A Simple Pleasure: Portuguese Red

Portugal is one of those region in the world that is the most misunderstood … quite simply it’s because the average consumer does not recognize the grape varieties on the label, that is if there is a grape variety listed on the label at all.  Portugal is known more for Port wines, that sweet, spicy after-dinner drink that grandpa used to hang out in the study in his smoking jacket with, and not dry reds or whites.  But in truth some of the best wine values are coming from that country including this Bacalhoa 2010 JP Red, one of the most popular Portuguese wines in the world (or so the propaganda says).  This wine just made it’s way to the LCBO and for the price you just have to check this one out, even if you don’t know the grape varieties:  a mere $8.95 … the only grape you’ll recognize in the wine is Syrah, which makes up the smallest part of the blend.  The other two grapes are indigenous varieties to Portugal: Castelão and Aragonez – and that’s what seems to cause all the problems between the consumer and Portuguese wines, they have no idea what these grapes are or what they do – heck they’ve never even heard of them.  I’m here to tell you, “Have no fear”, the Portuguese know what they’re doing and they make some really excellent wines, so don’t be afraid to try them.  This bottle of JP Red (also called JP Azeitao Red) has a beautiful nose loaded with smoky-vanilla notes, along with cherry, plum, chocolate and licorice – now how can that be bad?  On the palate some might pick up on a bit of a cedary note,but that might be your brain playing tricks on you because the JP Red sees no oak.  Instead you should pick up on some herbal and spice notes along with black cherry and nice acidity, a perfect pairing for something meaty.  The thing you should most notice about this wine is the amazing fruit that sings from the glass.  Bacalhoa 2010 JP Azeitao Red – $8.95, #286195 (Rating: 4 stars – very good)