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Admired Wine Brand Gets 3 Well Priced Siblings

Porta 6 is not just a single wine option. See how its three siblings shape up in today’s post.

Wine trade folklore often recounts the James Martin and Porta 6 story.

A ringing endorsement by the chef on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen created so much demand that it crashed its retailer’s (Majestic) computer system.

Other factors have also given the brand a tailwind.

First, it is Portuguese – one of the current top three wine producing countries for value for money.

Secondly, it has that yellow tram on the label; few visitors to Lisbon are not familiar with (and entranced by) those old trams.    

Even better, that picture is from an enigmatic painter (Germany’s Hauke Vagt) regarded by many as eccentric and reclusive – and, sometimes, both.

In another (very rare) testament to the success of the wine itself, it is listed by no fewer than six top UK retailers (usually at around £7.50).

It is made by Vidigal, a company founded about 20 years ago and based at the northern end of the long, narrow, Lisboa wine region.

Initially Porta 6 used just grapes from that region but Vidigal has dived into other regions now – especially for its newly introduced white and rosé wines.

I report on several of its offerings below and find that they all reach the good standard their trailblazer attained.

The images and hyperlinks provided should help you to find them in crowded displays.

Starting with the original

2021 Porta 6 Red Wine (from £6.99 at several mainstream retailers and 13.5% abv):

Perhaps one reason for the success of this wine is the skilfully used 40% contribution of Portugal’s castelão (periquita) grape.

Unusually, only 10% of the blend is from what is normally the first name on the team sheet – touriga nacional.

The remaining 50% is aragonez (tempranillo) but, despite that variety’s love affair with oak, none seems to be used for this wine.

Smooth yet full, the wine delivers dense damson, sour cherry and strawberry flavours combined with firm acidity, but limited tannin, and suggestions of chocolate and baking spice with a contrasting twist of graphite.

Moving up a rung

2019 Porta 6 Reserva (from £8.99 at Majestic and 14%):

This is a step up from the basic version doubling touriga nacional’s involvement (while adding syrah, cabernet and alicante bouschet to the mix) and aging the resulting wine rather longer.

It is sourced from handpicked grapes from the best parcels within the vineyards and the result is a Majestic exclusive that fully justifies the £2-£3 price premium over its younger sibling.

Smoky and intense, the wine brings us floral damson, black cherry and cranberry sauce flavours supported by good acidity and firm tannin plus hints of slate minerality, clove and black pepper.  

Next a change of colour

2021 Porta 6 Vinho Verde (from £7.99 at Majestic and 9.5%):

While the red range works perfectly as a substantial winter wine, Vidigal obviously felt that they needed a summer equivalent – where lighter, fresher options were needed – so where better to go than Vinho Verde.

One result of heading to that more northerly region, this brand’s white wine is a lively, low alcohol blend containing a 30% slice of the impressive arinto grape.

There are also slightly bigger contributions from the rather more mundane (but pleasantly aromatic) loureiro, and that grape’s regular partner trajadura (known as treixadura elsewhere).

Light and zesty, the result has apple and tropical fruit flavours accompanied by a crisp grapefruit prickle of acidity and a finish reminiscent of those green Opal Fruit sweeties.

And another switch of colour

2021 Porta 6 Rosé (£7.50 at Sainsbury’s and 10.5%):

But, of course, no summer wine collection is complete without a rosé and, adhering to the current trend, it needed to be – and is – a pale pink version.

Its constituents include the two main grapes from the original version but the third element this time is syrah – although, obviously, skin contact is minimal.

In addition, the result also keeps its alcohol at a “sunny afternoon, garden sipping” low level (10.5% in this case).  

Bright with herbal aromas, the wine features light bodied raspberry, strawberry and crab apple flavours with pink grapefruit acidity, a savoury herb finish and just a dash of sweetness.

My next post (on Monday) contains terrific recommendations of great, affordable wines for you in the weekly Top Tips feature – with a Valentine suggestion too.

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14 Responses

  1. Crikey Brian, every blog you hit the nail on the head! I really have found my viticultural home with your excellent reviews and recommendations and eagerly look forward to your emails and posts twice a week. I still owe you a few responses from this year’s suggestions to show my appreciation.

    I started my love affair with wines from Portugal only about a year ago. Courtesy of the excellent Aldi range principally. i don’t know what took me so long! Almost without fail their reds are so smooth, above all “tasty” and really good value as you say. I’ve found myself literally “chewing” them to aerate the mouthful and appreciate the fullness of grape flavours. Possibly much to do with the rarer varieties of grapes Portuguese wines offer, especially the delicious touriga nacional.

    That original Porta 6 red is definitely one of my regulars. I can’t wait to try these others you’ve highlighted, thank you.

    What I especially like is the lower alcohol levels of the white and rosé. Bring it on! For health reasons (diabetes 2 and monitoring weight) I’m really keen to add more lower alcohol wines to my wine repertoire. This is a big trend in New Zealand, I believe. Perhaps a topic for future blogs too? From what I can see, there’s only a limited offering from UK supermarkets.

    Slàinte Mhath! Keep up the good work, it is appreciated.

    1. Julian I was prompted to reply by you saying you were a member of the “Sugar Police” and I want to try and retain my 36″ waist. Brian also makes warning comments on residual sugar which helps me avoid it. I also agree Brian that the idea of lower alcohol wines prior to big reds is kinder to the liver.

      I try to loosely follow a keto diet where one self regulates carbohydrate intake so one’s waist stays the same size. I’m not giving advice, just saying what I do.

