How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

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Tomás Costa
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How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#1 Post by Tomás Costa » April 22nd, 2020, 1:44 pm

Hi everyone. I've been a lurker on this terrific forum for some time ago, and finally summoned the guts to register. I would like to apologize in advance for the long post!

As a native of Portugal, and the son of a wine journalist who has passed on his passion to me, I've starting to get to know my country's wine reasonably well. We're a diverse producer nation for the geographic space we occupy, and Portuguese wine is mostly tailored to Portuguese wallets - which trail behind the rest of Europe (and certainly North America). In fact, this has been a much debated issue among our producers: how to shed the image of Portuguese wine as a mere budget friendly alternative among importers, given that we can never compete with the productive capacity of New World countries.

The consequence of this is that I am, in fact, almost wholly ignorant of the wine world. Portugal has roughly 250 native grape varieties, and the international varieties everyone knows - the very foundation of the wine industry - are the exception to the rule here. I'm glad it's that way, because our varieties are our differentiating factor, but it also means that Pinot Noir and Malbec are merely things I've heard about, much as Encruzado or Alfrocheiro will be for the majority of foreign consumers.

I first dabbled into wine from other countries when I wanted to get my dad a Christmas gift that would actually surprise him. I decided to go for the most unorthodox possible place and came across a freaky (in a good way) warehouse/store/consulting company in Lisbon that only sells wine from small producers, Portuguese and foreign, mostly biodynamic and relatively affordable, in a quirky, fresh, anti-mainstream paradigm (no oaky fruit bombs, ever). I told the crew about my taste for old whites, which I share with dad (a 1984 Poço do Lobo was one of the best things I ever put my lips on, at Lisbon's Belcanto restaurant) and, failing to produce something exactly in that register, they handed me a 2011 Loire Chenin Blanc and a Jura vin jaune (2012 by Jacques Puffeney to be more specific). I thought they were both gorgeous, and quite unlike anything I'd ever had. The vin jaune was the perfect fit for our 'queijo da Serra' cheese.

Not long after that particular Christmas, a family friend who lives in Firenze offered us a bottle of Barolo. I was absolutely blown away, and again, it's because it didn't taste quite like anything I'd ever had before. I then started going to that small warehouse more regularly. Knowing it's probably a wine that will be more elegant than Barolo and not in need of quite as much cellar time, I got a 2013 Roagna Barbaresco from them, which is still stored away. I was also convinced into getting my first Garnacha and my first Alsatian Sylvaner, both still unopened. Lastly, I was at a Riesling vertical tasting in February, fascinated by how greenish and young a 2008 white could look, and again felt the doors of a different world left ajar.

You may have noticed that - guilty as charged - I have never, in my whole life, tasted a single wine from Bordeaux or Burgundy. As a classical musician, to me it sounds much like loving classical music and having never heard anything written by a German composer. Silly, at best! Reading just about any thread in this forum I feel like I'm trying to decipher a foreign language. I've heard of the legendary French wines which get 100 point ratings and sell for thousands, and recognize their names, but apart from those - which I'll likely never taste - I have very little knowledge of what goes on beyond the border at Vilar Formoso. I still have a lot to discover in my own country - even the Wine Advocate's Mark Squires has said he feels overwhelmed by the amount of producers, big and small, with quality projects over here - but I'd also like to get a proper wine education, and any proper education is diversified and well rounded.

So how should I go about doing it? The small warehouse I've been going to sells mostly stuff outside the mainstream (their most well represented Burgundy producer is a fellow with a wonderful moustache named Jean Claude Rateau), and although we have a few importers, such as Garrafeira Nacional, I have no idea how to exercise my judgement. Last but not least, there are the budget considerations: with the exception of the legendary Barca Velha and Pêra Manca brands, Portuguese top level wines never really go above 150€, and that is definitely not what happens with imported wine.

Thank you so much in advance!

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#2 Post by Todd F r e n c h » April 22nd, 2020, 2:19 pm

Welcome, Tomas - this is probably better in Wine Talk so I'm gonna move it for you
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#3 Post by Eric Ifune » April 22nd, 2020, 4:04 pm

Welcome Tomas! I'm a huge fan of Portuguese wines. I've a cellar full of wines I've been collecting for 40 or so years from all over the world, but in the past 5 years, have been concentrating on Portuguese wines. I love the Dao and Barrirada especially.
Back to your questions. I might concentrate on a few well known areas and wines. The Dao and Barriada are especially Burgundian, both red and white. Alentejo is much like the Rhone valley. German Rieslings don't really have anything similar in Portugal. I might concentrate on that to be different. Alsace and Austrian Rieslings are also worth trying.
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#4 Post by Sean S y d n e y » April 22nd, 2020, 4:20 pm

I don't know what's available to you as far as retail, and this may be cost-prohibitive, but - you're two hours from France!

