Wine: Tuella Duoro Vinho Tinto
Grape: Touriga Francesa (50 percent), Tinta Barroca (30 percent), Tinto Cao (20 percent)
Region: Duoro Valley, Portugal
Price: $6.99 per bottle.
Availability: Trader Joe’s
In the glass: This Tuella wine is a dark ruby color with a semiopaque core going out into a fine pinkish-red rim definition with medium-high viscosity.
On the nose: This is a wine that comes out of the glass with a plethora of interesting perfumed red fruit laced with spice basket and dominated by crushed red currants, red beet juice, pomegranate seeds, allspice and coriander seeds, as well as hints of tobacco leaf and warm minerals.
On the palate: The wine immediately asserts itself with powerful acidity that intermingles with the red fruit crush, red currants, red plum skins, strawberry sauce without the sweetness, spice phenolics and spice melange going into the mid-palate that has yet more red fruit medley, a fine delineation and structure and nicely lingering finish. It’s a bright, sturdy and medium-bodied drinking experience; just fine altogether.
Odds and ends: I have to confess that it is not often I get to taste the tremendously delicious still red wines that are made in Portugal nowadays. It is especially the wines from the famous Duoro Valley, which is also home to some of the biggest port producing houses and their vineyards that now make amazing wines from the very same grape varieties used for the production of those legendary port wines. Grapes like Touriga Francesa, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Barroca are but some of the ones used for long-lived port wines, and here with this much less elaborate wine, we find them also employed, not for longevity reasons, but simply because they make damn fine red wine, ready to drink and enjoy in the short term. The Symington family is nothing short of port royalty with hands in some of the finest brands in Porto, like Warre, Dow, Graham and many other historical Port houses, and yet they engage in the production of fine little wines like this Tuella, simply because they can. They obviously know everything about making great wines from these grapes, and I think perhaps borne out of a relatively strong home market in Portugal, it was decided that one might as well make something for everyday drinking pleasure and wines like Tuella and many others were made. One of my favorite wines made by the Symington family is one made in partnership with the Prats family — formerly of Cos D’Estournel fame — called P &S Chryseia. In case you ever find it, buy it. In the meantime, this Tuella provides ample summer drinking pleasure with burgers on the grill. Drink now through 2016.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.