Exploring Portuguese Wine

cabriz

With the exception of Port, we haven’t had much experience with wines from Portugal. We’re tasting Cabriz, a dry red blend from the Dão wine region that became a DOC appellation in 1990. The Dão region is a mountainous area ranging in altitude from about 650 feet to 3300 feet above sea level. Vineyards are mainly on a plateau sheltered by three mountain ranges. Cool nights in the higher altitude yield slower ripening and good acidity. The region has abundant winter rains followed by a long, dry summer.

Tasting Cabriz from Dão, Portugal provides an opportunity to learn about the area’s indigenous grape varietals such as Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro Preto, Tinta Roriz, and Encruzado. The Touriga Nacional varietal, often regarded as Portugal’s finest, is the principal component in Port. Tinta Roriz, known as Tempranillo in Spain, is the main grape used in Rioja and is also used as a blending grape in Port. Alfrocheiro is known for its deep color and is typically used as a blending grape. Encruzado, one of Portugal’s top white grape varieties, is used as a single varietal and as a primary ingredient in Dão blends.

Cabriz is a blend of 40% Alfrocheiro, 40% Tinta Roriz, and 20% Touriga Nacional. The pour is a bright garnet color with lavender highlights along the rim. A restrained nose has notes of blackberry and violet. The rich, dense coloring may lead you to expect a full-body mouth feel, but to the contrary, Cabriz is light to medium bodied. The flavor is bright and tangy on the palate, beginning with ripe dark berries and following through with dried prunes, oak, and minerals. The taste ends in a smooth finish that’s not overly long but noticeable.

Overall, Cabriz is subtle, yet structured, balanced, and slightly complex. With 40% Tinta Roriz, the similarity of Cabriz to Spanish Tempranillo is quite evident. If you’re a fan of Tempranillo, this wine is one to try. In support of the wine’s more neutral profile, it was better paired with cheese than sipped without food. Best of all, it’s a great value in the $10-15 price range.

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