A Wine Lover's Weekly Guide To $10 Wines - A Red Blend Of Portuguese Port Grapes

The wine reviewed below comes from the Duoro Valley region of Northern Portugal, a region known for Port and both red and white wine. It comes from four local grapes, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (called Tempranillo in Spain), and Tinta Barroca. These are all Port grapes, in fact Touriga Nacional is considered to be the best grape for Port. Well, what about turning them into red wine? This is actually a 2002, which was purchased quite recently, and believe me, our wine stores don't carry  much of this "old" wine. In spite of the wine tasting I finished the bottle in about the same time as usual, but for a change left the third meal for last and found that I almost "lost" the wine. Moral of the story, don't let your bottle "hang around" too long.
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and revieware purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Sogrape Vila Regia Reserve 2002 13.0% % alcohol about $10

Let's start with the marketing materials. Tasting Note: Deep crimson with purple tints; aromas and flavors of tobacco, earth with hints of raisin; soft, easy-drinking with nice balance. Serving Suggestion: Serve with cheese, stews or braised dishes. And now for my review.

I started by sipping this wine alone. The most prominent feature was the puckering acids. I could taste the oak. The first meal included slow-cooked meatballs accompanied by sliced potatoes. The wine was palate-cleansing and round with round tannins. It enveloped the food. This blend was neither long nor complex but it was quite pleasant. Adding spicy green jalapeno sauce increased the wine's spiciness.

The second meal was a commercial barbecued chicken leg and grilled eggplant. The wine displayed a lot of extract and mild acidity. It was well-balanced and did not overwhelm the chicken. This red wine did a fine job of cutting the grease. Now the eggplant managed to cut across the wine but I did get some black cherry notes.

The final meal consisted of a middle-eastern specialty, called kube or kibbe; ground beef slow-cooked in jackets of crushed wheat in a peppery tomato sauce. The wine was mouth filling with a lot of oak and dark fruit. It had pleasant acidity and I was pleased with the tannins in the background. I actually had this meal after tasting the cheese and I could tell that the wine wasn't far from turning.

As always, I tasted the wine with two local cheeses. With a Yellow Cheddar I was still able to taste the oak and earth as well. A more forceful White Havarti thinned the wine and made its acidity less pleasant. I actually tasted grapes.

Final verdict. I would buy this wine again. It does qualify as a bargain. It's not that often that we get to buy an "old" 2002 vintage at this price. And between you and me, I prefer these grapes transformed into wine instead of Port.

Levi Reiss is the author or co-author of ten computer and Internet books, but really would rather just drink fine German or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Check out his global wine website is http://www.theworldwidewine.com with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.