Who's been to Lisbon? Having been for the first time a few years ago, I must say it now vies to be my favourite European City, which is saying something. The centre of town is all walkable, the cafes and bars are great and of course the custard tarts are non-pareil. There's a lovely atmosphere and plenty of good nosh and wine to keep you busy. My favourite shop has to bethe Conseveira de Lisboa, which just sells tins of sardines, tuna, anchovies and other oily fish, all lovingly wrapped for you in brown paper. Hilarious. I rather idiotically came back with about 40 tins in my bag. Aside from that, the shops that really interested me were of course the wine shops. There's a decent chain called Napoleão, their flagship store in the centre of town. It's a lovely shop with very knowledgeable and multilingual staff, who will happily guide you through a purchase to suit your desires and pocket, from good value simple wine through to the best Vintage Port.
As I had to put my purchases in my check-in baggage alongside my sardines, I settled for six bottles of Douro red, two each from three different producers. They were all good bottles but not premium; between €10 and €15 a bottle. The Douro is increasingly a great area to source interesting light (ha ha!) wine as opposed to fortified wine (ie Port). The wines are made from the same eclectic bunch of local varieties as Port; Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa and Tinta Roriz to name but three. They are typically deeply coloured, richly flavoured with bags of black fruit and plenty of tannin, needing a few years to mellow out. They have made great strides in recent years and can be extremely good but also stratospherically expensive. In the mid-range however, as is so often the case, there are some really decent and interesting wines to be had at fair price.
So last night I finally had the first of two bottles of Quinta de Estremadouro 2000, from the Douro valley. I haven't had it before and I'm happy to say the recommendation was spot on. It was fully mature, with lots of tobacco and leather, but still plenty of deep damsony fruit too. The oak was well judged and although perhaps a year too old it was still very good. Complex, savoury and long it was quite delicious with our local Green Lanes shish kebabs and a snip at €9.