A 6.75€ stunner from Portugal

Just back from a week in Portugal, and had to share a crazy wine story. It started at Michelin 1star restaurant Alma in Lisbon (great meal, highly recommended), when I engaged the sommelier and said simply “do you have anything funky from a producer you admire with a natural-wine bent”? I hadn’t really scanned the list, but was somewhat shocked when he went straight to one of the lowest priced bottles there - and that it also had some good age on it - a 2006 “Vinho Regional Lisboa” blanco from Casal Figueira for 26€ (I doubt many Michelin restaurants would even consider having a bottle priced that low, let alone recommend it right away). He started by saying this vintage was made by the late António Carvalho, whose wife Marta has since taken over the business, and that Carvalho was a legend in the region. He got a few words in to describing the wine… sea air, strong minerality, lush earthiness… and I said, I’m sold.

In a word, it was fantastic. The closest reference points I have would be a cross between the old Poco do Lobo whites that are out there and a Salinia chardonnay from California (remember that?) - two wines that I love but that are entirely different from each other. Somehow, this bridged that span. Apparently, it includes grapes from a small plot of Roussane that no longer exists (the label doesn’t specify the varieties), which could explain the lushness that balances out the minerality. At the end of the meal I asked if he knew where I could find a bottle of one of these older vintages, and he said it was highly unlikely.

The next day, I searched the online inventory of Garrafeira Nacional and also inquired at their shop in the mercado. They guy there didn’t think they had ever even carried the wine (which was surprising to me, since they are the leading wine shop in town). Later that day, we were walking around Belem and stumbled upon a tiny wine shop called Garrafeira Estado d’Alma - and guess what? They had this wine! For 6.75 euro a bottle (including tax)! I snagged two of the four bottles they had left (I would be walking around Belem the rest of the day visiting sights, so didn’t want to be weighted down TOO much - though now I wish I had, of course).

Anyone else tried this wine? Anyone else every paid 26 euro for an awesome bottle at a Michelin star restaurant!?

Looks like Obrigado is an importer for the producer now in the US (https://www.obrigadovinhos.com/wines/1080-antonio), and here’s a US shop with good detail on a recent vintage of a different wine from Marta - Casal Figueira - Antonio Vital 2015 (Biodynamic) - Chapel Hill Wine Company.

I hate restaurant markups .

I’ve got no problem with a 19 euro markup at a fine dining restaurant. Same as typical corkage.

Great story and glad you were able find the wine retail.

I was joking around.

When we popping one?

Some ridiculously low priced wines in Portugal. Look up Quinta do Sobral in the Dao. Their reserve tinto is fantastic and 12 euros at the cellar door. They also make one of the best roses I’ve ever had.

This sounds beautiful Brad.
So happy you had a great time in Portugal too!

Thanks, Don. And Eric, yes, insanely good prices. We visited Adega Viuva Gomes (Colares), and tasted the lineup - ending with the 1969 (priced at 60 euro, which is a heck of a bargain), but starting with their entry label blanco that’s just 6 euro. Bought one bottle to enjoy by the beach, but I’d buy it by the case if we had it in the US. Crazy that this small producer, making great wine, is only charging 6 euro a bottle.

Patrao Diogo Vinho Regional Lisboa Blanco 2017. (not on Cellartracker - nor were most of the wines we enjoyed in Portugal)

If you ever get a chance, go to Caves Sao Joao in Bairrada. A warren of old wines. Got a magnum of the 1978 Frei Joao for 80 euros. Terrific old school whites as well.

We just returned also and had some great wines while there. It sucks that many are not available in the US. Even worse is that in the US an $8 bottle sucks.

Would love to visit - have had the 95 Poco do Lobo (love it!) and the 90 Frei Joao.