I FELT a little mean disrupting the perfect, uniformed, stand-to-attention display of Portuguese wines in Wavertree’s Co-op store – but it was worthwhile.
The Two Ravens brand is just about half price until October 30 and if you want an easy-drinking evening with friends – be it red, white, or rosé – then give them a try.
Two Ravens (all reduced in Co-operative stores to £4.49 from £8.99) are made under the umbrella of DFJ Vinhos wines and winemaker José Neiva Correia, one of the company founders.
The firm produces about six million bottles across about 33 brands from all Portuguese regions, aimed primarily for export.
So mass-production; yes you could say it is. And certainly Two Ravens carries the Vinho Regional designation– the third level in the Portuguese quality hierarchy – a connotation similar to French vin de pays.
The Two Ravens selection adds a little twist. All three wines are blends of classic, international grapes with traditional Portuguese grape varieties.
The grapes are sourced from the Lisboa wine region and come from vineyards on hills just a few miles north of Lisbon. (The two ravens are a symbol of Lisbon and are on the city’s coat of arms.)
Lisboa has lots of sunshine but the refreshing Atlantic sea breezes keep things cool; this means that the grapes ripen slowly and evenly producing perfectly balanced and very complex wines.
Two Ravens Chardonnay Fernao Pires 2011. On the nose this is green apple and fresh citrus. But to taste it is a juicy twist of dry apples and melons with a sprinkling of vanilla. The addition of the local fernao pires grape creates a wine to consider, not to gulp.
Two Ravens Cabernet Sauvignon Touriga 2011 is a dark ruby and a blend of cabernet sauvignon and touriga nacional, a grape traditionally found in port. It is rich, fruity and spicy with some woody notes. Later I found that with a homemade chilli it raised its game, releasing hints of bitter chocolate and cinnamon from somewhere in its sensory armoury.
Two Ravens Shiraz Castelao Rosé 2011 is one for the girlies and the X Factor results show – but not if you like your rosé sweet and sickly.
Castelao – also known as periquita – is the Portuguese grape variety here and it too is commonly used in port.
So we have peppery shiraz and red-berry castelao producing a medium and off-dry wine with strawberry, red apple and ripe fruits. It is well balanced with a hint of sweetness and a crisp finish.
I WAS going to write about Hallowe’en this week, but then remembered that I hate it. Just so you know, I refuse to answer the door on October 31. But I was amused to see a Hallowe’en offer from www.corksout.com of a “Hallow-wine” case filled with 12 “spooky wines” such as Spitting Spider Shiraz (from McLaren Vale, Australia) and Wolftrap White (a blend of chenin blanc, grenache blanc and viognier from South Africa). It is £94.99.
Also in my glass this week .... Madbay Unwooded Chardonnay 2011 (Tesco, reduced by £3 from £9.99 to £6.99 until October 30).
It’s not a shy wine – it may be unwooded but it’s no weeping willow; it stands firm with the strong personality of an oak tree. This chardonnay from Western Australia is rich and full of luscious stone fruit.