2019 Quinta de São Sebastião Forte do Cego Vinho Regional Lisboa

I’ve quietly despaired over the quality of Dan Murphy’s Portuguese direct imports which have largely been from one industrial scale producer. Shame, as Portugal has a wealth of indigenous varieties often turned into great value bottles of real interest. This had just appeared on the shelves as I made my weekly pilgrimage to the local duopoly booze provider. So recent it hadn’t been price stickered. A look at the back label confirmed it’s not from the usual avoided producer and despite containing Shiraz it does have the much underrated Castelão and stalwart Touriga Nacional within. It seems the extremely tough Castelão is perhaps the most widely planted variety in Portugal and almost out machos Touriga in its ability to thrive in poor soil and relentless dry heat. Like a Mourinho back four one nil up with an hour to go. Delighted to find the experiment was only going to cost $8 when I arrived at the checkout. Furthermore it seems our supermarket paradigm shifter in the form of Aldi, hooray for some competition, also imports from the very big Quinta de S. Sebastião conglomerate. Visions of huge stainless steel tank farms. Anyway a lot of words for a simple bottle. Cracking the screw cap, things were reticent to say the least but with time and air some ripe sweet red fruit emerged on a lift of spice, violets and strawberries. Perhaps so fruit sweet it seemed like a bit of residual sugar lurked but it did settle to a more savoury whole. Good shape in the mouth too, that robust freshness and grip I remember from Castelão and a lick of grainy tannin. Enjoyed it a lot more than the oaky, green and lean Gimblett Gravels Kiwi blend which cost four times as much. As things hot up, these tough old Portuguese grapes look a viable alternative to throwing precious water on uncomfortable French grapes struggling to gain flavour in forty degrees. You don’t need to be a member of Mensa to realise wine prices don’t always equate to authenticity or quality.

13% alcohol. Screw cap. $8.

89 points.

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Everyday events struggle to share space with wine thoughts in an ever shrinking brain.

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