Might be worth it to save up and just do a wonderful trip to the regions that you've named to visit as many winemakers as you can manage. Doing that along with eating at lovely restaurants (that you've researched and figured out as far as wine lists, of course) in and around where you're travelling sounds like it would be a pretty great way to immerse yourself in the wine world.
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#5 Post by Tomás Costa » April 22nd, 2020, 4:42 pm

Eric Ifune wrote:
April 22nd, 2020, 4:04 pm
Welcome Tomas! I'm a huge fan of Portuguese wines. I've a cellar full of wines I've been collecting for 40 or so years from all over the world, but in the past 5 years, have been concentrating on Portuguese wines. I love the Dao and Barrirada especially.
Back to your questions. I might concentrate on a few well known areas and wines. The Dao and Barriada are especially Burgundian, both red and white. Alentejo is much like the Rhone valley. German Rieslings don't really have anything similar in Portugal. I might concentrate on that to be different. Alsace and Austrian Rieslings are also worth trying.
Welcome to a huge world of wine.
Hi Eric! Thanks for the warm welcome. The parallel you made between regions is very useful to me. Riesling is indeed a very different ball game from anything we have here. I got an Alsatian Riesling for my last sushi meal and it was a great fit, but nothing like the fine German ones I'd had before... it was all zest, sugary and acidic in an appropriately proportional way, but none of that refined perfume and layers of complexity. One of my dad's colleagues from the magazine they work on happens to be a Riesling nerd... and he does a lot of importing in his wonderful winery and bar/restaurant in Lisbon, named Wines by Heart. Apart from Garrafeira Nacional, I'd probably rely on his business to get foreign wine.

The Alentejo is sometimes compared to Napa Valley as well. However there are plenty of examples of fine Alentejo wine which fall outside of the jammy, new oak stereotype - I'm a huge fan of the Fitapreta project, which is reviving old Alentejo grape varieties like Castelão. I know the Rhone was a favorite region of Parker's, so how unreasonable is it to compare it to the (undoubtly unfair and generalizing) stereotype of 'new world' wine?

If you like Dão and Bairrada, Caves de São João has a huge collection of old wines (Poço do Lobo and Porta dos Cavaleiros) for sale at absurdly low prices, though I'm not sure if they sell abroad. The 1990s reds from Adega Cooperativa de Cantanhede are also in spectacular shape - Baga is a tough grape, and ages quite impressively. A 1997 Conde de Cantanhede 1.5L sells for like 30€ (!).

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#6 Post by Tomás Costa » April 22nd, 2020, 4:45 pm

Tomás Costa wrote:
April 22nd, 2020, 4:42 pm
Eric Ifune wrote:
April 22nd, 2020, 4:04 pm
Welcome Tomas! I'm a huge fan of Portuguese wines. I've a cellar full of wines I've been collecting for 40 or so years from all over the world, but in the past 5 years, have been concentrating on Portuguese wines. I love the Dao and Barrirada especially.
Back to your questions. I might concentrate on a few well known areas and wines. The Dao and Barriada are especially Burgundian, both red and white. Alentejo is much like the Rhone valley. German Rieslings don't really have anything similar in Portugal. I might concentrate on that to be different. Alsace and Austrian Rieslings are also worth trying.
Welcome to a huge world of wine.
Hi Eric! Thanks for the warm welcome. The parallel you made between regions is very useful to me. Riesling is indeed a very different ball game from anything we have here. I got an Alsatian Riesling for my last sushi meal and it was a great fit, but nothing like the fine German ones I'd had before... it was all zest, sugary and acidic in an appropriately proportional way, but none of that refined perfume and layers of complexity. One of my dad's colleagues from the magazine they work on happens to be a Riesling nerd... and he does a lot of importing in his wonderful winery and bar/restaurant in Lisbon, named Wines by Heart. Apart from Garrafeira Nacional, I'd probably rely on his business to get foreign wine.

The Alentejo is sometimes compared to Napa Valley as well. However there are plenty of examples of fine Alentejo wine which fall outside of the jammy, new oak stereotype - I'm a huge fan of the Fitapreta project, which is reviving old Alentejo grape varieties like Castelão. I know the Rhone was a favorite region of Parker's, so how unreasonable is it to compare it to the (undoubtly unfair and generalizing) stereotype of 'new world' wine?

If you like Dão and Bairrada, Caves de São João has a huge collection of old wines (Poço do Lobo and Porta dos Cavaleiros) for sale at absurdly low prices, though I'm not sure if they sell abroad. The 1990s reds from Adega Cooperativa de Cantanhede are also in spectacular shape - Baga is a tough grape, and ages quite impressively. A 1997 Conde de Cantanhede 1.5L sells for like 30€ (!).

Sean S y d n e y wrote:
April 22nd, 2020, 4:20 pm
I don't know what's available to you as far as retail, and this may be cost-prohibitive, but - you're two hours from France!

Might be worth it to save up and just do a wonderful trip to the regions that you've named to visit as many winemakers as you can manage. Doing that along with eating at lovely restaurants (that you've researched and figured out as far as wine lists, of course) in and around where you're travelling sounds like it would be a pretty great way to immerse yourself in the wine world.
It's a terrific idea which I've pondered before, and it has two limitations - my budget, and my tremendous distaste for driving. But there must be a way around it... the post-COVID-19 world remains unpredictable, and who knows whether these adventures might become more affordable or more expensive, easier or more difficult. It will also depend somewhat on the fate of airline companies, especially low cost ones.

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#7 Post by Tomás Costa » April 22nd, 2020, 4:51 pm

Eric Ifune wrote:
April 22nd, 2020, 4:04 pm
Welcome Tomas! I'm a huge fan of Portuguese wines. I've a cellar full of wines I've been collecting for 40 or so years from all over the world, but in the past 5 years, have been concentrating on Portuguese wines. I love the Dao and Barrirada especially.
Back to your questions. I might concentrate on a few well known areas and wines. The Dao and Barriada are especially Burgundian, both red and white. Alentejo is much like the Rhone valley. German Rieslings don't really have anything similar in Portugal. I might concentrate on that to be different. Alsace and Austrian Rieslings are also worth trying.
Welcome to a huge world of wine.
Hi Eric! Thanks for the warm welcome. The parallel you made between regions is very useful to me. Riesling is indeed a very different ball game from anything we have here. I got an Alsatian Riesling for my last sushi meal and it was a great fit, but nothing like the fine German ones I'd had before... it was all zest, sugary and acidic in an appropriately proportional way, but none of that refined perfume and layers of complexity. One of my dad's colleagues from the magazine they work on happens to be a Riesling nerd... and he does a lot of importing in his wonderful winery and bar/restaurant in Lisbon, named Wines by Heart. Apart from Garrafeira Nacional, I'd probably rely on his business to get foreign wine.

