Sure, we love port, the world's most celebrated fortified wine.
But it is ironic, and even unfair, that Portugal is frequently mischaracterized as a one-drink pony. Instead, the country has a dazzling range of growing regions that collectively boast more indigenous grape varieties than anywhere else in the world.
The Herdade do Esporão winery, based in the up-and-coming region of Alentejo, has made a mission of illustrating Portugal's wine potential through a brilliant experimental spirit.
The winery's innovative approach is encapsulated in the fascinating Castas project. Bottlings under this label are produced from estate-grown fruit, in blends that change with each new release. Drinkers can follow the wine's transformation from year to year, each vintage a fresh window into the region's identity. Think of it as a character in your favorite show, the plotline of which changes each season.
The most recent release, 2010 Herdade do Esporão 4 Castas ($20 for 750 ml; click here to buy), for example, is a delightful red blended from four little-known grapes, including Aragonez (known across the Spanish border as Tempranillo). This particular bottling is surprisingly spicy and fresh. Destined for foods from the grill, it is redolent of juicy berries with a minty streak of licorice and herbs.
No more drinking reruns.