I love Portuguese wines, and make no secret about it. I’ve spent many years and many column inches talking about the fortified wines (both port and madeira), but the table wines are also world-class.

When it comes to table wines, Portugal’s strength is a roster of indigenous or local grapes. Grapes like tinta cão, arinto, encruzado, and baga are practically unheard of in the world at large, and with these grapes the Portuguese make wonderfully authentic wines that encapsulate the definition of terroir.

As I like to call them, they are honest wines, full of character, but also with earthy or rustic characters, sometimes astringent tannins, and sometimes a little weirdness – which is what keeps life interesting.

Quinta da Mimosa 2013
Palmela, Portugal

Coming from just south of Lisbon, Palmela is normally about the castelão grape and for wines to carry the Palmela DOC designation, it has to contain at least 2/3 of this unique grape. Herbal, bursting with black fruits, and chock full of chunky tannins and a touch of jammy flavours – this would be heaven with gamier meats or something braised. CSPC +739431 About $27

Ciconia 2015 Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Aragonez
Alentejo, Portugal

Blackberry fruits and slightly gamey, rustic spices and a good kick of tannin and food-loving acids. While pretty accessible any time of the day, I’d give it the nod for grilled pork, or even Spolumbo-style sausages on the barbecue. CSPC 776046 $15

Luis Pato 2008 Vinha Pan
Bairrada, Portugal

Winemaker Luis Pato is the undisputed master of Bairrada’s baga grape. This difficult grape produces incredibly deep and earthy reds that can age for decades upon decades upon…. you get the point. Smoky and savoury, with leather, black fruit, and more, but with a little elegance too. Wait at least 3-5 more years, but serve with red meat, and lots of it. CSPC +725732 About $50

Baronessa de Vilar 2014 Touriga Nacional
Douro, Portugal

A very agreeable expression of Portugal’s signature red grape varietal with plenty of tightly packed tannins, dense black berry fruits with dried herb and a mild, almost-joyful floral note. The sort of wine that wants braised or grilled meats if possible-or cheese. CSPC +781148 About $17

Alianca 2015 Vinho Verde
Vinho Verde, Portugal

There is something that just evokes warm weather and the thought of drinking wine while your feet dangle in water – and that something is vinho verde. Light and quaffable with a little sweetness and a touch of prickly effervescence on the palate, very tasty, very tropical, and easy on the wallet. No food required. CSPC +780313 $11-12

Monte da Ravasqueira 2012 Fonte de Serrana
Alentejo, Portugal

The exact sort of white wine that I want to drink in Portugal – zingy and tropical with tight acidity that wakes up that tired palate. Mostly antão vaz and arinto grapes, it evokes homemade lemonade, crushed apples, and a touch of peaches. Pair with food if desired, maybe scallops or scampi, even rotisserie chicken! CSPC +759771 $14

Pocas Junior 2012 Vale de Cavalos Tinto
Douro, Portugal

Packed fore to aft with lean, savoury characters, dense, ripe berry fruits and dried herb aromas. Tannins lean towards the firm side of things, with slightly brambly fruits and a long, lean finish. Would be a stunner with braised meats or something saucy. CSPC 773223 $21

Quinta da Alorna 2015 Touriga Nacional Rosé
Ribatejo, Portugal

Pleasing rosé from start to finish with fresh strawberry fruits, cotton candy, cherry, and candy stick. Fairly dry with a slightly herbal character and spiciness on the palate to complement those bright, summery fruits. Would shine with grilled pork or even a little duck. CSPC +740857 $17

Adega de Borba 2013 Reserva
Alentejo, Portugal

Looking for something to enjoy while you are busy charring steaks on the barbeque? Packed in this bottle are an abundance of cherry fruits, black pepper, floral characters and a touch of orange peel. Plenty of fruit on the palate, and tannins that are great with big cuts of meat. CSPC +755928 $26

Luis Pato 2013 Vinhas Velhas Branco
Bairrada, Portugal

A blend of bical, cerceal, and sercialinho, this is a thoughtful, discussion-worthy bottle. Deep and tropical with melon, lemon, flowery tones and a cactus leaf/succulent component to boot on the nose. Tightly wound on the palate with apple core, spice, lime and a vibrancy. Pair with fresh seafood, scallops, or lobster. CSPC +725367 About $21

Jose Maria de Fonseca 2014 Periquita
Setubal, Portugal

A mainstay for those that love premium quality red at an insanely good price. Periquita has been on a lot of wine lists in Calgary and quite a few bottles are still tucked away in the odd cellar. A blend of castelão, trincadeira, and aragonêz varieties, look for blackberry fruits with black liquorice tannins that aren’t too aggressive. Pair with burgers, lasagna, or pork. CSPC +25262 $11

Casa Ermelinda NV Moscatel de Setúbal
Setúbal, Portugal

A wildly interesting and unique product made by fermenting muscat of Alexandria grapes on the skins and arresting the fermentation with a grape brandy. Packing a little sweetness with plenty of acidity to offset any stickiness, the palate is all about orange marmalade, honey, and a tropical flavour that is dynamite with fruity desserts or very dark chocolate. CSPC +752975 About $22

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