“I am sorry, but I hope you understand that we can only taste a few wines from the 1700s and 1800s,” says Richard Hales as he escorts me into the tasting room. Right. That’s how most of my tastings usually begin. Hales is the Wine Director of Asiate, the restaurant in New York’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and a longtime veteran of the company. Hales has prepared an incredible assortment of rare Madeiras for us to taste, many of them recent auction purchases. Few, if any, wines are as evocative as Madeiras, as it is nearly impossible not to wonder what was taking place in the world when they were being made. Readers who enjoy the complexity of fine, aged wines will find much to admire in these sublime, compelling Madeiras.
A surprising number of the top table wines coming out of Portugal today, especially from the Douro Valley, are priced at a level approaching and sometimes surpassing that of top Bordeaux crus and many of Napas cult cabernets
It is clear from my early tastings that 2003 will take its place among the outstanding port vintages of recent decades, along with such stellar years as 2000, 1997, 1994, 1977, 1970, 1966 and 1963
I approached the 2000 vintage ports with some skepticism, figuring that the millennium vintage would be widely declared even if it was a good rather than outstanding year for Portugal's Douro region.
The highly irregular 1999 growing season in Portugal Douro Valley began with a very dry May and June that resulted in near-drought conditions in the vineyards through the end of an unusually hot July
As an antidote to high Burgundy prices, I offer notes on some of the better Portuguese table wines currently available in the U
My tastings of table wines from Portugal this winter turned up a healthy number of characterful, food-friendly wines that manage to be warm and inviting despite their often brisk acids and substantial tannins
Many early reports on the 1997 vintage ports have described the year as outstanding
In the hopes of providing Wine Cellar readers with an alternative to pricey red Burgundies, I have included tasting notes on the best new table wines I've tasted from Portugal in recent months
While a growing number of Portuguese table wines have passed the $20 barrier, most can still be found for less than $12-many in the single digits