Earlier this week, Wine of Tejo set up a tasting in Barcelona Wine Bar (525 Tremont St, South End) to share their wines with the Boston food writer community. Tejo is the name of a river in Portugal that extends to Spain, and is home to many wineries including the 80 that Wines of Tejo represent. The river allows for variance in soil composition, and a temperate climate throughout the summer and extends the growing season.
Our hosts invited us into the room where the stage, well place settings, had been set to bring in our lunch and wine pairing. The setting, was set for 8 wines to give us an overview of the taste of the region. And although the multiple glasses created a beautiful table, it caused it to be a over cramped which gave a new meaning to family dining.
There was a bit of confusion over the first flight as to which wine was which, but what stood out for me the most were the white wines.
In the first flight, it was the Casa Cadaval 2014 Padre Pedro Branco which was a very bright wine that had nice floral notes, but was not syrupy or heavy. This wine was a combination of native grapes including Trincadiera, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Aragonês.
My favorite of the flight, though, was the Quinta Valede Fornos 2014 Vale de Fornos Branco. In this wine, I tasted more green apple notes, as my dining companion Leah Klein of Leah’s Life said, “this wine has a longer story than the others” which I really agreed with. This variety was 100% Arinto, one of the few wines presented that were not blended with other grapes.
In between sips we got to sample some of Barcelona’s fare. The first course was a radish, mint and feta salad, which was very good and fitting for the season. My dining companions came with scallops. It paired very well with the first wines:
In between the tastings we learned more about the region and the processing of the wines. Portugal is one of the few wineries that still practice the traditional food-treading – meaning that actual feet crush the grapes. Don’t worry, they are soaked down in some sort of chemical that ensures no bacteria gets into the wines. Portugal is also has one of the highest production of natural cork in the world, so most of their wines are still corked rather than using plastic or other sorts of sealants.
The second flight consisted of some red wines which were more on the Cabernet side, and had a lot of pepper and spicy bite to them. My two favorites of this flight were the Quinta do Casal Monteiro 2011 Fora de Arte Tinto (white) and the Quinta S. João Batista 2011 QSJB Syrah. The Quinta do Casal Montiero is 50% Fenao Pires and 50% Arinto, so I think I’ve found another grape that I enjoy. The Syrah was 100% Syrah so that wasn’t a big surprise that I would like its deep berry flavor.
As we were moving from whites to red, the food made a transition as well. We had a traditional Spanish dish of Tortilla Española. This wasn’t my favorite dish as I felt it needed much more salt and the olive oil did not taste Spanish nor did I taste any onions; two elements I believe are key to making a perfect tortilla.
We also were treated to a surprise course of grilled cheese – mine is pictured without the cured bacon.
For the main course, diners received steak with garbanzo beans and sauteed spinach. I got the garbanzo beans and they were – meh. Again it didn’t have a lot of flavor and was actually pretty cold! To be fair, steak was a perfect pairing for the reds as they spiciness of them would have added to the succulence of the meat. To complete the meal, we ended with a cookie with a salted top and Nutella filling that was soft, buttery and moist.
All the wines that were presented were reasonably priced under $20.00, and I think would reasonably fit in the wine culture landscape of Boston especially the whites since the area produces so much seafood and lighter dishes in the summer. The wines are being shopped in the area, so look out for them in a restaurant or wine shop near you.