Wbw_portugal Welcome to Wine Blogging Wednesday #38 hosted by Ryan and Gabriella of Catavino. The theme, as one would expect when the blog for Iberian wines is playing host, focuses on that region. More specifically, Ryan and Gabriella asked participants to choose a table wine from Portugal. Port and Madeira are off limits and they also challenged us to come up with something more interesting than Vinho Verde or  Douro reds.

I have only tried a handful of Portuguese reds in my three or four years of serious wine drinking. All were okay, but nothing really grabbed me and said "pay attention, Lenn." Of course, that could be largely due to the fact that most of the wine shops within a 10-mile radius aren’t that great and don’t have great selections from lesser-known regions. Meaning that if it’s not from France, Italy or California, you’re out of luck.

But, with a little searching, I was able to come up with one wine that fit all of Ryan and Gabriella’s caveats: Casa de Santar Dao Reserva 1999. I paid $24 for it.

I was planning to spend part of my morning researching this wine and the producer, so that I could offer some background. But, as I checked in with our hosts, I noticed that they tasted several wines from the same very producer, and they did all that leg work for me. Read more about Casa de Santar.

Now on to the wine itself, which we enjoyed with flank steak that I braised with homemade red wine vinegar, red wine, cumin, oregano, onions, peppers, olives and bay.

Medium garnet in the glass, the nose is earthy with dark cherry, some charred cedar and hints of dusty cocoa. On there’s more some dark fruit — cherries and blackberries — with just a little vanilla and lots of earthy spice. Silky but with a slightly rustic edge (acidity) it was good by itself, but really worked well with food. The tannins were soft and dusty and only really noticeable on the earthy finish. Nena really enjoyed it and so did my parents, who were taking part in their very first WBW.

Overall, I enjoyed this wine, especially with food, and I wish I could get my hands on some younger vintages of this same wine. This is a wine that makes me want to explore Portuguese wines more.

If only I had a wine shop nearby that would enable such exploration.