The Alentejo is sometimes compared to Napa Valley as well. However there are plenty of examples of fine Alentejo wine which fall outside of the jammy, new oak stereotype - I'm a huge fan of the Fitapreta project, which is reviving old Alentejo grape varieties like Castelão. I know the Rhone was a favorite region of Parker's, so how unreasonable is it to compare it to the (undoubtly unfair and generalizing) stereotype of 'new world' wine?

If you like Dão and Bairrada, Caves de São João has a huge collection of old wines (Poço do Lobo and Porta dos Cavaleiros) for sale at absurdly low prices, though I'm not sure if they sell abroad. The 1990s reds from Adega Cooperativa de Cantanhede are also in spectacular shape - Baga is a tough grape, and ages quite impressively. A 1997 Conde de Cantanhede 1.5L sells for like 30€ (!).

Sean S y d n e y wrote:
April 22nd, 2020, 4:20 pm
I don't know what's available to you as far as retail, and this may be cost-prohibitive, but - you're two hours from France!

Might be worth it to save up and just do a wonderful trip to the regions that you've named to visit as many winemakers as you can manage. Doing that along with eating at lovely restaurants (that you've researched and figured out as far as wine lists, of course) in and around where you're travelling sounds like it would be a pretty great way to immerse yourself in the wine world.
It's a terrific idea which I've pondered before, and it has two limitations - my budget, and my tremendous distaste for driving. But there must be a way around it... the post-COVID-19 world remains unpredictable, and who knows whether these adventures might become more affordable or more expensive, easier or more difficult. It will also depend somewhat on the fate of airline companies, especially low cost ones.

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#8 Post by GregT » April 22nd, 2020, 7:21 pm

Hi Tomas and welcome. Sounds like you have a great adventure in front of you.

You're close to Spain and they have very diverse wines over there. That might be an easy trip by train? And if you develop some friendships there, that can lead to more.

You can trade wine with people too. Many people are curious about Portuguese wines but don't have access. It's worth looking around online for people who may be in your area or not too far.

And you're not out of the wine world. Portugal is right in it. It's just that in the US the wines aren't as known as those from France. Actually, even French wines aren't all known. Bordeaux and Burgundy and the Rhone are the popular ones, but a lot of people here aren't drinking much wine from Alsace, Jura, and Marcillac.

Stick around and tell us about your wines. [cheers.gif]
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#9 Post by John Morris » April 22nd, 2020, 7:44 pm

Tomas -- I think you're doing all the right things, and it sounds like this warehouse/store is giving you great advice. Presumably your father can help, too. If you can find some other people to explore new wines with, that's the best thing. If you can find some people who know more than you do, that would be even better. I think older, more experienced wine lovers will appreciate your curiosity and your openness, and would welcome your company.

Please report back here when you've tried some more wines. It was fascinating to read your notes!
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#10 Post by Otto Forsberg » April 23rd, 2020, 4:00 am

Tomás, since you live in the EU, probably the best way to proceed is to start buying stuff from internet shops. The prices are often very reasonable compared to imported wines and buying 12-18 bottles at a time keeps the delivery costs per bottle pretty low.

Do you have know any local people who share the passion and would be willing to participate in tastings where you'd share a bunch of wines and their costs?

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#11 Post by Russell Faulkner » April 23rd, 2020, 4:51 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 4:00 am
Tomás, since you live in the EU, probably the best way to proceed is to start buying stuff from internet shops. The prices are often very reasonable compared to imported wines and buying 12-18 bottles at a time keeps the delivery costs per bottle pretty low.

Do you have know any local people who share the passion and would be willing to participate in tastings where you'd share a bunch of wines and their costs?
Exactly. I order from all over the EU. Delivery typically €15 for 12-18 bottles.

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#12 Post by Jan Janas » April 23rd, 2020, 4:56 am

Hi Tomás!

I asked myself the same question when I started to explore the wine world more seriously. I live in Australia and the big, classic Old World household names are very expensive and buying bottles is prohibitive. The best way I found is to go to wine tastings. Try to find an independent bottle-shop that offers cheap tastings on a theme, or alternatively see if with your father you’re able to attend some tastings for those in the trade business. The one you mentioned seems very good, and it doesn’t matter too much if they only import lesser-known artisan producers - it might be better since you can relate to them on a more personal level instead of just seeing some number or blown-up story on some wine magazine or forum.

That is probably the most cost & time-effective way of doing things. Since participating in wine tastings at a local bottle-shop I was able to taste Italian, Californian, German, New Zealand, French wine. Hope you can find something suitable. From then on, it’s just a matter of patience - I really want to get in Burgundy too, for example, and a tasting I was really hyped for got cancelled because of the COVID-19...

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#13 Post by Andy Sc » April 23rd, 2020, 6:01 am

Here a few tips from my side (many of them have been mentioned before).

