Silk and Spice Red Blend 2017
Pair with pork chops, beef stew, beef stroganoff, lasagna, and comparable dishes served with tomato-based or barbeque sauces.
Silk and Spice is a testament to Portugal; and with its quite literal 'silky and spicy' taste profile, it is a celebration of Portugal’s capacity for silky, exotic wines with deep, rich layers and intense berry-fruit flavors.
The route from Europe to the Indian Ocean – known as the "Silk & Spice Route" – was pioneered by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1498. Flavors like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and pepper changed world cuisine, while silk from China became prized for its luxurious touch.
An original XV century map on the label shows the Bay of Bengal, separating South and Southeast Asia; the Portuguese coat of arms, a historical graphical element dating to 1248; and two caravels, a small, highly maneuverable boat developed by the Portuguese in the 15th century solely to explore the West African coast and arrive at the Indian Ocean.
Best known for intense, impressive and age-worthy fortified wines, Portugal relies almost exclusively on its many indigenous grape varieties. Bordering Spain to its north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean on its west and south coasts, this is a land where tradition reigns supreme, due to its relative geographical and, for much of the 20th century, political isolation. A long and narrow but small country, Portugal claims considerable diversity in climate and wine styles, with milder weather in the north and significantly more rainfall near the coast.
While Port (named after its city of Oporto on the Atlantic Coast at the end of the Douro Valley), made Portugal famous, Portugal is also an excellent source of dry red and white wines of various styles.
The Duoro Valley produces full-bodied and concentrated dry red wines made from the same set of grape varieties used for Port, which include Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Spain’s Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão, among a long list of others in minor proportions.
Other dry wines include the tart, slightly effervescent Vinho Verde white wine, made in the north, and the bright, elegant reds and whites of the Dão as well as the bold, and fruit-driven reds and whites of the southern, Alentejo.
The nation’s other important fortified wine, Madeira, is produced on the eponymous island off the North African coast.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.