Tuella Douro Vinho Tinto 2011

This intriguing red blend from Portugal is made with Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão grapes.  Touriga Franca (or Touriga Francesa) is one of the major grape varieties used to produce port wine.  Touriga Franca is lighter and more perfumed than Touriga Nacional, adding finesse to the Port.  I’m assuming that’s why it’s used here as well.  Tinta Barroca is a Portuguese red wine grape that is grown primarily in the Douro region with some plantings in South Africa where the only single varietal Tinta Barroca wines are produced.  Wine-searcher.com tells us when used for single varietal wines, the result is “… intense, super-ripe, and high-alcohol.”  In Portugal, it is also a common blending grape in Port wine.  Finally, Tinta Cão is a wine grape variety that has been grown primarily in the Douro region since the sixteenth century and is yet another of the 50 approved grape varietals used in the production of Port.  According to winegeeks.com, “When grown at higher elevations Tinta Cão can have an intensely floral and spicy aroma with hints of black cherries and Christmas spices ….”

For my own experimentation’s sake, I am going to have to look for the single varietal wines from Touriga Franca and Tinta Barroca.  Seems Tinto Cão is perhaps only used in blended reds.   That may be due in part to it’s typically low crop yields.  If you have a favorite Touriga Franca or Tinta Barroca you’d recommend, please drop me a note.  For now, I will have to content myself with experiencing these three varietals together.

Winemaker:  Tuella by Symington Family Estates
Wine:  Douro Vinho Tinto
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  Douro, Portugal DOC
Price:  $6.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  When I poured this Vinho Tinto into my glass, I got a beaker full of inky purple.  The bouquet brought me blackberry, spices, earth, and wood fragrances.  The body of this red table wine was light.  I would peg it’s acidity at medium and the tannins at the upper end of medium.  Alcohol was at 13.5%.  On the palate I tasted leather, blackberry, plum, and oak with notes of coffee grounds and pepper.  The solid tannins brought a bite of menthol, and it finished off with a repeat of stewed plums and spice.  Overall a pretty decent wine experience pulled from the budget selections – especially if you want your red wine to bite back a tad.  It had a rustic feel to it, which seems appropriate for a table wine.  This is not one to accompany your filet mignon, but it’ll be fine with casual meat dishes or perhaps some hearty cozinha país (country cuisine).  Wait, did I say that right?  Well, you know what I mean – homestyle cooking not fancy fare.

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Lello Douro Vinho Tinto 2010

Lello Douro Vinho Tinto is made from Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca grapes that come from producers in the Cima Corgo and Douro Superior sub-regions of the Douro River Valley in Portugal.  Although the Douro Valley region is most famous for another fermented grape product (Port/Porto), it produces quite a bit of non-fortified wine as well.  The history of wine production in the area goes back a number of years.  Archaeologists have discovered evidence of wine-making as early as the 3rd century AD.  This modern example is from a label in the Vinhos Borges stable of wines, Lello, which was evidently relaunched in 2006.

Winemaker:  Lello (by Vinhos Borges)
Wine:  Douro Vinho Tinto
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2010
Appellation:  Douro, Portugal DOC
Price:  $8.99 at Whole Foods ($4.99 for 375 ml)

Notes:  The color of this Portuguese red blend was a dark garnet.  In the bouquet I smelled berries and a dustiness.  It was a light-weight offering (not a pejorative comment here) with good acidity and moderate tannins.  Flavors for me were bright cherry with raspberry notes, plenty of oak, a dash of pepper, and hints of sweet tobacco.  On the finish I found some dustiness and a slight touch of carob.  Alcohol is 13%.  When first opened, the oak was overbearing.  But with some time to breathe, it settled nicely.  I haven’t had many Portuguese wines.  That’s one of the things that attracted me to this Lello.  This vinho tinto made a good enough impression to ensure I’ll be back for more in the future.

If you’re looking at the photo and thinking the proportions might be just a little off — that’s because this is a picture of the 375 ml bottle.  Both the 750 and 375 ml bottles were available at Whole Foods.  Given that I wanted to taste it but didn’t have a group of friends coming over that evening, I grabbed the smaller bottle.  I think it’s a great option for folks who just want a couple of glasses of vinho.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.