1) Do a lot of research. There are great books, magazines, blogs, forums with a lot of knowledge. Read what the critics write about the new vintages (Vinous, Wine Advocate, Burghound). This gives you a better overview on the most important grapes, regions, styles and vintages and what fine wine is all about.

2) Start collecting and diving into the different regions. Portugal might have a shortage of suppliers but through www.wine-searcher.com you'll find plenty of EU delivery merchants. A few suggestions for how to do that:

a) Identify the regions you wanna dive in (I would focus on the top 10 most prestigious one first. For reds: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Northern Rhone, Piedmont, Napa Valley,Tuscany, Southern Rhone, Rioja, Australia. For whites: Burgundy, Germany, Champagne)

b) Do a lot of research before you buy wines. Usually one critics opinion is not enough to make an informed decision unless you follow the critic for years and you have similar preferences. But a wine that has a high rating from several critics, seems to be something special and representative of the region/grape and is probably worth trying to learn more about the wine/region/grape.

c) Don't buy too much wine at once. The more you dive into fine wine, the more your understanding will grow and your preferences will change. That doesn't have to take years and decades. That can go quite quick. So I wouldn't buy 100 bottles of Chateauneuf du Pape only to find out 3 years later that these wines are all too ripe and have too much alcohol. But buying a few bottles of a few different producers by region to follow them over the next years helps .

=> If you are on a budget, these regions offer high quality grapes/regions for comparably low prices: Rieslings (Germany/Austria), Sangiovese (Tuscany), Chateuneuf-du-Pape, Rioja, to some extent Syrah (Northern Rhone). For the main regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy, Piedmont focus on the very good to excellent vintages to buy some lower tier wines.

3) Drink a lot of wine. And not only try to drink and enjoy it but also to connect it to everything you learned about the regions, grapes, wines, vintages, producers and to all the wines you had before. The best learning effect (which ultimately increases the joy and drinking pleasure) is to take notes on all the wines (I would use cellartracker.com for your personal wine journal). I would also score the wines (that's a way to force yourself to compare it to everything you had before, to properly analyse the wines you have and to hence learn more about wine).

4) Connect yourself to other wine lovers in your region. There will be clubs, tastings, verticals etc. Not only is it fun but it also broadens your horizon. And usually there is also one or the other friend with a much deeper cellar which loves to share some wines you don't have in your cellar. I would also go to wine fairs, trade shows, tastings organized by wine shops and producers. Focus on fine wine shops/tastings.

5) Travel to the wine regions (but only until you already now something about the wines, producers of that region).
Last edited by Andy Sc on April 24th, 2020, 1:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#14 Post by Robert Dentice » April 23rd, 2020, 7:04 am

Hi Tomás - Welcome! You will find lots of musicians, classical and other, who are interested in wine. I think I know the wine store you are talking about, in fact, Ed Motta the Brazilian musician told me about it. Knowing what they have in that shop, I would also suggest you explore Beaujolais.

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#15 Post by Mattstolz » April 23rd, 2020, 7:15 am

it sounds like your warehouse hasn't steered you wrong yet. I would keep going with them at least until you run out of options there! sounds like a great place to me. that way you can at least get a sense of what some of these regions are like and where you might want to focus some time for a deeper dive. it sounds like their stock may be a little less mainstream, but even with non-traditional types of producers you can still get a feel for how wines made from Nebbiolo might be different than the ones made from cabernet, or the difference between wines from Germany and wines from Australia. and if its local and you have a relationship and don't have to drive, all the better!

oftentimes, a larger city will have a larger wine scene, too. I'm not sure what other large cities you're close to, but getting there could help. you mentioned not wanting to drive, but what about a train trip? hopping on a train to Madrid will really open up your wine world for a couple days.

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#16 Post by Howard Cooper » April 23rd, 2020, 7:18 am

Tomás Costa wrote:
April 22nd, 2020, 4:51 pm


It's a terrific idea which I've pondered before, and it has two limitations - my budget, and my tremendous distaste for driving. But there must be a way around it... the post-COVID-19 world remains unpredictable, and who knows whether these adventures might become more affordable or more expensive, easier or more difficult. It will also depend somewhat on the fate of airline companies, especially low cost ones.
For threads to help you learn, try

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=91505

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=119762

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=155013

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=106291

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=169291&p=2964802&hi ... m#p2964802 [I know this is a good recent thread on German wines but think there are probably better threads for learning about German wines. Can anyone think of any?]
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#17 Post by Doug Schulman » April 23rd, 2020, 9:58 am

Welcome, Tomás! You've got some good advice here already, even if some of it might be more narrowly focused than you'd like. For instance, I like the idea of starting with the classics, but I have no idea why that list has only 2 categories for white wines. That seems crazy to me. And what about sparkling?

Anyway, to add to what's been said, what I tell anyone with this question is to get a good, introductory wine book like The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil (be sure to get the recent edition; it's still not perfect, but nothing is, and starting with the Oxford Companion could be daunting, even if it is the most authoritative resource). Drink wines from the areas you're reading about. Explore the world that way. While doing that, stick with your local merchant because they sound like a good one. Take their advice and listen to what they tell you about the wines, then go home and read more while you drink them. For categories or benchmark producers that they don't have, order from other stores within the EU. You'll do fine. Wine and music have many parallels. One that I often mention is that as we learn more, we find greater enjoyment.

Have fun!

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#18 Post by Mark Golodetz » April 23rd, 2020, 11:13 am

Welcome to the fabulous, exasperating and expensive hobby.


