Food lets us travel. From China to Vietnam, from India through Turkey and into Hungary, from Germany To France (with a detour through Italy), when we eat certain foods we know where we are. Or where we wish to be. It's no accident, either. The foods we most often associate with place are those foods that can be grown easily and are (or were) plentiful.
So it is with wine. The French call it terroir. They claim even subtle differences in micro-climate from one appellation to another will show themselves in the wine's character. I'd have to see some kind of spectrum chromatograph before I'd go that far, but I will agree that wines from different regions can be quite different. Australian and American wines, for instance, tend to be different than French or Italian wines. Often, European wines exhibit more mineral characteristics than their new-world counterparts. The new-world wines, from the United States, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand tend to be bolder and more fruit-forward (Chile, I'm happy to say, seems to be a notable exception. Even in the country's value-priced wines, there seems to be a complexity and structure not found in many other new-world wines at low price points).
Knowing all this, it was no surprise that I had to buy my latest find from Dorn’s, a 2005 Ensaios FP Tinto from the Beiras region in Portugal. I love Spanish wines, and while I’m not overly familiar with Portuguese wines, I assumed they would have some of the same bold structure and lively tannins as their Spanish counterparts. I wasn’t worng.
Color: A deep, inky red, nearly purple/indigo fading to ruby at the edges.
Nose: A highly complex mix of dark berries and spice with a hint of star anis.
Palate: This Is a bold wine, with strong structure and tannins. Slight berry flavors, but it’s not the kind of wine that you have while sitting around a coffee table with a few friends. This is a wine made for food.
Finish: Crisp finish. Very clean and drying. The perfect accompaniment for heavier foods ranging from braised ribs (my meal with the wine) to roast duck, and even pastas with rich, rich sauces.
I loved this wine. For quite a while now I’ve been drinking American and Australian wines, and while I’ve enjoyed them, I really missed the flinty, mineral characteristics of European wines. The Ensaios FP Tinto delivered, and the travel-inspired label didn’t hurt, either.