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So, looking for some wines to review for summer I ventured up to Total Wine, and that place is dangerous.  First, I love Dry Rosé Wine and think everyone should try it, so after this review I will be starting the first week of Rosé, in which I will be reviewing four Dry Rosés priced from $5.99 to $10.99.  Next up with be the week of Viognier where I will review a trio of Viogniers I’m very excited to try.  Finally, we will cap off June with searching for the perfect sweet wine for pairing with barbecue, with a variety of Sweet Rieslings and Gewurztraminers.  Of course, expect reviews of reds to be interspersed with all of these reviews; I can’t give up searching for my favorite.

Wine Being Reviewed: 2009 Grão Vasco Tinto, DO Dão


Pricing: $7.99 at Total Wine.


Grão Vasco Tinto

Reason for Purchase:  Portugal is well known for their Ports, but not as well for their dry red wines.  I’d love to be able to drink Bordeaux, Napa Cabs, and highly-rated Washington Reds all the time, but none of those are going to fall withing my price range.  In the past I’ve had some luck with the strategy of trying wines from regions that don’t have the cachet of the more well known regions, or wines that are atypical, or at least not highly associated with their regions.

This is a dry red wine from Portugal made from Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Jaen, Alfrocheiro, Tinta Pinheira, not well-known grapes across the world.  It was fermented in stainless steel and its acidity is at lower end for a red.

Review:  This wine has a ruby red appearance with just a tinge of purple in the glass.   The nose was complex and protean, alternating between a series of aromas, as it opens.  The wine gives off a musky scent that is fairly strong and could be too strong for some people.  The mustiness melds with black cherry, cloves, earthiness and hints of rosewater.  At times it would be very perfumey smelling like black cherries soaked in men’s cologne.  In fact, I accused the BF of wearing cologne and contaminating it when he sipped it, but I ended up verifying that he wasn’t wearing any.

The tannins were soft though still perhaps just a bit unripe.  A bit of poor-man’s decanting (pouring the wine back and forth between two glasses repeatedly) opened them up nicely.  It was light to medium bodied and maintained balance and structure all the way through the complex flavors while maintaining a soft juicy mouthfeel.  The palate opens with dark cherries playing against some wild mushroom and earth gradually softening into notes of more subtle dark fruit, leather and spice.  The finish was soft with a the fruit continuing and more floral notes popping out.

The second day the wine had lost most of it’s complexity with just a predominant dark fruit note and a lesser emphasis on the mustiness.  It went from being one of the best bargains I’ve had in a long time, to a wine that tasted it’s price.

Recommended Pairings: Avoid fatty foods, since this wine does not have the acidity for those.  A good quaffing wine, or pair with more balanced foods: sandwiches, light pasta dishes, basically everything I think of as a brunch food.

Bottom Line: 8/10  The complexity and perfuminess of this wine entranced me so much that it was very difficult for me to stop drinking, so I would have some to sample the next day in order to see how it developed  (Of course, the next day I regretted not drinking it all).  The lighter body with still lots of complex flavor made it a nice red wine to drink in the summer. The more European character, where fruit isn’t necessarily the predominant note will make this a slightly less desirable wine to those who strongly prefer the big fruit forward New World wines.

This wine does benefit from opening up, so decant on opening, but don’t plan on saving any, since it becomes significantly more bland the next day. I marked it down a bit for not having any possibility to develop.