Cellar notes #44: Portuguese gold

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Indy Lifestyle Online

First the good news: the scorching 2003 vintage produced some of Portugal's best ever reds. Now the not so good news, the wines are only just beginning to trickle on to the market with the top wines only becoming available in the autumn.

Meanwhile, there are a handful of 2003s worth exploring for summer drinking. The 2003 Quinta da Setencostas from Casa Santos Lima, £5.99, Sainsbury's, is a zingy blend of Portuguese varieties brimming with raspberry and cherryish, summer-pudding fruitiness. And the 2003 Tesco Finest Touriga Nacional, £5.99, punches above its weight, giving a glimpse of this fine grape's juicy pluminess at an affordable price.

Now also is a good time to take advantage of the very approachable 2001 Chaminé Cortes de Cima, Alentejo, £6.99, Majestic, Oddbins. For extra depth and compexity, the fine 2001 Esporão Reserva combines loganberry-like fruitiness with spicy oak and perky acidity in a distinctive blend of cabernet sauvignon with native varieties - a tenner or thereabouts from Portland Wine, Manchester (0161 962 8752), Wright Wine Co., Skipton (01756 700886), Berry Bros & Rudd (0870 900 4300) and Irvine Robertson, Edinburgh (0131 553 3521).

Finally, Oxford city-dwellers and Wine Society members should not allow summer to pass without taking the 2003 Quinta do Azevedo on board, £4.95, Stevens Garnier, Oxford (01865 263303), The Wine Society (01438 740222). This sprightly Vinho Verde prances on the tongue and slips down before you can say José Mourinho.

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