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Senior editor Dana Nigro joined Wine Spectator in 1998. She is managing editor of WineSpectator.com.
Dana Nigro

A Captivating Portuguese Red

Quinta de Roriz Douro Prazo 2006

Dana Nigro
Posted: October 14, 2009

One of the things I love about fine wine is how it changes in the glass, the way an intriguing new acquaintance can reveal different facets of his or her personality over the course of a long evening conversation. Quinta de Roriz's 2006 Prazo, which I picked up in the spring, was a silky dance partner, settling into a smooth rhythm, then spinning away across the floor before returning with a new flourish.

This Portuguese red—a blend of the traditional Port varieties Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and Tinta Cão, aged 7 months in oak—was bold, with sweet berry and plum, yet zingy enough to work with pizza and pasta pomodoro. Each time I went back to it, I found something different. On the first sip, I picked up a prune note on the finish, which later kicked into spice, then moved on to dark chocolate. At one point, the wine softened notably, turning mostly plummy. By the end of the second glass, it had settled into raspberry, cream and spice—and remained that way the next night, adding a little smoky cocoa to the finish. 92 points, non-blind.

Prazo means "lease," but this wine is cheap enough to buy by the case. I found it for $12, and got an evening's worth of entertainment out of getting to know it.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Quinta de Roriz Douro Prazo 2006 (90, $15).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated red wines from Portugal, along with our quick list of Top Values in Portuguese reds.

Russell Quong
Sunnyvale, CA —  October 14, 2009 6:55pm ET
I thought I had read that WS lets the wines breathe for an hour or so before the blind tasting. The blind tasting notes match extremely (almost shockingly) well with your second glass. I guess that is a limitation of the blind tasting as it only captures one point in time.

I've tried various Portuguese reds (87-91 pts) and none have been very impressive, but this sounds like one I should try if I run across it.
Dana Nigro
New York, NY —  October 15, 2009 8:21pm ET
Hi Russell,

Our tasting coordinators do set up a full flight of wines before the tasters start, opening the bottles and ensuring they're at the right temperature, but we don't normally decant the wines. You can see more about our tasting procedures in this video:
http://www.winespectator.com/video/index/playerid/353549858/lineupid/1527680295/titleid/1374431132.

Once our tasters have worked their way through a flight, they may return to certain wines to reconfirm their impressions before submitting the reviews and then unbagging the bottles. They typically do 20 to 30 wines in a flight, so we can be sure to give them enough time.

While blind tastings only capture a moment in time (as any tasting only captures a point in the wine's evolution), they're a great way to get at a wine's essential character. I may have picked up some different nuances a few months later, non-blind, with food, but as you noted, my note was pretty similar to Kim Marcus'. (Considering how much the wine changed in the glass at first, I was a little surprised myself when I looked up the note after writing my piece and saw that we'd used many of the same descriptors.)

I've been enjoying lots of Portuguese reds lately and many are great values, so I encourage you to keep experimenting!

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