Prices for several vintages of this Portuguese wine of the week are presented below.
2015 from 225 Ukranian hryvnia, €7.95, £16.99 (magnum), NZ$21.95
2016 from HK$85, 85 Polish złoty (three-litre bag-in-box)
2017 from €3.95, £9.29, 13.50 Swiss francs, 2,160 Icelandic kronur, 129 Norwegian kroner
Unspecified vintage from CA$13.99, 45.99 Brazilian reais
In the week that my vinous alma mater, the UK's leading chain of specialist wine stores Majestic Wine, announced its imminent sell-off, there was only one option for my wine of the week. It is one of their top-selling reds, and deservedly so – a brilliantly crowd-pleasing Portuguese blend with a memorable label that represents excellent value for money, both in Britain and around the world (note all those currencies above).
In recent years, many people (myself included) have expressed dismay at the direction that Majestic have been taking, especially regarding its selection of wine, which has become increasingly reliant on own-brand labels. Over the past ten years, their retail model has changed significantly from the one I knew. This was doubtless necessary in an evolving (and challenging) British wine market, but none of those strategies seems to have done enough to save Majestic. Consequently, their recently announced plans are to sell some stores, rebrand others and redirect funds to the group's Naked Wines operation.
So one afternoon this week, I stopped in at one of the oldest branches of Majestic, at Vauxhall in south-west London, where I worked many a shift in the past, to buy a wine that is the star of their range – and to remember everything that we once celebrated about this retailer.
Made by Vidigal, whose motto is 'the best possible wine at the lowest possible price', Porta 6 is a blend of 50% Tinta Roriz, 40% Castelão and 10% Touriga Nacional from the massive Vinho Regional Lisboa area. There is nothing especially remarkable about that, so the explanation of the quality in the bottle must be down to prudent grape sourcing and canny winemaking.
The quality on the palate really is impressive. I purchased a bottle of the 2017 vintage and a magnum of the 2015 vintage, at £9.29 and £16.99 respectively, and I'm tasting them as I write this. In both cases, there is a clarity and ripeness to the fruit on the palate that delivers sheer, pure deliciousness. The 2017 is more vivid and expressive, while the 2015 still has enjoyable exuberance – although in both cases, the aromatic impact on the nose is rather understated. However, the acidity and tannins are incredibly fine-tuned, giving mouth-watering crispness and a well-judged floury grip to the structure. They remind me of the best Côtes du Rhône – bursting with ripe red fruit but savoury to finish, with a liquorice note, sweet spices and a touch of menthol.
It is exactly the kind of wine that made Majestic such a great place to shop – and to work.
So, while British drinkers still can, I strongly recommend stocking up on Porta 6, especially because the cost is £8.28 and £14.99 when six or more bottles are purchased from Majestic. For me, the 2017 would be the one to go for, but the strength of the 2015 today (and when I tasted it two years ago) makes me confident in recommending any vintage. Around the world, several different vintages of Porta 6 are currently on the market, packaged in a variety of formats, from half-bottles to three-litre bag-in-box. They are available widely across the Eurozone, with decent distribution in Canada, the Nordic countries and Brazil, but it is not currently available in the US, it seems.
Whether you have a sentimental attachment to Majestic or not, this wine stands as a brilliant buy.