DFJ Vinhos Consensus Pinot Noir Touriga Nacional, Lisboa, Portugal 2016 (from £13.40, evingtons-wines.co.uk, millhillwines.com)
Of all the historic southern European wine countries, Portugal is still the one that gets the least attention in the UK. Walk into almost any bar or shop that sells wine and you’re pretty sure to find something from Italy and Spain. Portugal – the great fortified wines aside – not so much. But Portuguese wine has at least as much claim on our attention; in its vineyards, from the sun-baked olive groves and cork oak forests of the south to the relatively cool, green north, there is much variety. You can map the territory stylistically in the glass: start in the north’s Vinho Verde region in the north, nudging the border with Galicia’, with the briskest, crispest, spritiziest of white wines, Vila Nova Loureiro (from £9.30, cellarselected.com, woodwinters.com); then feel the warm south in the slickly concentrated black fruits of this pinot noir and touirga nacional blend from the Lisboa wine region.
Quinta Dos Roques Tinto, Dão, Portugal 2016 (from £13.95, buonvino.co.uk, oxfordwine.co.uk, theatreofwine.com)
A big part of Portuguese wine’s appeal is its collection of around 300 native grape varieties. Occasionally (as in the Consensus mix of the world-famous pinot noir and Portugal’s most important red grape, touriga nacional) they’re blended with something more familiar and international – a marketing ploy to attract the kind of fretful wine drinker who will only ever buy something they’ve seen or heard of before. As likely as not, however, the best wines will be made exclusively from different local varieties, such as two beauties from the centre of the country: Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco 2018 (£16.95, vincognito.co.uk), from the Atlantic-influenced Bairrada region mixes bical, sercial and sercialinho for a dry white that marries pithiness, peachiness and mineral cut and thrust; Quinta dos Roques Tinto from Dão, a little further north, is a herb and violet-flecked red blend of touriga nacional, jaen and alfrocheiro that is concentrated yet charged with freshness.
Niepoort Voyeur Vinho Tinto de Anfora, Douro, Portugal 2018 (from £23.95, dorsetwine.co.uk; noblegreenwines.co.uk)
The multiple-varietal blend is also at the heart of all the various styles of wine made in Portugal’s best-known wine region, the Douro, where the steep terraced vineyards run down to the banks of the Douro River as it meanders down towards Porto. This is the home of port first and foremost, but most of the big-name port shippers now make red wine, too, and there’s a small but growing bunch of intriguing white wines – of which the exotically scented, citrussy fresh Lavradores de Feitoria Estrada Douro White (£8, Co-op) is a good, inexpensive example. My pick of recently tasted reds from the region is the latest release from arguably its most influential and experimental winemaker, Dirk Niepoort. Voyeur is not your usual Douro red, swapping as it does deep, dark fruit, power and toasty oak barrels for clay amphorae and a lighter, more graceful style, full of just-picked, just-ripe red berries and subtle forest-floor earthiness.