2019 Altano “Naturalment”, Douro, Portugal (Alcohol 14%, Residual Sugar 4 g/l) LCBO Vintages September 10th $16.95 (750ml bottle)

I’ve been grilling a lot of sausages this summer, and I’ve been looking far and wide for the perfect foil for all of the slightly charred and herby pork and fennel ones I have grown particularly fond of as of late.

The other week I opened a preview sample bottle of this excellent organic Douro wine from the historied Symington Family Estates, and found it to be just what I was searching for, and at a most attractive price point to boot. Much of Douro’s red production exhibits good value, but I feel this one particularly so.

The blend is made up of the usual suspects for the region, that is Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta, Barroca, Touriga Nacional and Tinto Cão, with all the fruit being sourced from their vineyards in the Douro Superior.

Over the past two decades we have witnessed a revolution in the still wine production of this part of the world, with state-of-the-art winemaking facilities making clean, fresh, contemporary wines a million miles removed from many of the tired examples seen previously; this Altano bottling is testament to this.

It’s certainly a bigger wine, coming in at 14%, with simply bags of ripe and dark Douro fruit, but at the same time it is pleasingly light on its feet, with a freshness and vitality that one would never have found in the wines from the Douro 15 years back. As attractive as crazy-ripe Douro fruit can be, it’s such a welcome relief to have it accompanied by such wonderful fruit/mineral-driven vibrancy.

The bouquet is no lazy slouch either, with elements of anise, woodsmoke, and oak spice adding complexing to the stewed black fruits.

It’s also one of those rare things, an inexpensive wine that will actually improve with time in the bottle. That acid profile certainly helps here, but the lovely supple tannins present also give the wine an impressive structure that will be beneficial if any of you have the patience to sit on this for three of four years.

As I write about this wine all I can think of is grilling off those aforementioned pork and fennel bangers out back and relaxing with another bottle of this extremely solid wine.

(Four out of a possible five apples)