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Portugal’s Dry Red Charm

2009 Post Scriptum is ElinMcCoy's Wine of the Week

2009 Post Scriptum is ElinMcCoy's Wine of the Week

One of the most promising spots these days for delicious, well-priced wines is Portugal’s Douro Valley, famous for rich, sweet, fortified Port. The plummy, lush-textured 2009 P + S Post Scriptum is a terrific example of the new dry reds being made from traditional Portuguese varieties growing on the steep slopes above the Douro River. This new release has exotic aromas of violets and Earl Grey tea, delicious dark berry and chocolaty notes, and the balance you find in a plump, smoothly fruity Bordeaux.

The combination of Bordeaux grace and exotic Portuguese flavors is hardly surprising. P + S stands for Prats + Symington, a joint wine project between the Symington family of Port fame and Bruno Prats, former owner of Bordeaux’s Château Cos d’Estournel. The partners began experimenting in 1999, launched their grand wine Chryseia in 2001, and less expensive Post Scriptum followed in 2002.

The winery, Quinta de Roriz, is one of the most beautiful along the winding river, though the narrow, rocky, vertigo-inducing dirt road down to it had me silently praying that my car wouldn’t crash when I visited a couple of years ago.

The main grape in the Post Scriptum blend is Touriga Nacional, the star component in traditional Port. Increasingly, though, it’s being used on its own to make dry reds — the Portuguese are trying to market it as the country’s “national” grape. With a handful of exceptions, I think that’s a mistake. The 2009 Post Scriptum gains complexity and freshness with the addition of three other grape varieties.

The 2009 vintage was a challenging one, with lower than usual rainfall, storms in the spring and a very hot summer. A combination of careful grape sorting, gentle maceration and not too much oak give it a ready-to-drink smoothness, yet it has enough heft and flavor to go perfectly with the steaks we grilled on the deck, served with peppery shallot sauce.