What To Drink Now: Old World Red Wine

In continuing with suggestions for Old World wines, or selections from throughout Europe like Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Greece and Portugal, here are several red wine options to consider. A few selections were sent for editorial consideration.

There has been a lot of buzz around dry, non-fortified wine from Portugal these days making the land known best for creating lush and lovely Port and Tawny the favorite for red drinkers seeking full bodied, interesting wines, many made from the key grapes used for making Port.  Over dinner the other evening at The Grape I enjoyed a bottle of 2007 Post Scriptum de Chryseia from the Douro region of Portugal.  Made from 40% Tinta Roriz, 35% Touriga Franca, and 20% Tinta Barroca, three of the six main grapes used for making port the wine is black fruit driven with pronounced flavors of cherry, blackberry and plum. Balanced, dry and supple with notes of vanilla and cedar with an earthy finish.  

I have also recently had another wine from Chryseia, the Prazo de Roriz, a fresh and vibrant blend of Tinta Barroca – 36%, Tinta Roriz – 31%, Tinta Francisca – 10%, Touriga Nacional – 9%, Touriga Franca – 9%, and a touch of others, using pretty much every grape used to make Port.  Aged for 7 months, instead of 9 like the Post Scriptum, freshness and fruit define this wine.  Raspberry, strawberry and red cherry fill the palate after each sip and finishing with hints of sweet baking spice.

Though many Old World wines can be confusing, one region that is usually pretty well understood are the wines from Montalcino, simply because they are beautiful and year in, year out usually deliver on both elegance and intensity.  Castelgiocondo 2007 Brunello di Montalcino 100% Sangiovese from Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi.  A hearty, bold and complex wine filled with aromas of wild flowers and violets lingering beside notes of ripe black and blueberry. Flavors of blackberry, black cherry and black pepper leap from the glass followed by leather and tobacco with incredible structure, common characteristics found in good Montalcino Sangiovese.  A beautiful wine now, especially paired with a juicy roast or grilled steak, but will benefit from a few more years of aging, making this a great idea for Father’s Day gifting.

I had a chance to recently try a 2003 Chateau Pavie Saint-Emillion Grand Cru, which a friend decanted at noon for our 8pm dinner, tasting it every so often as the day progressed to see how the wine might change with a little time to breath.  Deep crimson almost black colored with equally ripe black fruit flavors.  Intense notes of blackberry, black cherry and jam with toasted almond, toffee and coffee aromas, followed by flavors of cherry, licorice and chocolate with chalky minerality, a nod to the terroir.  A wine that can easily define Old World with layers of complexity, structure and character.

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