I am actually a little bit envious as you start your journey.
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#19 Post by Markus S » April 23rd, 2020, 11:29 am

Tomás Costa wrote:
April 22nd, 2020, 4:42 pm
Baga is a tough grape...
In more ways than one...

I'm not so sure the Portuguese wine lover is a poor sod: Quinta do Vale Meao sells for around $100US, and there are many others that sell for $30-50 here in the US. Like Eric, I love the wines as well but doubt my 1-2 cases of them are a match for his cellar.

Really not sure what sells there but German & Austrian rieslings, nebbiolo-based wines from Italy, Etna wines, Loire cab francs would give you something different from what you have there.

Good luck, and let us know what you try!
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#20 Post by Doug Schulman » April 23rd, 2020, 11:37 am

One other thing that I think is worth mentioning, even though you might know already. This board is an incredible resource. The collective knowledge here is truly awesome. One of the best things for someone starting out is that many top producers from many regions are discussed here. If you want to know whose wines you should try from a given appellation or grape, read through the posts here. Yes, some people drink a lot of very expensive wine, but many of us drink a lot of wines that most people in the hobby can afford and have spent lots and lots of time finding our favorite examples. Still, it's the internet, so don't assume someone knows what they're talking about just because they think they do (including me).

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#21 Post by Tomás Costa » April 23rd, 2020, 12:14 pm

Wow! Thank you all for the warm reception and informative answers so far!
GregT wrote:
April 22nd, 2020, 7:21 pm
Hi Tomas and welcome. Sounds like you have a great adventure in front of you.

You're close to Spain and they have very diverse wines over there. That might be an easy trip by train? And if you develop some friendships there, that can lead to more.
I love Spain, have Spanish colleagues and, as is typical with musicians, quite a few of them are wine lovers. I keep a list with their suggestions, though I take it with a grain of salt, since we have rather different palates. On my last trip to Spain - San Sebastián to be more precise - I got a bottle of Rioja and later found to my dismay it was a fruity new oak bomb (then later found out I should have expected this). Ribera del Duero is likely to taste familiar: Tempranillo is equally widespread in Portugal, under the names Tinta Roriz (Douro, Dão) and Aragonês (Alentejo). I'm all for potent reds provided they've got balanced acidity... so I guess what I need to do is take their suggestions and read what critics have said about them. Sadly, I wasn't able to travel to Madrid this April as I had planned, given the current events. I would have certainly tried to explore the local wine scene.
Mattstolz wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 7:15 am
it sounds like your warehouse hasn't steered you wrong yet. I would keep going with them at least until you run out of options there! sounds like a great place to me. that way you can at least get a sense of what some of these regions are like and where you might want to focus some time for a deeper dive. it sounds like their stock may be a little less mainstream, but even with non-traditional types of producers you can still get a feel for how wines made from Nebbiolo might be different than the ones made from cabernet, or the difference between wines from Germany and wines from Australia. and if its local and you have a relationship and don't have to drive, all the better!
I really like this warehouse, since it caters to my taste, and as far as that goes I'm very happy to keep exploring their stock. However it's made me think of whether there might actually be a contradiction between my desire to get a better overview on things and my desire to drink what I like. This warehouse has dozens of producers from Burgundy and the Loire, yet only three each from Bordeaux and Roussillon. From a business that sells from small producers with a philosophy for less technological/interventive wines, and with a taste profile which is the polar opposite of the so called 'international style', this is probably not surprising.

Is it true, then - and this is debated in the first topic that Howard posted here - that generally speaking Bordeaux is not really defined by terroir, and nowadays works more like a brand and a geographical concentration of modern wine making skill en masse? And in the case of its true traditional chatêaus, are their second/third/fourth labels worth getting?
Robert Dentice wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 7:04 am
Hi Tomás - Welcome! You will find lots of musicians, classical and other, who are interested in wine. I think I know the wine store you are talking about, in fact, Ed Motta the Brazilian musician told me about it. Knowing what they have in that shop, I would also suggest you explore Beaujolais.
They're called Os Goliardos, and yes, Beaujolais is fairly well represented in their stock. You're dead right when it comes to musicians: other than my dad and his associates, I've learned the most from my wine loving colleagues.
Andy Sc wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 6:01 am
Here a few tips from my side (many of them have been mentioned before).
These are great tips and a great summary. Thank you! I've gone to quite a few verticals, but in Portugal they deal with domestic wines much more commonly than foreign ones (that Riesling tasting was an exception, and it was led by a Brazilian sommelier with long experience as an importer).
Markus S wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 11:29 am
I'm not so sure the Portuguese wine lover is a poor sod: Quinta do Vale Meao sells for around $100US, and there are many others that sell for $30-50 here in the US. Like Eric, I love the wines as well but doubt my 1-2 cases of them are a match for his cellar.


