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Two High Scoring, Striking and Beautiful Wines Under $14!

We've been fortunate lately to discover a fresh crop of striking and beautiful wines from Portugal. The appeal is immediate. When we tasted the Chocapalha line-up last month alongside the rest of winemaker Sandra Tavares's ventures we decided our "Wine of the Month 2" on the spot—and added white "Arinto" bottling as a companion, almost a "Wine of the Month 2.5." The wines are layered, aromatic, with balanced alcohols and enlivening acidity, but also show a depth of fruit that is immediately appealing. You probably won't recognize many of the grape varieties in these wines, but the discovery here is half the fun and the prices are amazing for the quality.

This ancient estate is nestled in the sun-drenched hills near Alenquer, just northwest of Lisbon. The Tavares da Silva family has nurtured the vineyards over the years, and today their youngest daughter, Sandra, is making some of the most exciting wines in Portugal. Sandra has built a name for herself as a modern and mindful winemaker in the Duoro Region.

An Extra, Lively White for Summer


It's easy to picture Lisbon as sunny and blessed with great beaches, but there is also quite a bit of wind and maritime coolness in the climate here that sharpens the aromatics and acidity. The Arinto grape is not known widely, but Sandra Tavares made something special and undeniable here. Look for scents of ripe yellow plum and summer stone fruits mixing with a citrusy core of ruby grape-fruit citrus, lemon, and kumquat in a mineral style. There is an electric zip to this wine that reminds us of Chablis or the best New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.

WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - "The 2016 Arinto, sourced from 30-year-old vines, is the latest in a brand that is one of my favorite overachievers from Chocapalha. It comes in at 12.5% alcohol. This is another fine one. It has excellent acidity but a bit more depth than the 2015, if not quite its laser burst of acidity. All unoaked, it is pure and fresh, with the ability to age. (Tasting the 2008 next to it proved that, by the way.) The acidity of this grape is always a preservative and it ages well in many regions. If you like them lighter in style and crispy, this is a great warm-weather choice at a bargain price."

$11.95 750ml [378609] CHOCAPALHA 2016 ARINTO BLANCO


Traditional Portuguese Red wines are rarely single-varietal bottlings, but instead are complex field blends—almost always 5-6 grapes at a minimum, but sometimes up to 25 or 30. Her Tinto is a luscious blend of Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional, Castelao, complimented by small amounts of Syrah, and Alicante Bouschet. The family employs the traditional concrete lagares for fermentation, extracting just the right amount of flavor and color. Aromas of violets, ginger and fine-spices, and serious red fruit by fresh are followed wild berry fruit and a fine-bead of minerality on the palate. The wine is serious enough to be paired with the most elevated meals or age beautifully, but it’s also fun enough for burgers on the barbeque this summer.

WINE SPECTATOR 90 POINTS - "Intense red berry and crushed red plum flavors are supported by fresh acidity and firm tannins. Touriga Nacional blend."

$13.95 750ml [378601] CHOCAPALHA 2012 TINTO