Once you move past the grapes, and the climate, which is hot and dry for the most part, conducive to ample yields, firmly structured, and deep wines, and big fruit, you come to the winemaking. Portugal, like much of Europe, has a long history of extended oak ageing for their red wines, though here in this warm climate that ageing was often quite justified. Not only do many of these grapes have thick skins, to better endure the unrelenting sun, that deliver formidable tannins, but the heat and dry climate often produce tiny berries that have a very low juice to skin ratio. The resultant wines needed an extended slow oxidation to help soften them and make them palatable. Today that is rarely the case, though the long ageing does persist in some place and with some wines. These legacy wines are sometimes dried out, but you also can happen upon wonderfully appealing, bright, juicy and softened wines that harken back to an earlier time. Greater attention to hygiene in the cellar distinguishes these wines from their counterparts of just a few decades ago, but the live on in that vein and make for some terrific food wines.
 
At the opposite end of the spectrum one can find modern wines of many stripes. Cool fermented, stainless steel aged examples that celebrate their fruity nature, or barrique aged examples that might also incorporate some international varieties. These modern renditions generally have more fruit that the more traditional examples, and while that may not always be preferred, it is one of the great features of these wines. You see the combination of Portuguese varieties, with Portugal’s climate produce wines that can be intensely fruity. Not fruity in an over-ripe or candied way, just plain old fruity, like wines are supposed to be. Now sometimes that fruit is a bit much for my old, jaded palate but for the average wines drinker I can’t think of better wines, especially when you also consider the price. 
 
Yes, these are great values. for a number of reasons, and while I may often say that a particular wine is a great value wine, many of these portuguese wines are simply great wines that happen to be great values. Take your pick of any of the  top three wines here and compare them wines twice the price. I think you’ll find little qualitative difference. And as far as values go, take that Grao Vasco and compare it with any other $7 wine, I don’t think that you’ll find one that is better.
 
I’ve written about my love for these wines before, and I shall write about it again but it’s all for naught unless someone out there reads what i’ve written and tries a few of these wines. You may not be as convinced as I am, though if your palate was honed on Italian or Spanish wines from the 1980s I wager that you just might be. So take my challenge and try the great red values of portugal, then let me know what you think. Maybe next time I’m writing about these wines I can recommend the wines that you all will recommend to me!