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Quinta do Carmo captures kudos in Pg. tinto taste-off

Northside Staff Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Dana Malley, Jason Wentworth

Most American wine consumers are familiar with three aspects of Portuguese wine: the two famous fortified wines, Port and Madeira, and to a lesser extent, Vinho Verde, the light, slightly fizzy white. Additionally, there are the big brands, Mateus and Lancers, whose uniquely shaped bottles frequently become candle holders.

Portugal, however, is also home to a broad range of red and white table wines, many of which are made from grape varieties rarely seen elsewhere. In the past the reds were often astringent and lacked fruit, while the whites were routinely oxidized and lifeless. Since joining the European Union in 1986, however, Portugal's wines have steadily improved due to increased investment and stricter controls.

The staff at Northside Wine & Spirits recently blind tasted 15 dry Portuguese reds from eight different Portuguese wine regions. The first-place wine was the 2001 Quinta do Carmo Tinto, priced at $20 per bottle. This wine hails from the extensive southern Portuguese region of Alentejo, an area where a surge in Portugal's wine quality is most evident [Sku 10185].*

Quinta do Carmo is a very old estate now partly owned by the Rothschild family of Château Lafite-Rothschild in Bordeaux. Like so many Bordeaux reds, the 2001 Quinta do Carmo is a blend of several grape varieties, the main grape being Aragonez, better known to Spanish wine drinkers as Tempranillo. Other Portuguese grapes in the blend include Alicante, Periquita, and Trincadeira, as well as "international" varieties Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

This elegant, finely balanced dry red wine has a complex nose exhibiting scents of dried fruits, cedar, pepper, and coffee. The palate is smooth and velvety, with tastes of cherry and cassis finishing with a nice hint of vanilla. Try this lovely wine with lamb or game, roast pork, or a thick, warming potato soup.

"Top Wine Picks" as seen in The Ithaca Journal 11/12/2007.

*To purchase this wine, simply type its "Sku" into the "Find" field at the top of the page, then click "Go."

If you would like the full tasting list along with the rankings, please email us your name, phone number, city, and zip code to

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