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Altano Douro 2019, Rewilding Edition

Altano Douro 2019, Rewilding Edition

€33.50 for a 2,25 litre Bag-in-Tube from O’Briens

This week a bag-in-box, or rather bag-in-tube wine from the Douro valley in Portugal. Made from a blend of Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Touriga Franca, this is a very attractive easy-drinking wine at a keen price. Forward, with fruit and herb aromas, juicy ripe red cherry and plum fruits and subtle tannins on the finish. This is big enough to partner most white and red meats, but supple enough to make it easy to sip solo.

I know some wine drinkers turn up their noses at bag-in-box, but I find them very useful; if I feel like a single glass of wine, or need to add wine to stews or sauces, I no longer have to open a full bottle. In the past many B-i-Bs were filled with cheap wine that you would be wary about using for cooking let alone drinking. But this is slowly changing. For a decade or more, Bag-in-Box has been very popular in Sweden, largely due to price. The 2.25 litre Altano Rewilding works out at €11.17 a bottle – excellent value for money – but it is also a green alternative to glass bottles.

The Altano Rewilding is made by The Symington Family Estates, who own Graham’s, Dow, Warre’s and Cockburn’s port as well as substantial vineyard holdings in the Douro valley. Some of the proceeds from sales will go towards the Rewilding Portugal conservation project – see www.symington.com/rewilding for details

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Chianti Classico Fonterutoli 2019, Mazzei

Chianti Classico Fonterutoli 2019, Mazzei

This week’s wine comes from Chianti Classico, the most famous wine region of Tuscany.

Supple and rounded with leather, spices and smooth rich dark fruits. The tannins are ripe and well-integrated. Medium-bodied, with a long finish. You could keep this a few years, but it is drinking very well now. 

Try it with meaty pasta dishes, roast red meats, or the local speciality, bistecca alla Fiorentina, t-bone steak grilled on the barbecue. 

I haven’t tasted my way through a comprehensive range of Chianti Classico for a few years, but there is a small group of very good wines that I drink regularly. All are from small estates, located in different parts of the region, and reflect their own terroir and house style. I see Isole e Olena as one of the most elegant, Fontodi richer and more full-bodied. Both great producers, but different wines.  I include Volpaia, Felsina, Monsanto, Querciabella, and Montevertine in this group, as well as the aforementioned Isole e Olena and Fontodi

As well as various, super-Tuscans, single vineyard and Riserva wines, most of these offer a ‘basic’ Chianti Classico that sells for somewhere between €20-35. To me, they offer the best value for money. I have been enjoying Fonterutoli for many years now; the style is quite modern with smooth concentrated ripe fruits. Fonterutoli is a large estate of 650 hectares, 110 of which are under vine. The Chianti Classico is made from seven different parcels of vines, and is 90% Sangiovese, the reminder Malvasia Nera and Colorino.

€28.95 from 64 Wines; SC Grocer , Monkstown; Sweeney’s D3; Grapevine, Dalkey; D-Six off licence, D6; Worldwide Wines , Waterford.

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El Hato y el Garabato ‘De Buena Jera’ 2018, Arribes

El Hato y el Garabato ‘De Buena Jera’ 2018, Arribes

Made from a blend of local grapes including Juan García, Bruñal, Rufete and Bastardo, this is a light, slightly pithy wine with mouth-watering crunchy ripe forest fruits, good acidity and finely etched tannins. I loved it and will certainly try it again. 

€27.75 from WineSpark.com 

I tasted a range of Spanish wines from online retailer WineSpark last week. It was an impressive line-up. I will cover more of the wines later, but today I feature one that I really enjoyed. I have to admit that I looked up Arribes on Google – it is a remote narrow region that follows the Duero River along the Portuguese border. Although vines have been grown here for centuries, it only received D.O. status in 2007. The main grape variety is Juan García and El Hato y el Garabato, set up by oenologist José Manuel Beneitez, who returned to his homeland with his wife Liliana Fernández. 

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Dão Branco 2021 Fonte do Ouro, Portugal

Dão Branco 2021 Fonte do Ouro, Portugal

Made from a blend of two of Encruzado and Arinto, two of the finest white grape varieties of Portugal, this wine offers exceptional value for money at €13.95. Fresh peach and pear fruits with a really well integrated mineral acidity. Perfect on its own but better with lighter seafood dishes. We enjoyed ours with clam linguini. 13% €13.95 down from €17.25 in O’Briens

I have always had a soft spot for both the red and white wines of Dão. The best reds are elegant, refreshing and subtle. The white wines can be equally good, with concentrated succulent fruits and a lively acidity. Typically based on excellent local Encruzado grape, they have been compared to Chardonnay in style and I can see why.

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