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 The California Wine Club
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In This Issue
 Douro reds revisited Taking a quick reality check a couple of months after falling in love with these good-value reds in Portugal, I find they still ring my chimes.
 The California Wine Club Seven Medals in this month's shipment!
 Ramos Pinto 2002 "Duas Quintas" Douro ($8.99) Ripe, balanced and delicious, this hearty red displays the Port varieties in a robust dry table wine of excellent value. Search dozens of New Arrivals and get extra $15 savings through Sunday, Feb. 26.
 This week on Our WineLovers Community discusses the possible impact of global climate change on world wine regions, and compares notes on rosé.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index The Wine Advisor archives.
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Douro reds revisited

In a modest effort to draw a reasonable balance between dewy-eyed enthusiasm and gimlet-eyed cynicism, I have a simple reality-check rule about those exciting discoveries that come during wine travel: No matter how much I loved a wine when I tasted it on the scene, wait a month or two, then try it again.

I'm happy to report that such a reality check on the red table wines of Portugal's Duoro region - dry wines made from the grape varieties traditionally reserved for sweet, fortified Port - passed this test with ease.

A recent revisit to the current (2002) release of Ramos Pinto's Duas Quintas (purchased locally at retail, not hand-carried home from Portugal), revealed all the good things I remembered from tasting similar wines in the Douro in December: Ripe, fresh-fruit cherry and berry flavors, consistent with the aroma profile of Port, in a full-bodied, dry table wine.

Dry Douro table wines aren't exactly a new discovery - I've got notes on a few of them, including Duas Quintas, back to the early 1990s. But this entire category is hardly ancient history: The first such Douro wine was Ferreira's iconic Barca Velha, which goes back to 1952 and, in recent vintages, sells for close to $100 a bottle (if you can find it). It was 20 years before the second such wine came along, Quinta do Cotto's Grand Escolha, which is produced only in small quantities in excellent vintages and is almost impossible to find in the U.S.; it commands 30€ to 80€ in Europe.

It took almost another full generation, until 1990, before the third dry Douro red appeared: Duas Quintas from the Port house Ramos Pinto. The name ("Two Vineyards") reflects the sources of its grapes. Ramos Pinto's Quinta de Ervamoira is located on the lower slopes of the precipitous Douro Valley, where the microclimate is hot and dry, fostering fully ripened, luscious grapes; its Quinta dos Bons Ares vineyard is high up the mountainside, where cooler, breezy conditions are said to foster fresh, pure flavors in the fruit. It's a blend of Tinta Roriz (the same grape that the Spanish call Tempranillo in Rioja and Ribero del Duero) and Touriga Nacional (perhaps the premier grape of Port).

The hard-to-find Duas Quintas Reserva sells for $30 and up. The widely distributed regular bottling, today's featured tasting, may be technically a "lesser" wine, but at $10 or less, it's one of the best red-wine values around.

After this gradual start, the floodgates have opened in recent years, and just about every Port producer now makes a dry Douro red; some make several. You'll find quite a few notes in my Portugal Wine Diary 2005,

For another outstanding value, one of our new sponsors,, is currently offering the Altano 2001 Douro Red, a Tinta Roriz and Touriga France blend from the Symington family's Port company, on sale for $6.95, an offer almost too good to refuse, by the bottle or by the case as a warming house wine for the shank end of the winter season. For details and a buy-it link, see the feature below or click directly to
(Be sure to enter the code GOLD2006 at checkout to qualify for the discount.)

If you'd like to ask a question or comment in more detail on today's topic (or any other wine-related subject), you'll find a round-table online discussion in our interactive WineLovers Community, where you're always welcome to join in the conversations about wine.

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
Seven Medals in this month's California Wine Club shipment!

Drytown Cellars, located in the Sierra Foothills, produces just 2,500 cases each year. This award-winning micro-winery is this month's featured winery with The California Wine Club. Take a look at the two great wines hand-selected by Bruce and Pam Boring for this month's California Wine Club members:

  • Drytown Cellars 2004 "California" Malvasia - This antique Italian white variety is boldly fruity and spicy, with a floral nose that belies its dry finish. 1 Gold, 2 Silver, 4 Bronze Medals!
  • Drytown Cellars 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon - Flavors of blackberry introduce this easy-to-drink Cab, with notes of smoke, olive, black currant and cedar. A classic Cab with firm structure and tannins.

This month's selection is just $32.95 plus shipping and includes the beautiful wine magazine, Uncorked. To sample this month's selection for yourself, or to send it as a gift, call 1-800-777-4443 or visit

Duas Quintas Ramos Pinto 2002 "Duas Quintas" Douro ($8.99)

A blend of the Port varieties Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional, this is an inky blackish-purple wine with a clear red-violet edge. Black and red cherries and berries and a dash of spice fill the aroma and flavor, a combination that offers a hint of Port without the fortified alcohol or the sweetness. The fruit is appealing but restrained: This is no mere "fruit bomb;" good fresh-fruit acidity and smooth tannins provide excellent structure and balance. U.S. importer: Maisons, Marques and Domaines USA Inc., Oakland, Calif. (Feb. 19, 2006)

FOOD MATCH: This robust but balanced wine is made for red meat, and worked just fine with the comfort-food style of a beef pot roast.

VALUE: I ran into an unusually good price (at Old Town Wine & Spirits in Louisville), the same as I had paid for the 1995 vintage of this wine seven years ago. indicates that you're more likely to find it from $10 to the lower teens, but it's still a very good value at that price point.

WHEN TO DRINK: This basic red is made for immediate enjoyment (the Reserva will cellar longer). But these ageworthy grapes and this balanced style would certainly hold up and might even evolve with five years or more of cellar time.

The winery Website is available in Portuguese, French and English at this link:
I find its graphical Flash menus a bit difficult to navigate, but the colorful photos give a sense of what the property is like.

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This week on

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

Hot topics in our WineLovers' Community
Our WineLovers' Discussion Groups, the Internet's first wine forums, are the No. 1 place online to ask wine questions and participate in the civil and intelligent discussion of good things to eat and drink. Drop by today!

Will global warming shift world wine zones?
Is climate change likely to foster significant alterations in world wine regions within our lifetimes? A New Zealand writer thinks so. What's your opinion? You're invited to stop in and discuss this issue in our WineLovers Community!

Do you like Rosé?
Does pink wine ring your chimes, or simply bore you? Tell us about your favorite rosé!

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:

 Drinking rocks (Feb. 17, 2006)

 Winter Olympics mood (Feb. 15, 2006)

 Rediscovering Australia (Feb. 13, 2006)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Memories from Portugal (Feb. 16, 2006)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

For all past editions, click here


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Monday, Feb. 20, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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