While best known for its Periquita and Lancer’s rose, two enormously successful wines, the Jose Maria da Fonseca winery produces a large and diversified portfolio of high quality Portuguese table wines. Domingos Soares Franco is one of Portugal’s most accomplished winemakers, On his recent visit to Washington DC with importer Palm Bay International, Domingos gave us the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with his wonderful wines.
We first met Domingos at his winery in Azeitao on the Setúbal Peninsula in 2010 when we were preparing Report #24 The New Wines of Portugal. We had a memorable tasting lunch with him, which we repeated on this occasion at Arroz, one of DCs finest new restaurants. For this tasting, Domingos offered us a selection of new easy drinking red blends, including a Periquita Reserva, and new vintages of Domini and Domini Plus, his fashionable wines from the Douro first launched in 1999 in partnership with Cristiano von Zeller. We were also treated to his delicious Alambre Moscatel, including two older vintages.
As noted in the tasting notes below, we were impressed with the quality of the wines and their bargain prices , There aren’t many wines on the market today that offer comparable quality-price ratios. They also reveal the charm of Portuguese wines which for many wine enthusiasts are still relatively unknown but are now affordable to try. It almost seems like they are a perfect fit for millennial wine drinkers.
Jose Maria da Fonseca 2016 Ripanço Alentejo ($12) 89 This is a lovely fresh fruit forward wine made of Aragones, Trincadeira, Syrah and Alicante Bouchet. It offers ripe plum and dark cherry flavors and is very approachable and easy drinking. There is a hefty 10.0 g/l of residual sugar in the blend, but it adds to the charm of the wine. Amazing price-quality ratio. Buy this one by the case.
José Maria da Fonseca 2015 José de Sousa Alentejo ($17) 89 A blend of Grand Noir (a cousin of Alicante Bouschet), Trincadeira and Aragonez, the Jose de Sousa offers rich dark red fruit with hints of spice and chocolate. It is fresh tasting and easy drinking with firm tannins.
José Maria da Fonseca 2014 Periquita Reserva Setúbal Peninsula ($15) 90 The Periquita Reserva is a blend of Castelão, Touriga Nacional, and Touriga Francesa. It exhibits excellent depth and richness with notes of chocolate, vanilla, and dark fruit. Aged in 80% American and 20% French oak, it is a delicious wine and a tad more complex than the regular Periquita which is also a winner. Amazing value.
Jose Maria da Fonseca 2014 Domini Douro ($16) 91 Domini and Domini Plus are highly fashionable wines made from a blend of Douro grapes. The first level Domini is fresh and vibrant tasting with dark fruit, a hint of sweet oak, and round tannins .
José Maria da Fonseca 2014 Domini Plus Douro Superior ($40) 92 The more substantial Domini Plus is a big tasting wine with dense and unctuous black fruit flavors and hints of loam and minerals. Aged in French oak, it is super concentrated with excellent structure, firm round tannins and a long finish.
José Maria da Fonseca 2010 Alambre Moscatel de Setúbal Setúbal Peninsula ($17) 93 A lovely dessert wine, the orange-tinged amber 100% Moscatel de Setúbal (the same as Muscatel de Alexandria) offers notes of orange marmalade on the nose with a hint of red fruit. It displays a lovely palate showing orange citrus and is very expressive with a creamy texture. It doesn’t taste overly sweet despite 127 g/L RS. Offered at a fabulous price.
Importer: Palm Bay International