Local Plonks: Affordable Wine Worth or Not Worth Your Dime at the NLC

This month's Local Plonks feature explores some affordable wines from Portugal.

HERDADE DO ESPORÃO DUAS CASTAS “2” 
Find it in the Portugal Section: $19.29

In the ancient past, before the harbour fence, it was possible to go aboard the Portuguese fishing vessels, then allowed to dock here, and buy cheap cigarettes. “SG” was a good brand. Often you’d be invited to stay for a drink of wine or brandy. It was “rustic” stuff, to be kind.

Things have changed. St. John’s City Council bet it all on offshore oil and cruise ships and we lost. Portuguese winemaking has modernized.

Both grapes in the Herdade Do Esporão Duas Castas “2” (NLC $19.29) are native to the Iberian Peninsula. 70% of the mix is Gouveio (Godello in Spain), which lends the wine a buttery apple tart character. The other grape, Antão Vaz, at 30%, might be indigenous to Portugal’s scorching, dry Alentejo region, and contributes tropical fruit flavours and solid acidity.

The struggle making white wines in such hot places is not letting them get overripe and flabby. This maker has done an excellent job of it. They can’t quite coax elegance out of these grapes but there is a lot of interest here, a dominant note of citrus pith, a smoky thing, minerals, and some funk.

I taste thick skins, not sure of which variety, yet it’s still crisp. Too much for delicate seafood, but stands up to heavily seasoned or smoked fish. Would kill with kedgeree or tandoori salmon (easy dishes, by the way). Wonderful that it’s not trying to be something other than what it is. Somewhat exotic. Her occasional blowsiness is part of her allure. Have to try it at this price.

ASSOBIO QUINTA DOS MURCAS
Find it in the Portugal section: $18.07

The Duoro is Port country. Declining numbers of old white guys wanting cigars after dinner have limited the appetite for that fortified delight. The growers are instead trying to make table wine from their various Touriga grapes.

The Assobio Quinta Dos Murcas (NLC $18.07) is one such example and an interesting case of the perils of points. There was a rush on this plonk when the Wine Enthusiast Magazine awarded it “94” arbitrary units of some sort. Don’t think, in this case, you are getting more than what you are paying for.

It smells like port and the palate says it wants to be port. Unaccountably, there is a green character here one associates with unripe Cabernet Franc. It’s astringent, tannic. Mostly it’s empty. There is nothing particularly wrong, but nothing to wow you. Ranks as “not bad I s’pose.” Save up and buy a bottle of Vintage Port.

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1 Comment

  • Just thought I’d chime in and mention that the Duas Castas is available by the glass at the Vinyl Room and Reluctant Chef, 3oz or 5oz. Loved the article as always.

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