      I appreciate that Alcohol level are involved due to calorie count and Ethanol loads however always believed that sugar was the worst poison of all. Our blood cannot carry more than a half teaspoon of sugar so insulin has to be triggered which converts excess sugar to store it all as body fat.

      I also thought that the body has no way of storing or metabolizing toxins such as Ethanol so the liver filters it out and and the only thing the body can do is transfer it into our lungs and it evaporates from your mouth. That is why breathalyzers work very accurately. I postulated that if the body could not metabolize alcohol it does not add to one’s weight. It can however poison your liver so NHS guidelines still matter.

      Another thing I believe in is the 4 hour rule which means if you feel hungry 4 hours after a meal you need to eat more veggies. If you eat your veggies particularly early in the meal they exit the stomach first. This means the fibre is available and can stretch the transit times of the whole meal. The tough fibre get to the microbiome first where it needs time to break down. This slowed transit lessens sugar spikes and helps your stamina, dulls the urge for snacks and I can get by on 2 meals per day. Think about Muslims during Ramadan!

      So keto opens up the possibility of intermittent fasting for people but don’t exceed 12 hours. Diabetics are also expert in avoiding sugar spikes however get appropriate dietary advice.

      I believe that your body can metabolise sugar or fat to fuel your body. Perhaps there is a Doctor who reads this Blog and can advise us.

      1. Thanks for that detail, Chris. The science behind weight gains and other harmful developments is intriguing stuff. Personally, I found that reasonably brisk walking twice a day has reduced average weight by 2kg. However, the effect of alcohol does seem to increase with age, and I found buying a set of pub measures helps me control consumption. Drink less but better is one of the recommendations this site supports.

  2. Here is a question-Why is it called Porta 6?
    Answer: Look carefully at the label on the bottle and you will see the name of the winery on the top of the iconic tram ,but also in the bottom right hand corner a man sitting next to a flagon of tinto red wine and he is sitting in the door( porta in Portuguese) and his door is Number 6
    .I checked this with Vidigal!

  3. Great stuff as ever Brian. And on the back of the Porta 6 success has come more nice bottles from Lisbon and Setubal including Sainsbury’s Lisboa , Iceland’s Rabo de Galo and the terrific Asda Bodacious. I have bought Porta 6 in the large retail wine outlet in central Albufeira in the Algarve but there is another highly thought of range from that country called Cabriz . Lidl have had the excellent rose in the last couple of months but I’m yet to locate the very good red Dao here that was selling in a restaurant we used 5 years ago at around only €11
    … about €5 in shops. Lidl wanted £8.49 for the rose out of the wooden crates but reduced it to £5.99 to sell it off… that made it great value.

  4. Paul, great story, thanks for sharing. Another gem with the label is the fella braaing (OK, barbequeing) a fish while the cat watches him. If you look on the label continued at the back, the cat is playing a guitar singing a song with the words in Portuguese trailing up the artwork. I translated it to “It smells good, it smells like Lisbon.” No doubt a reference to the fish, probably sardines!

  5. Hi Brian, Nice write-up, as always, I remember the initial hype around Porta 6 and not being able to find any, I eventually got a case in Majestic Calais, think I paid about €3 a bottle. Probably drank too much of it and its initial appeal has faded a little, to be perfectly honest I prefer the Reserva (with the addition of 40% Syrah) with slightly more elegance about it and that’s my go-to Porta now. Worth keeping an eye out for wines from Vidigal, a lot of them are pretty decent for the price.

  6. Thanks to you I tried Porto 6 and have been buying it ever since . Asda are currently dining 4 bottles for the price of 3 so £22.50 for 4
    Great recommend and an endorsement by James Martin great value

  7. Thank you so much Julian – one of the nicest responses I have ever had. Glad you are a Porta 6 fan and think the Reserva will also suit you nicely. Vinho Verde is also a rich source of wines that keep alcohol low without forsaking too much texture or flavour.

  8. Pictures like that are so much fun. Am I alone in spending hours as a boy looking for the mouse in Terence Cuneo’s railway pictures?

  9. I remember recommending that rosé (in May 2021 I think) and it was an excellent option. You are right though – tasty but great value Portuguese wine is very much in the ascendency here, especially as we get our heads around those unfamiliar grape variety names.

  10. Presumably, their most recent expansion is due to a take-over of Vidigal a year or so back. As you say, be good to look out for what they are up to.

  11. Pleased to know that I helped you acquire a taste for the wine Jane (always provides a bit of a buzz for me) and thank you so much for the heads up on the promotion at Asda.

  12. Hi Brian great to see you sing the praises of “Porta” and “Vidigal” brands and I remember James Martin saying the red was in his view the best value red wines and one of his absolute favourites. When we were in the EC you could get it from Calais Wines. They did stock the red Porta 6 in bottles and magnums. The staff never placed the Magnums on the shop floor but if asked they mysteriously appeared from their back stock room. I really stocked up and drunk my last Magnum in March this year and it was lovely.

    You mention Touriga Nacional is in the grape mix so an alternative to your Porta 6 was recently remaindered from a Lidl Wine Tour. “Monsaraz Reserva” has the Touriga, Trincadeira and Alicante Bouschet which is illegal in France. The Alicante is fortunately legal in Portugal, gives a black colour and it ages for ever. The 2020 Monsaraz at 15% alcohol was remaindered at £3.99 despite receiving 90 Bampfield points. The 2017 Monsaraz was rated by Decanter at 97 points. These wines are similar to drinking Port which has been fermented to dryness. Enjoy!

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