I wouldn't cal us poor sods, but our minimum wage is 600€. A young doctor in a public hospital makes little more than the French minimum wage. This has a lot of reflex on the lower end of the price spectrum - you can get genuinely good wines for under 10€ with relative ease - but those are made by the same producers who churn out the expensive stuff, which seems to me to contrast with France's classification system. There's no budget Lafite that I'm aware of! What I mean is (with the exception of Barca Velha and Pêra Manca) a direct comparison between wines of similar categories, or similar ambitions, between Portugal and other regions will place the Portuguese wines at lower prices, generally speaking.
Doug Schulman wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 11:37 am
One other thing that I think is worth mentioning, even though you might know already. This board is an incredible resource. The collective knowledge here is truly awesome. One of the best things for someone starting out is that many top producers from many regions are discussed here. If you want to know whose wines you should try from a given appellation or grape, read through the posts here. Yes, some people drink a lot of very expensive wine, but many of us drink a lot of wines that most people in the hobby can afford and have spent lots and lots of time finding our favorite examples. Still, it's the internet, so don't assume someone knows what they're talking about just because they think they do (including me).
Indeed, and that's why I've been lurking this forum so long. There is a learning barrier, however, when you're not engaging with the same pre-existing knowledge, and that's what prompted this post. I find it easier to take notes for myself when I find topics with tasting notes, rather than topics which, for instance, debate the latest vintage of a certain producer vis a vis their previous ones. I'm not familiar with the producer and what is expected from them, or the environment they're working on. I'm hoping I will some day.
Mark Golodetz wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 11:13 am
Welcome to the fabulous, exasperating and expensive hobby.


I am actually a little bit envious as you start your journey.
If my background in music is any help, I'll probably feel like I'm just getting started regardless of my point in the journey. [cheers.gif]

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#22 Post by GregT » April 23rd, 2020, 1:51 pm

Well Tomas - if it's any help, my wife is a musician as were her parents and they all love wine and it turned out that many of their friends did and still do, so there's a whole network of people you're already in the midst of. BTW, what is your instrument?
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#23 Post by Tomás Costa » April 23rd, 2020, 2:23 pm

GregT wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 1:51 pm
Well Tomas - if it's any help, my wife is a musician as were her parents and they all love wine and it turned out that many of their friends did and still do, so there's a whole network of people you're already in the midst of. BTW, what is your instrument?
I'm a violinist. The music-wine parallel is definitely there... I've seen it far too many times for it not to be a pattern. They're both about elevating your sensory experience to levels far beyond the common in daily life, and both involve great amounts of craft and subjectivity. It doesn't surprise me, really.

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#24 Post by Eric Ifune » April 23rd, 2020, 3:21 pm

I've visited Caves Sao Joao several times and hand carried magnums back home. You're right, the prices are almost ridiculously inexpensive. I generally visit Portugal once or twice a year. I was supposed to go the first week in May, but that's now on hold. My current favorite winery is Herdade do Mouchao. I'm trying to build a vertical of their tinto and Tonel 3-4. I'm also trying to learn more about the talhas wines from Alentejo.

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#25 Post by Howard Cooper » April 23rd, 2020, 4:50 pm

Tomás Costa wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 12:14 pm


Is it true, then - and this is debated in the first topic that Howard posted here - that generally speaking Bordeaux is not really defined by terroir, and nowadays works more like a brand and a geographical concentration of modern wine making skill en masse? And in the case of its true traditional chatêaus, are their second/third/fourth labels worth getting?

(1) There is a huge split in Bordeaux between wines from wineries that have chosen to go modern and wineries that still make traditional wines. It is not all or nothing. The thread you are reading goes into which wines are in which categories.

(2) Most Bordeauxs, even with the best intention, are made using blends of grapes, a decent amount of new oak and from relatively large parcels of property. As a result, even the most traditionally made Bordeaux is never going to show terroir as much as a wine from a small winery from small plots in Burgundy made from one more transparent grape variety (Pinot Noir).

But, to me, if you want to learn the classics, you have to start with Bordeaux and Burgundy. THESE ARE THE CLASSICS. They are the most famous wine regions in the world, and for a reason. They are the birthplace to most of the top "international" grape varieties used the world over today. You can drink well made less expensive wines from these regions, but you need at least a rudimentary education in these two regions if you want to walk before you run, IMHO.

And, most of the top producers in Bordeaux and Burgundy DO make more and less expensive wines. The family that owns Lafite owns a number of wineries, but most of theirs in Bordeaux are still expensive. But a lot of other top wineries make less expensive wines. See for example Chateau Clinet in Pomerol makes an inexpensive wine called Ronin. viewtopic.php?f=1&t=107668&p=1603386&hi ... t#p1603386

In Burgundy, most top wineries make a range of wines starting with regional wines (Bourgogne Rouge or Blanc) and going up in quality and cost to grand crus.
Howard

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#26 Post by Mattstolz » April 23rd, 2020, 5:43 pm

Tomás Costa wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 12:14 pm

Mattstolz wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 7:15 am
it sounds like your warehouse hasn't steered you wrong yet. I would keep going with them at least until you run out of options there! sounds like a great place to me. that way you can at least get a sense of what some of these regions are like and where you might want to focus some time for a deeper dive. it sounds like their stock may be a little less mainstream, but even with non-traditional types of producers you can still get a feel for how wines made from Nebbiolo might be different than the ones made from cabernet, or the difference between wines from Germany and wines from Australia. and if its local and you have a relationship and don't have to drive, all the better!
I really like this warehouse, since it caters to my taste, and as far as that goes I'm very happy to keep exploring their stock. However it's made me think of whether there might actually be a contradiction between my desire to get a better overview on things and my desire to drink what I like. This warehouse has dozens of producers from Burgundy and the Loire, yet only three each from Bordeaux and Roussillon. From a business that sells from small producers with a philosophy for less technological/interventive wines, and with a taste profile which is the polar opposite of the so called 'international style', this is probably not surprising.

