30 December 2009

Expanding Palates with Portuguese Wines - Tasting Notes

On October 28th, a guy who is super passionate about wine and a social media guru released a video of a wine tasting done during the 2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. In case you haven’t already figured it out, I am talking about Gary Vaynerchuk and his show Wine Library TV. As it so happens, I was able to participate in this tasting and filming when it was done back on September 25th. You can see the finished product below.

The tasting focused on grape varietals from Portugal that are rarely sought after by the average American wine consumer. The three red wines offered something for everyone, and Gary did a fantastic job facilitating the filming of the Wine Library TV episode and discussion afterwards, despite the circumstances. Those circumstances included sitting down at tables with black tablecloths, in the direct sun of Florida that was hanging over the cape of the Italy pavilion, with no shade for approximately an hour and a half.Anyone who knows anything about wine knows that while the environment and temperature that you are in when you partake in a wine isn’t everything, it certainly contributes to the overall taste and flavors one experiences. In order to give the wines a fair taste, I attempted to find the same wines and taste them for a second time in the comfort of my own home. Unfortunately, no wine shops in the area had the wines, or even saw them as available in North Carolina. With a little digging online, however, most of the wines can be found. Below are the wines and my notes for each.

2006 Quinta Do CabrizThe first thing I smelled with this wine was cherry and something spicy, the tang of which was similar to sour candies. In the background, I could almost smell some sweet flowers. When it comes to taste, this wine is a bit of a shock. That cherry is still there, as is the twinge of sour, but the wine is also very smooth, leaving an aftertaste that reminds me of something creamy. The only comparison I have for the feeling this wine leaves in my mouth, the feeling not the taste, is that of a well-crafted hot chocolate. This was, by far, my favorite wine of the tasting.2006 Monte Del Cal RedThe smell of this wine was all steakhouse. It scent betrayed a spicy, peppery, meaty aroma that actually caused my nasal passage to spasm. The taste of this medium-to-full bodied wine was bitter and had aspects of deep dark berries and very dark dark chocolate. I am not a fan of dark chocolate, and therefore found this to be the least appealing of the wines. However, for those who savor the richness and acidic flavors associated with dark chocolate, this is most likely an excellent wine.

2007 Quinta Do Castro Douro RedThe instant I place my nose to this wine I was reminded of my grandmother’s kitchen. Having come from southern France, she kept as much of her homeland with her in her food and surroundings, the perfume of this wine had that same floral French flavor to it. The taste, however, left me with more of a sturdy oak impression. With the second tasting a bit more of the floral flavors returned, but not enough to move this from the middle of the wine samplings.All of these wines are available for under twenty dollars a bottle, some are actually under ten dollars, but as stated above, they are difficult to procure. The point of the Gary's tasting exercise, however, is that so many of us get locked in to a certain varietal or type of wine, however, there are so many flavors, and textures, and grapes that we haven’t even begun to sample. The benefit of having this tasting in Epcot’s World Showcase is that there is a world of wine surrounding you that is within walking distance. So, the next time you are in World Showcase step away from the cabernet, merlot, and pinot and try the Wine Walk (which we will discuss in an upcoming article) or ask the sommelier what they recommend.

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