A surprisingly good Portugueser, this.

And it shouldn’t really have surprised me as much as it did because one of the best wine experiences™ I’ve had was in Portugal, in a Lisbon wine shop, Garrafeira Nacional.

I was in Lisbon with the day job and had a few hours to kill so I do what I normally do and go window shopping, the windows being those of the local wine shops. Initially, I couldn’t find it so I asked a guy in a little restaurant for directions in pidgin Spanish-Italian. After a smirk he declared that he was the owner, the shop was right behind me but it was shut but that I should come in for something to eat.

There were no menus, as he assumed correctly that I wouldn’t be able to read them, and just brought dish after dish with a small glass of accompanying wine. It was here that I got a real Portuguese wine eduation. Dao, Douro, Bairrada, Alentejo, Beira Interior and Bucelas. Some of them were over 20 years old and had aged as gracefully as first growth Bordeaux.

After the meal, the owner beckoned me outside and across the road into his shop which he had opened…

This was two years ago, and despite the number of glasses of wine I had that night, it’s still a vivid memory.

One of the wines I didn’t have that night in Lisbon was a Palmela so when Wine Alliance’s Maurice O’Mahony sent me up a bottle of his Fontanário de Pegões Reserva 2007 from Palmela, I was eager to try it. Palmela is only across the Tagus estuary from Lisbon, on the Setúbal peninsula.

How was it?

Rich and as smo0th as velvet with a what wine snobs call an excellent structure. Lots of chocolate and plum with a pinch of cinnamon. A beautiful wine.

Perhaps the reason that I wasn’t served a glass of wine in Lisbon that night was that they were keeping it all to themselves. And rightly so.

Yours for the princely sum of between €16 and €18.

Received as a sample