Is it true, then - and this is debated in the first topic that Howard posted here - that generally speaking Bordeaux is not really defined by terroir, and nowadays works more like a brand and a geographical concentration of modern wine making skill en masse? And in the case of its true traditional chatêaus, are their second/third/fourth labels worth getting?
I agree with what Howard said. It is true that you are probably not gonna get as nitty-gritty terroir with Bordeaux as burgundy, but there is definitely a difference between a classically made Margaux and St Julien. there really (sometimes for better and sometimes for worse) has been a big split in styles in bordeaux though, depending on owner and consultant. but that doesn't mean that there isn't a great deal of good wine. I suggest starting with what they've got and then asking them for somewhere you can order from in order to keep learning. a lot of times a good wine shop will know when you're looking for something they don't have and help you out. they also may have access to far more than what's on their shelf! Our local shop orders a couple bottles here and there for me all the time

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#27 Post by Wes Barton » April 23rd, 2020, 6:07 pm

Tomás Costa wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 12:14 pm
I really like this warehouse, since it caters to my taste, and as far as that goes I'm very happy to keep exploring their stock. However it's made me think of whether there might actually be a contradiction between my desire to get a better overview on things and my desire to drink what I like. This warehouse has dozens of producers from Burgundy and the Loire, yet only three each from Bordeaux and Roussillon. From a business that sells from small producers with a philosophy for less technological/interventive wines, and with a taste profile which is the polar opposite of the so called 'international style', this is probably not surprising.
I think you have it a lot better than you think. A lot of people on here don't live near great wine regions, or perhaps have a literal handful of nearby quality producers. They're in restrictive shipping states with poor retail options. So, there's a lot of bumbling around in the dark, looking to media and forum suggestions. Not saying they don't drink well, but many miss out on a lot of amazing lower priced wines. Maybe some negative reinforcement behind that.

It sounds like this warehouse has an amazingly curated selection to explore. You're also in a country with a lot of exciting stuff going on with all the distinct, unique native grapes. We should all be jealous.

As far as Spain goes, I'm particularly fond of the wines of Ribeira Sacra. Especially Algueira. Wonderfully aromatic, purely expressive.
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#28 Post by Wes Barton » April 23rd, 2020, 6:25 pm

Another point: While you may desire some commonality between what you're reading about, such as wines people are discussing here, which is important, it is also great to have some things you can bring to the table, so to speak. The world of wine is so broad that no one knows everything. You can be a very valuable contributor to this forum. Maybe meet up with folks who travel to your country. This is a great hobby involving a lot of wonderful people.
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#29 Post by R. Frankel » April 24th, 2020, 12:04 pm

Lots of good advice here, but I will reinforce one path to wine education: find people near where you live who love wine. Meet them, dine with them, share bottles and conversation. I have done this and made wonderful lifelong friends while learning a ton about wine.

You can find them here! Post in the Offline board for interest in a local ‘bring a bottle’ dinner. Don’t worry about a theme. ‘Bring something you like and want to share’ is low pressure. Find a local restaurant that has decent food and offer to take a big table on a Monday or Tuesday (i.e. a slow night). Some of my favorite restaurants have ‘zero corkage Tuesday.’ Tip big and they’ll invite you back over and over.

Your new friends will guide you down surprising paths and you will rapidly learn what you like and don’t like. And don’t worry about trying everything. You can’t! But you will learn fast.
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#30 Post by Tomás Costa » April 24th, 2020, 5:13 pm

Wes Barton wrote:
I think you have it a lot better than you think. A lot of people on here don't live near great wine regions, or perhaps have a literal handful of nearby quality producers. They're in restrictive shipping states with poor retail options. So, there's a lot of bumbling around in the dark, looking to media and forum suggestions. Not saying they don't drink well, but many miss out on a lot of amazing lower priced wines. Maybe some negative reinforcement behind that.

It sounds like this warehouse has an amazingly curated selection to explore. You're also in a country with a lot of exciting stuff going on with all the distinct, unique native grapes. We should all be jealous.

As far as Spain goes, I'm particularly fond of the wines of Ribeira Sacra. Especially Algueira. Wonderfully aromatic, purely expressive.
I consider myself to be very blessed. I have tasted a lot of wonderful stuff which didn't come out of my pocket, I know a good deal of the wineries in Douro and Alentejo with my own eyes and pair of feet, and I get free entrance to some of the country's biggest wine events. These events are overwhelming: there are a poopload of producers in Portugal nowadays, and I walk away after three days of wine marathon with the sensation that I haven't tasted much more than a drop in an ocean of possibilities. Then I come to a forum such as this, where most talk is France and US West Coast, and realize I've been living in a different planet. The wine world is truly humongous.

As for the warehouse (Os Goliardos), they're a bunch of amazingly friendly and unpretentious wine nerds who spent years living abroad, came back to Lisbon and started selling from many biological/biodynamic/otherwise less interventive, terroir inspired producers from virtually all regions in Europe, who they got to know personally and whose products they've been tasting for a long time. Every winery on their portfolio is a place they've visited and know intimately, so even though I like to do my research before I order anything, I always have complete trust in whatever they have in their catalogue. Best part? Hardly anything they sell is over 80€. Worst part? I can't find a single soul who can relate to my purchases! One of their Bordeaux producers is a couple who owns three hectars of land. It's a miracle their wines made it to another country.

