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Friday, June 08, 2007


A New Douro

I've always had a soft spot for Portugal. Perhaps because it's Spain's red-headed stepchild, or it could be that it's my father's homeland which was abandoned like a foster child for greener pastures. There was always something about it that I couldn’t help but find attractive, perhaps the bucolic notion of old villages sans electricity packed w/ old ladies listening to Fado music, while diligently hanging laundry to dry beside clay walls got me all sentimental.

Unfortunately my experiences w/ their spirits brought me little sense of nationalistic pride. My first experience w/ cheap tawny was at the tender age of 10, while fond memories of facial flushing and anaphylaxis left me pleasure-less. Subsequent years were even thinner on patriotism as brutish plonk came in droves while renditions of Lancers, Vinho Verde and Dao swill mistreated esophagus. If it weren’t for Christiano Ronaldo & his underdog boys in red making waves on a global stage, I’d be hard pressed to show face amongst my elitist German compadres.

But alas, there is hope. That hope began w/ the esoteric intensity of vintage Port, and has transported its way to a drier, table friendly version. Now that my countrymen realize a bit of an up tick in Global demand for their high quality reds has occurred, the technology and passion is back and better than ever. Niepoort the new Rothschild, Quinta the new Chateau? Who knows, but oh is there ever quality in those terraced slops of Douro gold. We know that Touriga Nacional can compete w/ Cabernet Sauvignons nobility, depth and complexity, but can little Portugal persevere in the premium marketplace? My taste buds certainly say yes, but then again, I am biased.

What is the worst thing that could happen from further investment in fashioning high quality, dry reds from Portugal? I suppose we could be over-run by more premium wines in less than stratospheric price brackets. I can’t imagine a better dilemma to be faced w/.

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