Most people probably know that Portugal’s most famous wine, Port is from the city of Oporto on the Atlantic outlet of the Douro River. Vintage Port is a supremely luxurious dessert wine with prodigious aging potential, made from several different indigenous varietals found along the Douro River valley. Principle among those varietals is Touriga Nacional, an inky-black grape with a thick skin and intense fruity flavors.

Not known by many wine consumers is that despite the renown of Vintage Port, more than half of the red wine produced in Oporto is in fact dry table wine, of which the best is made from Touriga Nacional. The growing trend is for well-known Port houses to expand their export operations to include their own dry table wines, sourced from the same Douro vineyards that furnish the fruit for their famous sweet Ports.

Delaforce has a long history in the Douro region. From their web site (http://www.delaforce.com/):

“Members of the Delaforce family, of Huguenot origin, can trace their history back over 400 years. Their involvement in the port business dates from 1834 when John Fleurriet Delaforce came to Oporto to set up the new firm of Martinez Gassiot on behalf of its partners. In 1868 his son George Henry Delaforce founded his own firm, the House of Delaforce. In the years that followed, Delaforce rapidly became established as one of the leading port wine companies developing its sales in Germany, France, England, Ireland, Russia and the Scandinavian countries, as well as in Portugal itself. Between 1894 and 1906 the company was distinguished with a warrant as supplier of port wine to the Portuguese Royal Household.”

Current ownership of the Delaforce brand, Real Companhia Velha, also known as Royal Oporto, has over 250 years of history and uninterrupted activity in the Port Wine Trade. RCV is a major vineyard owner in the Douro valley with approximately 550 hectares (1,400 acres). Delaforce, to capitalize on the growing trend of promoting the dry wines of the region along with their traditional Port offerings, is promoting two of RCV’s premium vineyards – Aciprestes and Cidrô. The two vineyards have been selected to provide the grapes for Delaforce’s new brand of dry Douro table wines, called The Delaforce Collection.

At a recent trade tasting I had the pleasure of tasting through this new brand of wines and was suitably impressed. The group of wines consists of one Alvarinho-based dry white wine and four Douro red wines. Each of the wines was selected for their individuality and unique style. Of the five wines, my favorite was the 2009 Delaforce Touriga Nacional. The wine is 100% Touriga Nacional sourced from both the Aciprestes and Cidrô vineyards. Production is limited to 36,000 bottles to ensure a high level of quality, which clearly comes though on the palate, while enabling the wine to sell at moderate prices.

At an average, pre-discount price of $20 per bottle, the wine is a respectable value with some moderate aging potential.

DLaForc.TourigNac.2009

My tasting note:

Lush, jammy nose with black cherry, vanilla and eucalyptus hints. Full-bodied with moderate acidity and supple, yet firm tannin – well balanced. Port-like with a deep dark core of fruit – cacao and tobacco leaf notes. Long finish – seductive with cedar and cherry on the aftertaste. Delicious. Drinking well now and should improve with 5 to 7 years in bottle. Strong value.

Cheers!

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