Shanyn Ward is a WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) Diploma graduate and wine buyer for Cask & Barrel Liquor Store. (Photo: Carmen Weld)

Wineology: Italy and Portugal

Check out Okanagan sommelier Shanyn Ward’s wine column

With the holiday season around the corner, I like to start my Festive Season planning early.

Yes I am definitely one of those people who start my Christmas shopping months before – because the feeling of being overwhelmed with decreased funds in my bank account, all the dinner parties and gift giving is too much anxiety! I also happen to work in a retail shop, and lately, with all the issues with the Liquor Distribution Branch giving us no guarantee we will receive anything in a timely fashion, I figured I would roll my personal motto over into my buying position.

I have been on the hunt lately for good quality wines which won’t break the bank for me and my customers.

Two of my favorite countries to look at for these kinds of wine are Italy and Portugal. While I will not take it away from France and Spain as they also have some bargains; Italy and Portugal have been catching my eye more and more. The challenging thing about these countries, however, is the unrecognizable grape varieties and obscure labelling terms.

One thing is for sure though, with volume of juice produced in this particular part of the world we will always find an abundance of wines which will keep you with extra dollars in your wallet as the holiday bills build up.

What I am loving this week:

Italy is a country that has always ranked in the top three worldwide for litres of wine produced. They make everything from ultra-premium priced, collector wines such as Barolo and Amarone from the north, to the mid-high price tiers of Sangiovese and Montepulciano from the central area, to the southern Italy’s more cheap and cheerful Nero d’Avola, Negroamaro and Primitivo.

Last month I came across a couple of wines new into our province. The winery name is Catine Faliesi and they are a smaller producer from Campania; located in the foothills of Mt. Faliesi and in close proximity to Naples. The vineyards here are special in that they are planted in the volcanic soils which formed when Mount Vesuvius erupted. The soils create wine with structure and uniqueness.

The Faliesi Abrosto Rosso is a blend of Montepulciano and Aglianico. The Aglianico gives body and structure, as well persistent tannins, while the Montepulciano gives it a vibrant ruby/ purple color with blackberry and rustic flavors. It is a steal at only $15!

Portugal, who secured themselves in history and fame by their Port industry actually make amazing still wines as well.

The very rainy north western corner of the country produces light white and refreshing Vinho Verde. Douro Valley and Bairrada produce powerful, long lived reds made from grapes such as Touriga Franc, Tinta Roriz and Baga. It is the southern region just north of the city of Lisbon that has caught my attention over the past few months. Agricola Sanguinhal was created in 1926 and farmed organically since its conception. The vineyards are planted with over 30 different varieties, most of which are native to this part of Portugal.

The Quinta de San Francisco Tinto is made from a blend of Castaleo, Touriga Nacional and Aragonez. If you like deep full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon blends you will love this wines. It has depth, complexity and layers of dark fruit and mocha. This wine will run you $25 and is worth every penny.

Cheers!

shanynward@gmail.com

To check out past Wineology columns, click here.

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