When our good friends Alex and Emma Canoni returned from their recent trip to Portugal they brought back memories of a beautiful country of unforgettable scenic vistas and rustic villages filled with friendly locals. They also brought back the story of a man named Cristian Bento.
Cristian lives in Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia, PA but his family is from Portugal and he has been traveling there his entire life. When visiting Portugal he would always enjoy their amazing wine but was disappointed by the quality and selection of Portuguese wines he found for sale back home. The majority of Portuguese wine found on U.S. shelves come from the large-scale commercial producers and fall in the $6.99 – $9.99 range. This injustice to Portuguese wine did not sit well with Cristian so he started applying for one license or permit after another and before long he had founded Silver Coast Imports.
Silver Coast Imports is focusing its attention on smaller family run estates which means almost all of their vineyards are new to the U.S. market. The price of the Silver Coast wines are slightly higher than you are accustomed to when shopping for Portuguese wine but the increase in quality makes it well worth the little extra. Cristian knows his market and is concentrating on value with most of his wines selling for less than $20. Bento offers a selection of unique wines for more than $20 that are also excellent values. Cristian told me ” My mission is to show people that Portugal is making super high quality wine and at better prices than other wine-producing countries.”
You can find Silver Coast Imports wine in P.L.C.B. stores, online at www.finewineandgoodspirits.com and by the bottle or glass in many Philadelphia area restaurants. Cristian has partnered with Dreadnaught Wines to be his distributor in PA making it even easier to find his Portuguese wines anywhere in the state. Millennials and folks that are 50+ are showing a great response to these wines because many of them have visited Portugal in recent years and want to relive their wine memories after returning home.
Silver Coast has a nice menu of both white and red wine. Their whites are surprisingly complex and several have received 90 plus ratings from Robert Parker Wine Advocate. He recommends approaching Portuguese Reds as you would Reds from France or Italy. Most wines are named by region not by grape variety. If you are familiar with shopping for Bordeaux or Borolo then you would feel comfortable shopping for Douro, Alentejo, Dao or Lisboa. Most Portuguese wines are blends but that’s not to say that there aren’t some very good varietals to be found.
A good place to start when exploring Portuguese varietals is with the white grape: Alvarinho and the red grape: Touriga Nacional. Alvarinho is the same grape as Spanish Albarino but the terrior of Portugal makes all the difference. Silver Coast lists a Quinta de Santiago 2015 Alvarinho 91 pts that is dry with a tropical taste profile of pineapple and lychee for $17.99.
Their Arrepiado Velho 2015 ($17.83 SLO) is a rarely found Touriga Nacional varietal that is partly oak cask aged with flavors of plum, smashed blueberries, lavender, violets, spice and tobacco.
Port wine has always been closely associated with Portugal. Silver Coast offers two very different examples of Port for you to discover. They import a Twandy Port that was aged 10 years in oak casks and a White Port made by Rita Marques and Ricardo Freitas from Maderia Wine.