 15 cases available. More info.

FITAPRETA is 40% Aragonez, 30% Alicante Bouchet, and 30% Trincadeira. It’s fuller-bodied, deeper, more complex, and more age-worthy than its little brother. A bottle of each side-by-side is a fascinating experiment. 24 bottles available. More info.

The QUINTA de S. FRANCISCO is from Óbidos, which is a small wine region just outside of Lisbon where the influence of the ocean coast is evident in the wines (a moderating effect from the ocean tampers a bit of the acid, making for a juicy and gulpable style of wine). Again, this is a supremely good wine to have around for pop-on-a-whim occasions. The grapes are Castelão, Aragonez, and Touriga Nacional. Aromas of wild strawberry, underbrush, raspberry, and clove. Medium-bodied. 36 bottles available.

Two distinctive Portuguese whites to stock the wine shelf

The ESCADES da BEIRA ENCRUZADO is one of my current favorites. My first Encruzado, in 2016 on a trip to Portugal and in this region of Dão, was a life-shaping moment. How did I not know about this amazing grape? If you’re looking for something that falls right in between a great Chardonnay, a fantastic Sauvignon Blanc, and the best Pinot Gris you can imagine, you have Encruzado. Tons of apple and peach aromas (but not going full-out tropical ala Viognier), along with a fine bead of acidity framed by medium to fullish body. This is a winner through and through. 60 bottles available.

Lastly, we have a rare chance at a bit more of the XISTO ILIMITADO BRANCO by Luis Seabra, who we interviewed on a live webinar this past winter. This wine has been called out by the New York Times as one of the most exciting white wines of the Douro Valley, and for a good reason. The quality and detail are extraordinary. The wine is made from 50% Rabigato, 20% Codega, 15% Gouveio (Godello), 10% Viosinho. Jon Bonné said of this wine, “it has the lemon-mineral punch of great Burgundy, plus a ripe pear fruitiness, white poppy, and remarkable density. This is sleek, contemporary white winemaking of the highest order.” Only 750 cases were made. Only a small percentage of that came to America. Only a small pile of cases came to Minnesota. And now only 35 bottles are left.

Lastly, load up on the best Vinho Verdes on the market

There is nothing better than a great Vinho Verde. Truth be told, we don’t get the BEST ones here in America — they are stuck in Portugal and consumed there. In fact, the best of the best Vinho Verdes are actually age-worthy wines that best resemble Premier Cru White Burgundy. Seriously. I’ve had 15-year-old Vinho Verdes that were a dead ringers for single-site Puligny-Montrachet. I kid you not.

Anyway, back to these wines. They are from my favorite Vinho Verde producer that you can find here in the Twin Cities, Quinta do Raza / Dom Diogo. The Raza line is the ‘basic’ wine, and the Dom Diogos are the single variety expressions. All of them overdeliver in a huge way.

The RAZA VINHO VERDE is best described as a margarita in a glass. It’s packed with fresh lime zest aromas, bright happy fruit, and it’s impossible to not smile while chugging this. It’s my go-to stock up Vinho Verde for the summertime. At the moment, 10 cases are available but more will be arriving in the coming months. If you don’t buy it now, you can buy it later.

The DOM DIOGO AZAL and DOM DIOGO ARINTO represent something super cool are rare: single variety Vinho Verdes. There is a range of grape varieties grown in this region, and usually, the wineries (which are mostly all co-ops) blend them all together. What you can experience here are the pure expressions of two of the best grapes.

AZAL is more green apple and ripe citrus-leaning in style. Perfect for grilled seafood of any sort, or chicken kababs while watching the kids play in the backyard. More info.

ARINTO is a bit more round and citrus-meets-stone fruit in style. It has a bit more weight on the palate, and roundness in the finish (though it’s not lacking in acidity by any stretch of the imagination). More info.

There are 60 bottles of Azal and 30 bottles of Arinto available.

BUYING ADVICE

Outside of the Port wines, this is a “stock up for the summer” offer with a huge variety of wines made by passionate and honest winemakers, featuring interesting indigenous grapes of Portugal. The Raza is a slam-dunk glupable summer sipper to fill the garage fridge with. The two single variety Vinho Verdes are more complex and deep in style though the price doesn’t reflect that reality (they should be more expensive). The Encruzado and the Douro white are two of the best whites from Europe at this moment, in my opinion. The reds are all no-brainers … if you need red wines of dynamic quality to pop for any occasion in the next few months, and who doesn’t, these are it. What I love the most about the reds are that I can have wine-knowledgeable neighbors over for a glass and they don’t know these wines at all. Far more fun than popping yet another “oh I’ve had that before” California wine.

And regarding the Ports: the LBV is an incredible wine that will give you wonderful satisfaction anytime in the next two or three years. And the 1970 is, well, a little piece of treasure that is not for everybody but it’s definitely for somebody. Maybe you, or for a gift.

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