"Only those in the know drink Portuguese reds." This wine is another steal from Portugal, a country that is really grabbing my attention right now. The Douro region is renowned for port (the fortified wine), and over the past decade or so has begun to craft non-fortified wines that are complex and intense and drawn from the highly-planted Touriga Nacional grape.
If you haven't tasted Portuguese wines in a while (or if you have many years ago and did not like them), you are in for a real treat. New production technology and better quality control and yields have really turned things around in Portugal, similar to what occurred in the Languedoc region of France in the same period - both were known for serious plonk, if they were known outside their region at all.
The wine itself is a deep dark purple color, very intense and complex. I tasted rich, dark fruits like blackberry as well as a few bitter elements that brought balance and enhanced the long finish. We paired it with a delicious Basque recipe for grilled black cod, drizzled with an olive oil, roasted garlic and chili sauce - the wine really married well with the mouth-filling flavor of the garlic. No need to fear pairing red wine with fish in this case!
Grade: B+ (a good value at $22, and a good wine to expand your palate if you enjoy Malbec from Argentina, for example, given the similar structure and fruit elements)