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Dry Douro red wins Portuguese taste-off

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

Portugal has long been known for its sweet red fortified wines from the Douro region called Oporto or Port. Vintage Ports are some of the most complex and ageworthy wines available, and are highly sought after. But what about Portugal's dry red wines?

To explore this question, the staff at Northside Wine & Spirits conducted a blind tasting of a dozen Portuguese dry red wines costing $20 and under.

Many of the wines tasted were made from the grapes traditionally used to make Port, such as Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, and Touriga Franca. Some of the wines weremade using obscure grape varieties such as Alfrocheiro or Castelão, while others were made from international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tradition, however, clearly won the day in this tasting. Made from a blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, and Touriga Nacional, the $15 2003 Prazo de Roriz, which just happens to hail from the Douro region, stole first place. It elicited "oohs" and "ahs" from tasters for its rich, spicy and structured blueberry, black raspberry, and plum characteristics.

Incidentally, the May 31, 2005 issue of Wine Spectator reviewed this wine and labeled it a "smart buy," scoring it an impressive 91 points.

Any way you look at it, Portugal has come a long way with its dry red wines and efforts such as this one should not be overlooked. Be sure to try this fruit bomb with grilled lamb chops rubbed with garlic and olive oil.

"Top Wine Picks" As seen in the Ithaca Journal 7/4/05

Northside Wine & Spirits is located a the Ithaca Shopping Plaza on Elmira Road.

Phone 607-273-7500

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