As a wine region, Portugal used to be defined almost exclusively by port, the fortified wine for which it has long been famous. But Portugal’s red table wines are now getting a good deal of attention — and deserve even more.
The Vallado estate, or quinta in Portuguese, dates back to 1716 and is one of the oldest in the Douro region, which is named after the Douro River. It produces a range of red and white table wines as well as various styles of port.
Vallado’s 2018 Douro (the name refers to the region and denomination of origin just as Rioja does in Spain and Bordeaux does in France) is a steal at about $16. It’s made from some of the same grapes used in port, primarily Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Roriz.
This medium-bodied wine has a smooth elegance and is marked by concentrated dark fruit notes — blackberry, cassis, and plum — with touches of bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and herbs. Its refined tannins provide just enough framework for the ripe fruit, adding a layer of complexity.
All the grapes used to produce this wine were estate-grown; Vallado points out that most were from young vines but about a quarter were from vines more than 80 years old. The resulting wine has a youthful exuberance but also a concentration suggestive of these old vines.
The freshness also comes from the fact that three-quarters of the blend was aged in stainless-steel tanks, with the rest matured in previously used oak barrels, giving the wine a muted wood influence.