Wine trade folklore often recounts the James Martin and Porta 6 story.
A ringing endorsement by the chef on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen created so much demand that it crashed its retailer’s (Majestic) computer system.
Other factors have also given the brand a tailwind.
First, it is Portuguese – one of the current top three wine producing countries for value for money.
Secondly, it has that yellow tram on the label; few visitors to Lisbon are not familiar with (and entranced by) those old trams.
Even better, that picture is from an enigmatic painter (Germany’s Hauke Vagt) regarded by many as eccentric and reclusive – and, sometimes, both.
In another (very rare) testament to the success of the wine itself, it is listed by no fewer than six top UK retailers (usually at around £7.50).
It is made by Vidigal, a company founded about 20 years ago and based at the northern end of the long, narrow, Lisboa wine region.
Initially Porta 6 used just grapes from that region but Vidigal has dived into other regions now – especially for its newly introduced white and rosé wines.
I report on several of its offerings below and find that they all reach the good standard their trailblazer attained.
The images and hyperlinks provided should help you to find them in crowded displays.
Starting with the original
2021 Porta 6 Red Wine (from £6.99 at several mainstream retailers and 13.5% abv):
Perhaps one reason for the success of this wine is the skilfully used 40% contribution of Portugal’s castelão (periquita) grape.
Unusually, only 10% of the blend is from what is normally the first name on the team sheet – touriga nacional.
The remaining 50% is aragonez (tempranillo) but, despite that variety’s love affair with oak, none seems to be used for this wine.
Smooth yet full, the wine delivers dense damson, sour cherry and strawberry flavours combined with firm acidity, but limited tannin, and suggestions of chocolate and baking spice with a contrasting twist of graphite.
Moving up a rung
2019 Porta 6 Reserva (from £8.99 at Majestic and 14%):
This is a step up from the basic version doubling touriga nacional’s involvement (while adding syrah, cabernet and alicante bouschet to the mix) and aging the resulting wine rather longer.
It is sourced from handpicked grapes from the best parcels within the vineyards and the result is a Majestic exclusive that fully justifies the £2-£3 price premium over its younger sibling.
Smoky and intense, the wine brings us floral damson, black cherry and cranberry sauce flavours supported by good acidity and firm tannin plus hints of slate minerality, clove and black pepper.
Next a change of colour
2021 Porta 6 Vinho Verde (from £7.99 at Majestic and 9.5%):
While the red range works perfectly as a substantial winter wine, Vidigal obviously felt that they needed a summer equivalent – where lighter, fresher options were needed – so where better to go than Vinho Verde.
One result of heading to that more northerly region, this brand’s white wine is a lively, low alcohol blend containing a 30% slice of the impressive arinto grape.
There are also slightly bigger contributions from the rather more mundane (but pleasantly aromatic) loureiro, and that grape’s regular partner trajadura (known as treixadura elsewhere).
Light and zesty, the result has apple and tropical fruit flavours accompanied by a crisp grapefruit prickle of acidity and a finish reminiscent of those green Opal Fruit sweeties.
And another switch of colour
2021 Porta 6 Rosé (£7.50 at Sainsbury’s and 10.5%):
But, of course, no summer wine collection is complete without a rosé and, adhering to the current trend, it needed to be – and is – a pale pink version.
Its constituents include the two main grapes from the original version but the third element this time is syrah – although, obviously, skin contact is minimal.
In addition, the result also keeps its alcohol at a “sunny afternoon, garden sipping” low level (10.5% in this case).
Bright with herbal aromas, the wine features light bodied raspberry, strawberry and crab apple flavours with pink grapefruit acidity, a savoury herb finish and just a dash of sweetness.
My next post (on Monday) contains terrific recommendations of great, affordable wines for you in the weekly Top Tips feature – with a Valentine suggestion too.
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