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Wine Review: Quinta Dos Quatro Ventos Douro 2005 ($20)

Thursday, June 26, 2008 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

Portugal’s not just about Port anymore. In years past, dry Portuguese red wines were often a little rough around the edges, but a new breed of young winemakers is now using the country’s wealth of local grape varieties to produce first-class, affordable, table wines.

I’m a big fan of the dry reds from Portugal. You can find bottles in the $15-20 range with terrifically complex flavors derived from blends of the country’s 500-odd grape varieties – that’s right, 500 types of grapes in one small country.

This week’s wine tasting takes us to the main Port-producing region of Douro. I visited the area back in the ‘90s and the geography is jaw-dropping. Locals spent the past 2,000 years constructing vine terraces that are cut into the rock face overlooking the Douro River.

And now, the wine: Quinta Dos Quatro Ventos is made with a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Francesca. On the nose, I detected hickory sticks, smoked ham, plum and a hint of flint. It’s a bold, meaty wine – almost like drinking port without the fortification. The taste of the Port grapes brought back great memories of sitting on a café patio in Porto overlooking the river at night. Loads of ripe fruit come through on the mid-palette, with a bit of alcoholic bite at 14.0%, but it’s still a dry wine that’s easy to sip on its own.

Quaffability Rating: 89

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Wine Review: Ortas Tradition Rasteau 2006

Thursday, June 19, 2008 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

Wine Review: Ortas Tradition Rasteau 2006 ($16)

This wine journey begins in France. I don’t actually drink a lot of French wine, but I've made a summer resolution to explore more of it. After all, the French have been making wine for at least 2,500 years, so they must have a pretty good idea of what they're doing. And despite the prominence of high-priced premier crus, you can still find some good-value wines from France.

The Côtes du Rhône region, along the Rhone river in the south of the country, produces some beautiful medium-bodied, fruit-driven red wines, and the Rasteau village has a reputation for bottling some of the richest reds in the region, using the same grapes as the famous (and expensive) Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Ortas Tradition Rasteau combines balance and strength. Cherries and violets jump out of the glass on the nose (I'm talking figuratively, here). On the palette, red berry flavours join complex notes of prunes and tobacco. The wine has a rustic edge to it, but the tannins and acids do a fine job of intermingling, resulting is a smooth, lip-smacking finish.

For $16, it’s a definite bargain.

Quaffability Rating: 88

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Michal Kapral has been enjoying wine at home since way before he was of legal age. The editor-in-chief of Canadian Running magazine runs marathons to burn off all the calories he consumes on wine and cheese. Kapral spent some time living in Italy as a teenager, solidifying his appreciation for all things wine-related. In his days as a journalism student, he was likely one of the youngest – and poorest – subscribers to Wine Spectator magazine. In 1999, Kapral turned down a job at a winery to work at Captivate, where he spent 11 years as a news editor.


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The Quaffer

Highlighting the best new wines from around the world, in the price range of $10-40, Michal "The Quaffer" Kapral reminds viewers some of the finer things in life are most definitely within their reach. This feature focuses on North American wines and includes reviews, food pairings and news from the world of wine.