I love the whites in Rias Baixas, which form somewhat of a transnational wine region as they are contiguous with the Vinhos Verdes, but I am yet to better explore Galicia in terms of its winemaking (I've been familiar with, and in love with, their seafood since childhood). One of my latest purchases from that warehouse was a wonderful red from Monterrei, a Bastardo based blend, so yours is a great tip.
R. Frankel wrote:
April 24th, 2020, 12:04 pm
Lots of good advice here, but I will reinforce one path to wine education: find people near where you live who love wine. Meet them, dine with them, share bottles and conversation. I have done this and made wonderful lifelong friends while learning a ton about wine.

You can find them here! Post in the Offline board for interest in a local ‘bring a bottle’ dinner. Don’t worry about a theme. ‘Bring something you like and want to share’ is low pressure. Find a local restaurant that has decent food and offer to take a big table on a Monday or Tuesday (i.e. a slow night). Some of my favorite restaurants have ‘zero corkage Tuesday.’ Tip big and they’ll invite you back over and over.

Your new friends will guide you down surprising paths and you will rapidly learn what you like and don’t like. And don’t worry about trying everything. You can’t! But you will learn fast.
If I were still in Lisbon with no pandemic going on (I'm taking refuge at my parents', many miles away) I would definitely be going on Meetup to find something like that... Or maybe start a group of my own. It's a shame there won't be much traveling done in the near future. I'd love to be cicerone to anyone from the forum who happened to come here.

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#31 Post by Wes Barton » April 24th, 2020, 5:42 pm

I love the whites in Rias Baixas, which form somewhat of a transnational wine region as they are contiguous with the Vinhos Verdes, but I am yet to better explore Galicia in terms of its winemaking (I've been familiar with, and in love with, their seafood since childhood). One of my latest purchases from that warehouse was a wonderful red from Monterrei, a Bastardo based blend, so yours is a great tip.
Most of the Galician reds I see here are Mencia and a few Mencia dominant old vine field blends. The best two reds were both from Algueira, and also the best examples of those two grapes I've had. Merenzao (aka Bastardo, Trousseau) and Brancelao (aka Alvarelhao). So good I want to visit. So good (along with the quality of Galician wines in general and some other factors) a friend is looking at moving there.
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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#32 Post by Subu Ramachandran » April 26th, 2020, 1:56 pm

Tomás Costa wrote:
April 22nd, 2020, 1:44 pm

You may have noticed that - guilty as charged - I have never, in my whole life, tasted a single wine from Bordeaux or Burgundy. As a classical musician, to me it sounds much like loving WESTERN classical music and having never heard anything written by a German composer. Silly, at best! Reading just about any thread in this forum I feel like I'm trying to decipher a foreign language. I've heard of the legendary French wines which get 100 point ratings and sell for thousands, and recognize their names, but apart from those - which I'll likely never taste - I have very little knowledge of what goes on beyond the border at Vilar Formoso.

Thank you so much in advance!
Andy had some great points which I totally second.

I know this is beside the point, but fixed it for you in bold :) There are tons of classical music fans in the world who haven't heard of any German composer's work [Till a decade back you could have added me to that list]. Simiarly, there are many wine fans who haven't enjoyed classics from Barolo or Bdx or Mosel or [insert any region you like].

Just like in music, jump in and let the journey take you. Drink what you like not what others prefer!

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Re: How do you reach the wine world everyone discusses?

#33 Post by Tomás Costa » May 6th, 2020, 4:54 pm

Subu Ramachandran wrote:
April 26th, 2020, 1:56 pm
Tomás Costa wrote:
April 22nd, 2020, 1:44 pm

You may have noticed that - guilty as charged - I have never, in my whole life, tasted a single wine from Bordeaux or Burgundy. As a classical musician, to me it sounds much like loving WESTERN classical music and having never heard anything written by a German composer. Silly, at best! Reading just about any thread in this forum I feel like I'm trying to decipher a foreign language. I've heard of the legendary French wines which get 100 point ratings and sell for thousands, and recognize their names, but apart from those - which I'll likely never taste - I have very little knowledge of what goes on beyond the border at Vilar Formoso.

Thank you so much in advance!
Andy had some great points which I totally second.

I know this is beside the point, but fixed it for you in bold :) There are tons of classical music fans in the world who haven't heard of any German composer's work [Till a decade back you could have added me to that list]. Simiarly, there are many wine fans who haven't enjoyed classics from Barolo or Bdx or Mosel or [insert any region you like].

Just like in music, jump in and let the journey take you. Drink what you like not what others prefer!
Hi Subu! If you'll allow me to momentarily go off topic, I would argue that the 'classical music' moniker is inappropriate at best. What we call 'classical music' in the West ought to be called Western Art Music, as its defining criteria is the creation and reproduction of the music through written (western) musical notation - as opposed to, say, what is refered to as Indian classical music, which is not only a fundamentally oral tradition but also based on an intonation system unheard of in the West before the mid 20th century, and never quite applied the same way. Long story short, we're using 'classical music' to refer to both apples and oranges. A bit like comparing wine with 'barley wine' (a beer/ale, which I happen to love).

Wine is wine. Some of it more industrial, some of it the product of winery artisans. Some of it more interventive, some of it more 'natural' (a deliberately vague term). There are myriads of different techniques and philosophies which lead to a huge array of contrast in the wine world, but ultimately it's all fermented grape juice. My two cents. I guess what pains me is the knowledge of how immense, and costly, this wine universe is. I'm not even close to exhausting what's been going on in my own backyard. Not even 0.1%. And it's terrific! But there's a whole wide world out there, and it's giving me a headache, because the more I read this forum the more I believe I can't get a good education in Burgundy without seriously compromising my financial future. [cry.gif] I'll be waiting for the wine tastings to come back and see what happens...

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