It's been almost a year now since my last visit to Portugal, but my happy memories of all the outstanding wine, delicious food and friendly people I met in this amiable country remain vivid.
My biggest disappointment, nearly 11 months after that early December trip, is that it's still hard to find many of the delicious dry table wines of Portugal on this side of the Atlantic.
In the hope of building a little excitement about Portugal and all its wines, we've decided to highlight these wines as the monthly tasting features in both our online forums for November.
In our non-commercial WineLovers Discussion Group (WLDG), the monthly Wine Focus will zero in on Port. You're encouraged to try and talk about any style of Port, from the basic non-vintage Ruby Port to wood-aged Tawnies and Colheitas and, if you like, the top-tier Vintage Port. Naturally your questions about Port and related topics are welcome. In our WineLovers Community on the Netscape/CompuServe service, the November Wine of the Month feature will take in all of Portugal's wines, with special attention to dry table wines from all parts of the country.
To set the stage, today's wine tasting features a classy Portuguese white, "Auratus" from Quinta do Feital. Designated "Vinho Regional" ("Regional wine," the approximate equivalent of a French Vin de Pays, this is a wine from Minho ("Meen-yo") in Portugal's far north. A blend of Alvarinho (the Spanish Albarino) and Trajadura (the traditional grape of Vinho Verde), it's distinct from Vinho Verde in style, medium-bodied with a textured, almost plush mouthfeel that belies its relatively modest 12 percent alcohol.
The Wine of the Month section of the Netscape/CompuServe WineLovers Community is here:
To view my reports from Portugal last December, visit my Portugal Wine Diary 2005,
For today and tomorrow only, The California Wine Club is offering special savings on five fantastic wines! To order from this Frightfully Good offer, please visit
Half, full and mixed cases okay. Sale ends Oct. 31, 2006.
While you are stocking up for the holidays why not place your holiday gift orders now? The California Wine Club makes a fun and unique gift for nearly everyone on your gift list! Each month includes two bottles of award-winning wine hand-selected by club owners, Bruce and Pam Boring plus their beautiful magazine, Uncorked. Just $32.95 per month plus shipping.
Every wine is guaranteed and there is never any bulk, closeout or private label wine. Visit www.cawineclub.com to order and receive no billing and no shipping until December.
Quinta do Feital 2005 "Auratus" Alvarinho-Trajadura Vinho Regional Minho ($14)
Watery pale, but it shows glints of gold in the glass. Peach and mango aromas, pleasant but not overbearing. Medium-bodied, textured; mouth-filling fruit creates a first impression of sweetness, but it finishes dry and tart. Good aperitif and food wine, light and balanced at a claimed 12% alcohol. U.S. importer: Vieux Vins Inc., Vineburg, Calif. (Oct. 27, 2006)
FOOD MATCH: Its rather full body and texture helped it stand up nicely to an at-home replication of a Tuscan seafood dish I enjoyed recently in Siena, roast monkfish wrapped in pancetta with sage.
VALUE: An impressive wine that fully justifies its price point in the middle teens.
WHEN TO DRINK: Although there's a lot more substance here than you'll find in light Vinho Verde, the grape (and the synthetic cork) suggest that it's better for drinking up than cellaring.
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Seeking your opinion: Would you like a wine club featuring my top review selections?
One of the most difficult things about writing about wine for a wide audience is that wines aren't distributed equally, and all too often I get frustrated E-mail notes from folks who really want to try a wine I liked but can't find it.
Now my longtime friends and associates at The California Wine Club have come up with a creative way to make it easy for you to have my top wine recommendations delivered right to your house, and I'd like very much to hear your comments, thoughts and opinions.
The idea is as simple as it is innovative: On a regular basis - perhaps monthly, bimonthly or quarterly, depending on demand - the club's Bruce and Pam Boring would work with me to choose selected hard-to-find wines that I really enjoyed. They would make these wines available to "Garr Series" club members as they do with members of the regular California Wine Club and its Signature Series, Connoisseurs' Series and International Selections.
These selections will usually be selected from a slightly higher-cost "special occasion" range, where quality-price ratio becomes increasingly important. I anticipate that a typical two-wine selection will run $50 to $75 including all shipping and costs; this is the range in which value becomes important and good advice essential.
We'd like to make a decision about launching this club before the holidays, but I need your advice, so I hope as many of you as possible will answer the following questions. Responding requires no commitment on your part, although I'll assume that your response implies consent for me - and California Wine Club - to write you back with specific, responsive comments, not "spam."
You can simply hit REPLY and type your answers right on this page (you can delete the rest of the Wine Advisor, or not, as you wish) and send it back to me.
This week on WineLoversPage.com
Some highlights of recent articles on WineLoversPage.com that I hope you'll enjoy:
Hot topics in our WineLovers Discussion Groups
Poll: I'd like to learn more about the wines of ...
The Valpolicellas of Veneto
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns, when due to my travels in Italy, our only publication day was Monday:
Hiding in plain sight (Oct. 27, 2006)
Back in the U.S.A. (Oct. 25, 2006)
Inside wine judging (Oct. 23, 2006)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Tuscan treats (Oct. 26, 2006)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Monday, Oct. 30, 2006