Portugal’s growing conditions were just superb in 2011 creating a momentous year for vintage port. Simply put they are wonderful and belong in your cellar. The growing season was ideal and to quote Kim Marcus of the WineSpectator “Tasting these Vintage Ports is revelatory. Their intense fruitiness is seductive, and the alcohol added to fortify the wine makes them heady and expressive. Many are enticing to enjoy now for their youthful vibrancy and fruitiness, but they will offer more elegance, integration and refinement as they age. Like all of the highest quality Vintage Ports, these will require at least 15 to 20 years in the cellar for the alcohol and fruit flavors to mellow, beginning the long road to becoming fully mature Port. Some may drink well into the latter part of the century.”
Not everyone wishes to wait 15 – 20 years to drink a port. I agree especially for those from the baby boomer generation. That said, I will be adding a few bottles to my collection and may have a tasting in the near future to compare a young 2011 to a 1997 or older vintage in my cellar. That should make for an interesting evening.
As I was reading about the Ports my mind turned to other red wines produced in Portugal. We do not often think of Portuguese wines as we walk into the wine store. In this case you may wish to change your mind. You will find below a number of lovely red wines for a pittance from the 2011 vintage. A little looking might just make your day. Remember we are talking about the 2011 vintage.
All Port comes from the Douro River Valley, which is in north central Portugal. Look for red wines from the same region, but not a necessity.
First, let’s take a look at some outstanding Ports from 2011 and then you will find a list of outstanding values in red wines. The red wine ratings are not going to jump off the screen but the prices will warm your pockets with strong ratings in the high 80’s.
DOW Vintage Port 2011 Score: 99 Release Price: $82
Powerful, refined and luscious, with a surplus of dark plum, kirsch and cassis flavors that are unctuous and long. Shows plenty of grip, presenting a long, full finish, filled with Asian spice and raspberry tart accents. Rich and chocolaty. One for the ages. Best from 2030 through 2060. 5,000 cases made
Cockburn Vintage Port Score: 97 Release Price: $75
Amazingly fresh and juicy, with concentrated raspberry and dark cherry flavors that are well-sculpted and pure. Very minerally midpalate, this offers a fruity finish that features luscious chocolate notes. A sleek and vibrant style. Best from 2030 through 2060. 3,000 cases made
Sandeman Vintage Port Score: 97 Release Price: $80
Well-proportioned, showing fine balance and grip to the fresh boysenberry, red plum and wild cherry flavors. Intense black fig and dark chocolate notes appear on the firm, powerful finish. Best from 2040 through 2060. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 1,250 cases made
Niepoort Vintage Port Score: 95 Release Price: $95
This fruity style shows plenty of peppery notes, with bright cherry and fresh-crushed plum flavors that are crisp and lively. Finishes with a flurry of pomegranate and chocolate accents. Best from 2025 through 2050. 15,000 cases made
Graham Vintage Port Score: 96 Release Price: $98
This offers a decadently fruity aroma, with peppery accents to the cherry, raspberry and dark currant flavors that are lithe and juicy. Grippy tannins grace the mocha- and chocolate-infused finish. Best from 2025 through 2055. 7,000 cases made
And if your budget can’t stand Vintage Port buy a bottle of:
Fonseca late bottled Port Unfiltered 2008 Score: 93 @ $24
Focused and pure-tasting, with concentrated flavors of red plum, crushed raspberry and violet that are broad, rich and plush. Well-sculpted, offering a finish that bursts with dark chocolate and spice notes. Drink now through 2030
Red Wine From Portugal:
Casa Agrícola Alexandre Relvas Alentejo Alentejo Ciconia Reserva 2011 RATED 89 $14
Offers a tight beam of well-cut dark currant and red plum flavors, with a snap of blood orange and a finish of ginger and allspice notes. Drink now through 2016. 10,500 cases made. –KM Country:
Quinta do Crasto Douro 2011 RATED 89 $19
Offers an effusive aroma of red fruits, with intense, lively flavors to match, including boysenberry, blueberry and blackberry flanked up by expressive notes of underbrush and spice. The finish shows notes of spice and crushed stone. Drink now through 2017. 20,000 cases made. –KM Country:
Quinta do Vallado Douro 2011 RATED 89 $23
A firm, fresh and balanced red, with muscular red plum, berry and currant flavors, supported by a sturdy structure. The minerally finish reveals hints of flint. Drink now through 2016. 17,500 cases made. –KM Country:
Caves Aliança Douro Foral 2011 RATED 88 $9
The vibrant flavors of boysenberry, blackberry and plum pudding are lush and flanked by notes of vanilla and cinnamon. Dark chocolate and pepper accents enliven the finish. Drink now. 15,000 cases made
Casa Santos Lima Lisboa Lab Red 2011 RATED 88 $9
Firmly structured, with a brooding intensity to the mocha, dark cherry and dried blackberry flavors, showing a touch of licorice snap. Spice, dried ginger and chocolate notes mark the finish. Castelão, Tinta Roriz, Syrah and Touriga Nacional. Drink now through 2016. 58,000 cases made. –KM Country:
Casa Santos Lima Tinta Roriz-Castelão Lisboa Quinta do Espírito Santo 2011 RATED 88 $11
A supple, lively red, with minerally overtones to blueberry compote, black cherry and mocha flavors. Shows ginger and spice on the finish, with milk chocolate notes. Drink now through 2016. 30,000 cases made
Casa Santos Lima Lisboa Quinta de Bons-Ventos 2011 RATED 87 $9
A juicy red, delivering vibrant and concentrated flavors of red raspberry, kirsch and dark plum, showing some peppery notes. Paprika accents appear on the finish. Castelão, Camarate, Tinta Miúda and Touriga Nacional. Drink now. 52,000 cases made. –KM Country:
Casal Branco Castelão-Trincadeira-Cabernet Sauvignon Tejo Terra de Lobos 2011 RATED 87 $9
A juicy and lively red, with berry and wild plum flavors that show accents of hot stone and mocha. A hint of licorice appears on the finish. Drink now. 35,000 cases made. –KM Country:
Cortes de Címa Alentejo Chaminé Red 2011 RATED 87 $12
Sweet cherry and wild plum flavors feature some interesting graphite edges. Smoke tinges mark the crisp finish. Tempranillo, Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Alicante, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2016. 15,500 cases imported.