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 California Wine Club
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In This Issue
 Reports from Portugal Regular Wine Advisor publication resumes with a series of Portuguese wine-and-food reports.
 New wines from Port country The brash young "Douro boys" and some of their neighbors in Northern Portugal are shifting their sights from traditional sweet Port to world-class dry table wines.
 California Wine Club Overnight Air For the Cost of 3 Day Service!
 This week on One hundred new-release reviews by Dr. Bucko, and our WineLovers Community is ready to offer last-minute wine gift advice.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index The Wine Advisor archives.
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Reports from Portugal
Now that I'm back home from Portugal, we'll resume the Wine Advisor's regular publication schedule immediately. For your interest, I'm currently planning these trip-related reports in coming issues:
TODAY: New wines from Port country: Dry Douro reds
TUESDAY: Top Ports reviewed in our subscriber-only Wine Advisor Premium Edition
WEDNESDAY: Ruby, Tawny, LBV: Port on a budget
MONDAY, DEC. 26: Natural cork fights back: My report on extensive interviews with cork-industry leaders

Quinta do Crasto
Historic Quinta do Crasto, perched high on a Douro hill that was once a Roman military encampment, is now a center for innovative activity in great Portuguese dry red wines.

New wines from Port country

Yes, Portugal still produces some of the world's greatest dessert wines in the form of warming, fortified Port, and we'll get to that later this week.

But as I reported in last Monday's edition, shortly after my arrival in this sunny, welcoming land on the far western edge of Europe, the real wine news here isn't about old, historic Port but the exciting new wine developments taking place in Port's traditional home in the Douro River Valley and beyond.

The "ferment" going on in Portugal, if you'll pardon the expression, reminds me of nothing I've seen in the world of wine since the early 1980s, when in parallel fashion, a growing group of young wine makers challenged the Chianti tradition with creative new wine-making efforts that would yield the wines that came to be known as "Super Tuscans."

Super Tuscans, though, didn't so much abandon the Chianti tradition as modernize it, creating similar but more modern wines by adding French wine-grape varieties, tweaking vinification, and replacing old barrels with fancy French-oak barriques.

In Northern Portugal, a brash crowd of producers - "The Douro Boys" from Port country and the more widely spread Independent Winegrowers' Association - are shifting their sights entirely. No longer wedded to traditional sweet Port, they're making world-class dry table wines from the Port wine grape varieties, indigenous Portuguese red grapes that heretofore have rarely been bottled as varietal wines: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinto Roriz (the Spanish Tempranillo) and more.

Like the Super Tuscan producers, they're growing quality grapes under low-yield conditions, making the wines in high-tech equipment like conical stainless steel fermenters, holding them in pricey small French barrels, and in some cases, diverting the best grapes once reserved for Port to use in the dry Douro reds instead.

Their efforts are gaining attention from outside Portugal, with such French luminaries as Bruno Prats of Chateau Cos d'Estournel and Jean-Michel Cazes of Chateau Lynch-Bages coming in to team with Portuguese producers to make new wines.

And the good news for wine consumers outside Portugal is that these outstanding wines are starting to move into the world market. For reference, here's a list of top producers. To review my tasting reports on many of the wines, follow the link to my "Portugal Wine Diary" reports under "Talk About Wine Online" below.

Douro Boys

Quinta do Vale Dona Maria, Douro
Quinta do Crasto, Douro
Quinta do Vale Meão, Douro
Niepoort, Douro
Quinta do Vallado, Douro

Independent Winegrowers' Association

Casa de Cello, Entre-Douro e Minho/Dão
Alves de Sousa, Douro
Adega Luis Pato, Regional Beiras (Bairrada)
Quinta do Ameal, Vinho Verde
Quinta de Covela, Entre-Douro e Minho
Quinta dos Roques and Quinta das Maias, Dão

I have been posting my wine-and-food reports about my Portugal trip and some photos in a series of discussions under the title "Portugal Wine Diary 2005," beginning at the following link. Please feel free to read that discussion and join in with your comments or questions.

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

California Wine Club
California Wine Club:
Overnight Air For the Cost of 3 Day Service!

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A gift of wine from The California Wine Club is as unique as the person receiving it. Each month your recipient will get two hand-selected bottles of award-winning wine from California's best artisan winemakers. It's just $32.95/month plus shipping, and includes our informative wine magazine, Uncorked. Send as many months as you wish or take advantage of gifts of 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.

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This week on

Some highlights of recent articles on that I hope you'll enjoy:

Bucko's Wine Reports: Winter 2005 Releases
Holiday festivities call for ritual cork popping. In that spirit, Dr. Randy "Bucko" Buckner's monthly 100 new-wine reviews include reports on 16 sparklers.

Hot topics in our WineLovers' Community
There's lots of interesting talk about wine, food and other good things in our WineLovers Community interactive forums. Drop by today!

Cheers to the holidays
Do you freeze when you walk into the wine shop and see hundreds of wines on the shelves? Relax! The friendly folks in our interactive online forum will offer specific wine-gift suggestions to fit your budget and tastes.

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

Because of my travel schedule, The 30 Second Wine Advisor was published only on Monday last week:

 Greetings from Portugal (Dec. 12, 2005)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

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Monday, Dec. 19, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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