Christmas suggestions from central and northern Portugal

For this selection I have singled out some wines that all represent good value for money but are also a bit special. Let’s start with Soalheiro Granit, currently one of my favourite Alvarinho varietals. The main label Soalheiro costs a few euros less whilst Granit costs a few euros less than the premium wines from Soalheiro such as Primeiras Vinhas. The grapes come from a small lot at higher altitude where the soil is rich in granite. It is a wine of great freshness and quite some complexity with a mineral character, ideal to serve with a smoked salmon or seafood starter, €12.95.

Last week I singled out an excellent Portuguese sparkling wine from the Lisbon region, Quinta do Rol Blanc de Blanc, and here is another one, this time from the Bairrada – Hibernus Cuvée de Noirs Vintage 2015. This is one of the best Portuguese sparklers out there, especially for those of who like it dry, a Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature made from Baga and Touriga national grapes,  this is white with a very subtle hint of pink, clean and crisp with an extremely fine bubble, €24.95.

As for a red, my personal choice for Christmas turkey would be something medium bodied like a Pinot Noir but for those of you looking for something with more body, I am suggesting this top quality Dão. The modern style of reds being produced in the Dão region these days is as close in style to Bordeaux as you will find in Portugal, wines with some power and structure, usually on the lighter side of full bodied. This São Matias Dão Reserva is a good example and it comes from the great vintage of 2013, which as those who know their Dão will know is best vintage of recent times for the Dão region, €18.95.

Moving up the Douro now for my final two suggestions, for your pudding and cheese respectively, we have a sweet wine and an LBV Port. The sweet wine is a late harvest from Douro producer Aneto and I would class this as one of the best value for money unfortified pudding wines made in Portugal. The wine is made from the Simillon grape and is one of the few such wines in Portugal benefiting from Botrytis (noble rot). This 2010 vintage has aged beautifully, amber/gold in colour with notes of candied apples on the nose, great acidity with a lusciously sweet yet clean finish, €16.95 for a 375ml bottle. And as for a port, you could do much worse than this 2010 LBV from Rozés. Basically, anything with the Rozés label on it tends to be good. This is, after all, the Douro outpost of the great Champagne house Pommery. They produce some truly great vintages and aged tawnies which are all reassuringly expensive but this LBV is very reasonably priced, €13.95.

Happy festive tipples to all!

All prices mentioned are at Apolónia

By Patrick Stuart