Portuguese Wine – Paxis 2013 Red Blend
When we think about Portuguese wine, it is fair to say that most of us can identify Port as their premier style of fortified, but beyond that, draw a blank. The Country has developed a reputation across the globe for the quality of the cork it produces as a seal for wine vessels, but I for one would struggle to name a varietal or style that the County is considered to be synonymous with.
And it’s not as if the Portuguese wine industry doesn’t have history on its side. There is evidence of winemaking on the Iberian Peninsula as far back as 2000BC and subsequent visitors and conquistadors have supplemented the industry and the local winemaking craft of the centuries. The Phoenicians brought their vines and oenological expertise in the 10th Century BC, and late, so too did the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Through the 17th and 18th Centuries, some of the tiffs between the British and French resulted in the import of French wines into Britain being banned or restricted and that created a vacuum which the Portuguese winemakers were only too happy to fill. The Portuguese Madeira and Port styles resonated with the palates of British drinkers and for a time became the staple of English wine consumption.
But it was the fortified Ports of the Duoro Region which put Portugal on the oenological map. The fortification process during fermentation (rather than after it as had otherwise been the practice) produced a highly alcoholic wine which enjoyed high levels of residual sugar, giving it a hint of sweetness and a roundness to its mouthfeel.
Like most of Europe, the phylloxera louse destroyed the Country’s vineyards in the late 19th Century and the wine industry struggled to recover. These days, Portuguese winemakers tend to use indigenous varietals and it’s the regions such as Vinho Verde and Alentejo which enjoy the highest profiles with international consumers, though the Port producers of the Douro region are still successfully plying their trade.
Paxis 2013 Red Blend
Recently, I called into the Buderim Liquorland one wet Saturday afternoon to restock on Tanqueray, only to be talked into a taste of Portuguese wine, DFJ Vinhos “Paxis” 2013 that the store manager, Mark was keen to promote. Despite the offensive taint of the small disposable tasting cups the Paxis was offered in, it was surprisingly palatable. This blend of Portuguese Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) was bright and light in colour and displayed a vivacity in the plastic cup that was matched by the exuberance of the jubey fruits that collided on the palate. There was little I could do but buy a bottle to enjoy with my Saturday evening BBQ, but at the $12 price tag, it was a no brainer! Interestingly, when served in Riedel glassware, the Paxis displays concentrated violet and raspberry characters on the mid palate that are nicely complemented by gentle acids in the middle and some chewy tannins on the finish. I won’t pretend it’s a collectable of the future, but for a cheap and cheery blend, it washes down a charred eye fillet just nicely – as I’m sure it would with the signature dish of Porto, Francesinha; with or without the chorizo.