In looking through the overall wine list, it’s heavy on domestic, Napa Valley, options. Nothing against California because I’ve obviously enjoyed plenty of its wine, but there are a lot of other places out there making wine, and lots of places that have been making wine much longer than they’ve been doing it in California. So on our latest trip to pick wine, I challenged myself to only buy international imports.
This isn’t, obviously, hard to do. Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, France, Argentina, and Germany all have their own separate sections in our local wine store. Having travelled in Europe, we even have some regional favorites that we can circle back to when we want that taste of vacation back. There was one bottle, however, that we had no experience with whatsoever, but was such a good deal (over 50% marked off suggest retail) we couldn’t pass it up. Also, doing a little research into the wine once we got it home, I learned that while currently ranked 91 points by Wine Enthusiast, it’s actually expected that this wine is best aged, and will peak in 2020. Thus, your wine for your weekend is Pocas Vale de Cavalos 2016 (Douro).
Vale de Cavalos is a Portugese wine, making it unique to the wine list as the only other Portugese wine on the list is an actual Port. This wine decanted for about an hour before we enjoyed it, and the first thing to note about it straight out of the bottle is the color. This wine is dark. The deep purple color is intense and bold hinting at its rich, deep flavor.
The bottle description suggested a medium bodied red with light oakiness and high acidity. Decanting may have contributed to smoothing out some of these flavors. There was a nice acidic bite on the finish that balanced the lush fruitiness on the front side. And in truth, I didn’t even pick up a hint of oak.
We paired the wine with lasagna, a much more traditional Italian pairing than Portuguese. But red wine and pasta just kind of ask for each other sometimes! I’d expect the wine to pair well with grilled meats and, given the cheesiness of our pasta, I can attest to it’s compatibility with creamy cheeses (though I wouldn’t recommend anything to sharp as the acidity of the wine may clash.)
We managed to find this wine for $12, well under the $30 suggested retail. It looks like a more common price point around town is about $20, so if you see it under that, it’s worth snagging as a good deal, and adding a little international flair to your next dinner party! We worked our way through the whole bottle over the course of an evening with no red wine regrets. You won’t regret giving this wine a shot either!