2014 Quinta de Chocapalha “Mar de Lisboa” Red/Tinto, Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal (Alcohol 13%) LCBO Vintages $16.96 (750ml)

I was looking for something interesting and Portuguese at our Dundas West LCBO last week, something cheap-ish to go with my take on Piri-Piri chicken, and our three-year-old son started shouting “Daddy, Daddy! Look at this red fish wine! Can we take it home?”

A few days later I gave the wine a try and what do you know, as well as having a label that appealed to young children, it was pretty damn good. The Mar de Lisboa Red is a perfect fruity and fleshy wine for drinking every day.

The red and white striped capsule is supposed to be reminiscent of the many red and white striped lighthouses that one finds on the coast of the Lisboa region, reminding one of its proximity to the Atlantic ocean. Whilst the Beiras and Alentejo Vinho Regionals are largest geographically, the Lisboa region is Portugal’s largest producer of wine by volume. You may be aware of it by its previous name of Estremadura, easily confused with Extremadura, and this may well have been one of the reasons behind the change of name.

Located in the hills northwest of Lisbon, Quinta de Chocapalha is viewed as being at the forefront of modern Portuguese wine production, embracing new technologies alongside traditional techniques. Doing a bit of research it transpires that there is a Scottish connection here, the estate becoming the property of Scottish nobleman Diogo Duff in the 15th century; Duff was at one point granted the prestigious military order of the Tower and Sword by King D. Joao VI. According to the history books, the canny Duff realised the tremendous potential of these vineyards and set directions in place to keep the estate in his family for centuries until the 1980s. To this day the property is still family owned, but by Alice and Paulo Tavares da Silva.

This wine, whilst quite delicious, certainly isn’t too complex, but it really doesn’t have to be at $16.96 a bottle. If you are looking for something a little more fancy then Quinta de Chocapalha make an entire range of amazing wines above this smashing entry level example. The nose on this real bargain of a wine is all ripe black fruits with a touch of wonderful pepperiness coming from the interloping Syrah component; the rest of the blend is made up of the usual suspects, namely Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, and Touriga Franca. The tannins, while present, are well managed and approachably soft and supple. A bottle of this with dinner (or without!) vanishes in an astonishingly rapid manner, so best to purchase three.

This Mar de Lisboa is solid, eminently drinkable stuff.

3.5 apples out of 5
(Three and a half apples out of a possible five)


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And it was actually his three year old son who selected this bottle… because of the fish.