This was our second gathering of reds from Portugal (the first was in December 2007), and although reviews were varied, none were expensive, and the winner was an absolute bargain.
The top two bottles exhibited the most balance and were separated by only two points. Also notable is that they both came from the great 2011 vintage in the Douro. In third place was the same bottling as the first place wine, just represented by the 2010 vintage.
Andy P felt the grouping was "a mixed bag", with Kristin noting that they were "better with food", and David was impressed that they all "improved with air".
First Place: Dow Vale do Bomfim 2011 (Douro). Tasters noted scents of blueberries, poblano peppers, raspberries, black pepper, and coffee. Great balance, with David finding it "fantastically dark", while Ali detected "a Barbie attack . . . like sweet plastic". Others noted flavors of charcoal, cream, and dark berries. Made from 50% Tinta Barroca, 20% Touriga Nacional, 15% Touriga Franca, and 15% Tinta Roriz. Kristin and both Andys voted this as their top wine, with a total of 27 points. Andy R's bottle. About $12.
Second Place: Crasto Superior 2011 (Douro). Ruby red in color, with a brighter nose suggesting black licorice, rose water, cinnamon, black pepper, and bubble gum. Hints of fennel seed and mint. Ali found "old lady perfume", while David was reminded of "Dr. Pepper". Bright acidity, and gains in density and focus, featuring excellent balance. Composed of 50% Touriga Nacional, 25% Touriga Fanca, 20% Tinta Roriz, and 5% Sousão. David and Resa's favorite. Received 25 points. David's bottle. About $20.
Third Place: Dow Vale do Bomfim 2010 (Douro). Looks thick, with a nose featuring rose petals, acetone, prune, dust, cherry, fennel, and butter. Well-made, with Resa describing it as "sure of itself". Flavors of meat, slate, and coffee, turning to cranberry and lots of acidity on the finish, followed by a toasty note. Same grape composition as the 2011. Everyone gave this at least one point, with a total of 14. Andy P's bottle. About $15.
DFJ Vinhos Portada Winemaker's Selection 2011 (Lisboa). Unfiltered, and smelling of cedar, dust, dill pickles, and rubber. Bright berries in the mouth, plus watermelon rind, pomegranate, cranberry, and raspberry. Less tannic that the others. Simple finish, with not a lot of structure. Doesn't work with the food. Ali's favorite of the night. Received 10 points. Resa's bottle. About $9.
Boas Quintas Herdade de Gambia 2012 (Península de Setúbal). Very dusty, with some mold scents. Andy R detected "plastic sandwich bag" and "aquarium water", while another taster noted hard cherry candies. A bit flat and green, with notions of orange pith. Some bright fruit shows up with air. Kristin stated that "I don't know what to do with this one". Made from Touriga Nacional, Syrah, and Aragonez. Received 8 points. Ali's bottle. About $17.
Cooperativas do Dão Touriga Nacional 2011 (Dão). Unfiltered and opaque. Super-dusty nose, with tasters finding scents of inner-tube, oil, chocolate, lemon rind, burnt sugar, black licorice, and mushroom. Espresso, dark chocolate, tires, and date flavors. Kristin found it to be "rustic", with David describing it as "brooding and shadowy", and Andy P felt that it "reminds me of a dive shop". No points. Kristin's bottle. About $14.