A reliable old friend

Periquita is one of the best-known Portuguese wines on the market and, considering that it was the first ever wine to be bottled in Portugal, this is no surprise.

Here, I am focusing on the “Reserva”, the slightly posher version of good old regular Periquita with the white label and red lettering that costs around €4. Good cheap wine is one of the benefits of living here in Portugal and whilst I usually dedicate this column to less run-of-the-mill wines costing a great deal more, sometimes it is good to get back to basics.

Regular Periquita is my chicken ‘piri-piri’ wine. Served slightly chilled, it is a pleasant, medium-bodied and very-easy-drinking red that I personally find to be far more appealing (or should I say less offensive) than anything else in its price range.

Periquita’s posh cousin, however, the Reserva, is a far more serious wine that consistently scores a very respectable 90 points in Wine Spectator, something quite impressive for a red costing around €8.

Like its poor cousin, this is a medium-bodied red, made in the Setúbal sub-region and, in this case, from a blend of Castelão with smaller quantities of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca. The wine spends eight months in a combination of used French oak and new American oak.

On the nose, there is lush up-front fruit with some spicy notes and a slight toastiness from the oak. Smooth and rounded in the mouth with soft tannins and a nice refreshing finish.

This really is a lot of wine for the money, and it is no surprise that the annual production of the Reserva, now over 1.1 million bottles, is around double that of regular Periquita. This is not a wine to lay up for years and years by any means, but a year or two of bottle-ageing will be rewarded.

patrick.stuart@open-media.net