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

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: Quinta Dos Quatro Ventos Douro 2005 ($20)”