Whether it’s taking her out to Sunday brunch or cooking a fancy dinner at home, Mothers Day celebrations often revolve around pampering mom with delicious food and drink.
This year, why not break away from offering her the old standbys like Chardonnay and Merlot and serve mom a wine created in one of Europe’s most diverse regions. The Lisbon Region has nine DOCs, or protected designations of origin, more than any other region in Portugal. The DOC Bucelas, just 12 miles north of Lisbon, produces some of Portugal’s best whites -- fresh, dry and crisp. If mom’s taste tends more towards reds, there is the DOC Arruda along the banks of the River Tejo, noted for its ancient castle, historic windmills and its deep, fruity reds.
Formerly called Estremadura, the Lisbon Region lies between the Tejo River and Atlantic Ocean, stretching about 60 miles inland. Characterized by its rolling green hills, the region’s varying climates dictate the style and flavor of wines. Grapes grown closest to the Atlantic are subjected to wetter and more moderate conditions, producing lighter, less alcoholic wines. Vines grown further inland yield stronger and fruitier wines.
If seafood or pasta are favorites of mom’s, try a Lisbon white. This region produces dry whites with a lower alcohol content, making them a perfect pair with light meals. These whites have enough pop to stand up to stronger flavors as well, including strong cheeses. Lisbon reds are characterized by flavors of dark berries and spice, a nice complement to the meal if mom wants to treat herself to a piece of prime rib or filet mignon.
The moderately priced wines from the Casa Santos Lima vineyard north of Lisbon is a good place to start for those just getting into Portuguese wine. One of the largest producers in the region, Casa Santos Lima began selling labeled wines in 1996 and has won numerous awards and positive reviews. Today, Casa Santos Lima exports to 30 countries around the world. Bottles can be found at a number of online and local retailers, selling for between $9 and $17.
Among the more than 50 grape varieties used in its wine, some are well-known to American wine drinkers, such as Pinot Noir, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc. Others provide a good introduction to Portugal’s most popular varieties. Casa Santos Lima produces whites with Arinto grapes, used in the widely popular Vinho Verdes of Northern Portugal, and reds with Touriga Nacional grapes, considered to be Portugal’s finest red variety.