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

A $5 Red. No, That's Not a Typo

Herdade do Esporão Vinho de Mesa Alandra NV

Dana Nigro
Posted: June 11, 2009

I stopped by a big New Jersey retailer one weekend to get a highly rated Portuguese red I like. One of the salesmen helped me find it, and then held up another bottle from Portugal. "This is one of my favorites," he said, "and it's only $5."

Five bucks?! Well, I thought, why not? Let's see what $5 gets you nowadays. We'd just had a discussion about German Spätburgunder and Zweigelt, so the guy seemed pretty serious in his recommendation.

A couple weeks later, on a hurried evening, my husband and I decided to open the Alandra, figuring it wouldn't be a waste if we didn't have time to finish it.

Bright and overtly fruity, the wine had enticing, high-toned aromas of berries, sweet cherries, baking spices and a hint of vanilla. Very promising.

I took a sip. It had a soft texture, but was simpler than the nose indicated: the fruit was fresh and sweet but not as intense, and the finish showed some spice but was a little short. Drat—didn't quite live up to the tease. Pleasant, but not a blockbuster surprise. Still, it was good. 84 points, non-blind.

Examining the bottle more closely, to see that the wine was a blend of traditional Portuguese varieties, I was surprised to realize it had no vintage date. My husband remarked that it would be a nice introductory red for people who think they don't like red wine or like sweetish wines. Then he ended up drinking half the bottle. And I quickly polished off the leftovers the next night. What more could we ask for from $5?

WineSpectator.com members: Get the original blind-tasting review of Herdade do Esporão Vinho de Mesa Alandra NV (85, $8) and see reviews of other Herdade do Esporão wines.

• Plus, get our quick lists of Top Values and Easy Finds among Portuguese reds.

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