20060301

Semana português continua/Portuguese week rolls on

Prazo de Roriz Douro 2003 portuguese red
The minimalist design on the label of the Prazo de Roriz Douro 2003 mentions in tiny tiny print a parcel of land -- Quinta de Roriz, or the Roriz Estate, if you were to translate it to English. This lauded vineyard, which, by the way, produced the wine that went on to take the Number 55 spot on Wine Spectator's Top 100 this year, is actually connected to the cuvée presented yesterday: Like the Altano from Douro, the Prado de Roriz is another feather in the cap of the prestigious Symington Family, who have been producing port in the region for more than a century.

We bought the Prazo de Roriz, a winner of a blend, in Niagara over Christmas. Back then it was about $15. In Quebec, the SAQ never stocked it and doing a quick search on the current stock shows that there are only three left at the LCBO (just click on the image above for more). I am surprised to find that it is priced to clear at $11.95. What a deal!

I do suspect the praise this Prado de Roriz got from the annual Wine Spectator listing is directly related to its fruity and vital "drink me now" style. One reason to drink now is its lack of tannins -- not so much a deficiency as an important and unique quality of this wine. That quality also likely the reason why one of 2005's celebrated wines is now found marked down in price.

This wine went way too round and flat after I neglected putting the leftover mini-bottle of wine in the fridge. Thinking the wine would become more harmonious and attractive after recorking it turned out to be my mistake. The storage technique may have something to due with this -- it was the first time I deviated from chilling the leftovers -- but I suspect that it has something to do with the wine too. After two days time, I had stripped this beauty of its natural charms and I think it was because I had virtually induced a three-year-process of ageing, simply through encouraging air to affect to the recorked wine. Three years is not at all something that this wine needs or wants. Even though I had expected any vintage from hot and sweltering 2003 to shoulder the weight of time (my "lucky leftover" rule for 2003 had never failed me), the Prado de Roriz, despite its full and strong character, was simply not made for it. Drink now, drink now!

For some pairing ideas, I can say that I had it with the same thing both nights -- a pork loin roast with mushrooms, green peppers and oregano in a maple-mustard reduction sauce. In the past, I've had it with a savoury fish fillet in a pungent brown butter sauce. Tannins are light so both ideas work. Heavy, gamey meats might be the only selection that would let you down.

My tasting notes: Complex nose, with a sharp tanginess right out of the bottle. Almost seemed to be searching for balance (hello tannins?) but with such intriguing complexity and matter to the wine, as well as a lovely finish, the wine was nearly as charming as my intial sampling of it over the Christmas holidays. Darker fruit than most Portuguese on the palate. Hints of licorice and fat. Definitely not of the same calibre of most under $15 reds.

São João da Pesqueira, Portugal. 13.5%.

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