Portugal Por Favor
There are three things that you should know about Portugal beyond the hospitality fame of excellent wine, delicious food and friendly people everywhere you go. The reason you should be aware of these three things is, this series of events had a huge impact on the wine world, changing it forever. The first was a series of catastrophic events that took place starting on All Saints day, Sunday, November 1st 1755. The second was the installment of the Minister of State Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, the Marquis de Pombal to reconstruct Lisbon and the third was the establishment of a classification system for Port wine from the Douro Valley.
On the morning of November 1st, 1755, a high magnitude earth quake, centered off the Atlantic coast, shook Lisbon for 6 - 10 minutes. Within an hour of this, a massive tsunami hit the shores of Lisbon, where many survivors had sought refuge. This was followed by 5 days of fires that brought Lisbon to its knees. Thousands were dead, debris everywhere and the city was in ruins. The sea which had provided Lisbon with its gateway to the free world and market success and now suddenly it has claimed it back.
Marquis de Pombal
The King was deeply traumatized by the events and appointed the Marquis de Pombal to take charge. Pombal was very clever and saw this as an opportunity to bring innovation and forward looking ideas to his homeland. Pombal a believer in science, was responsible for establishing building codes, engineering roadways, devising protective reinforcements along the Tagus River so that no tsunami could ever cross land and bury the city again.
Demarcation of the Port Wine Region
If you know a little about the world of wine, then you know that fraud has always played a part, skirting the periphery and causing problems for growers and producers of authentic wine. This was no different back in 1756 when trade between England and Portugal was so great that counterfeit wine was perhaps a bigger problem than it is today. It was by decree in 1756 by the Marquis de Pombal declared vineyards along the Douro river to be classified by quality through a rating system. The decree also set the direction for standardizing the process of making port wine. This was 100 years before France set out to establish its own system of appellation controls and paved the way for a new era of authenticity in wine trade.
With over 250 indigenous grape varieties, including many hard to pronounce to the average English speaking wine lover, Portugal is a value wine destination worth exploring. The most famous grape variety – Touriga Nacional features prominently in the dry red wines of the Dão & Douro Valley (home of world famous fortified wine, Port). Today Touriga Nacional is commonly blended together with Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Baga, Syrah and Alicante Bouchet in many more of Portugal’s emerging regions.
From north to south Portuguese Reds offer interesting characters and flavours that go well with regional and international cuisine. The following are some recommendations curated from the BC Liquor Store website and Marquis Wine Cellar. Prices are before tax.
Quinta do Crasto 2018 Flor de Crasto $19.04 | Marquis
Quinta Noval Cedro do Noval 2016 $29.99
Quinta do Vale Meao Meandro 2017 $31.49
Luis Seabra Indie Xisto 2016 $72.08 | Marquis
Quinta do Vesuvio 2015 $89.99
Quinta Mondego - Mondeco $17.99
Pedra Cancela - Selecao do Enologo $17.99
Dão Sul 2018 “Cabriz” Colheita Seleccionada $21.65 | Marquis
Opta - Touriga Nacional $24.99
Luis Pato Beira Atlantico Baga Tourigal Nacional $19.99
Casca Wines 2019 Monte Cascas Organic $29.47 | Marquis
Lisboa & Setubal
Sanguinhal 2017 Cerejeiras Tinto $15.57 | Marquis
Casa Santos Lima Confidencial 2018 $15.99
Quinta de Chocapalha Castelao 2017 $24.99
Quinta das Cerejeiras 2011 Tinto Reserva $47.74
Earthy Dao or elegant Douro red wines suit the spicy and garlic poultry and meat dishes that are common in Portugal. Chicken, duck, and partridge seasoned with peri-peri, garlic and olive oil. Here is a recipe for the best Peri Peri sauce ever.
Charcuterie that includes Portuguese sausages like Chouriço, a heavily smoked sausage made of pork, lots of garlic and paprika, and piri-piri sauce is a great option. Check out Oyama Sausage co at Granville Island.
Strong or hard cheeses would best be paired with big wines made of Alicante Bouschet, Tinto Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, or Baga. Call Les Amis du Fromage for suggestions.