quinta do crastoIf you like good wine at good prices (who doesn’t?) and you’re not drinking Portuguese still wines, you’re missing out. The reds, especially from the Douro, tend to be dark and savory  with powerful yet finely etched tannins—not at all port-like. Even the less expensive examples are a medley of freshness, toughness and finesse. Because port is the Douro’s main product their red wines have been overlooked, but increasingly wineries are dedicating vineyards and facility space to making soul-stirring red wines.

Quinto do Crasto is one of the pioneers of Douro reds, although they are also well known for their fine port as well. This bottling made from primarily Touriga Nacional is an exceptional example.

Heady aromas of ripe blackberry,  vanilla, and baking spice with a background of loamy earth swirl out of the glass. On the palate the juicy fruit up front gives way to a leathery, rich,  midpalate before the firm but polished tannins take over supporting the long spicy finish. Plush but sturdy the air of paradox graces this wine

The Douro Superior region at the East end of the Douro near Spain is a harsh, forbidding land of dry,  steep, schist-laden river banks that bake in the hot summer sun. It’s a marvelous wonder that such adversity yields such succulence.

Score: 92

Price: $25

Alc: 14.5%

Tough and tender like a young Springsteen belting out Thunder Road (I do miss Clarence)