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The wines of  DFJ Vinhos, Portugal

UK head office: D&F Wineshippers, Centre House, St Leonards Road, London NW10 6ST
Tel: 020 8838 4399 Fax: 020 8838 4500

DFJ Vinhos is the market leader of Portuguese wines in the UK. Founded in 1998, it’s the result of a collaboration between commercial director Dino Ventura, administrative and financial director Faustino Ferraz, and high-profile winemaker José Neiva (hence ‘DFJ’). Head office is Quinta da Fonte Bela, located near Cartaxo in the Ribatejo region. The company specializes in wines from central Portuguese wine regions of Estremadura and Ribatejo (although other regions also feature in their portfolio), and total production is around 7.5 million litres a year.

The wines are commercially astute, hitting the right price points and delivering the right sorts of accessible, fruity flavours that guarantee broad appeal. Credit to DFJ for generally sticking to Portuguese grape varieties and managing to keep the wines distinctively Portuguese even though they are in a very modern style. My only reservation is that the winemaking imprint – with the use of techniques such as enzyme-assisted maceration – is strong, to the extent that many of the red wines taste extremely similar. This modern approach works superbly with the whites, though, which are full of interest. 

The range is huge, numbering some 40 different lines, not all of which are yet available from UK retailers. Those reviewed here have retail price marked in brackets, and UK suppliers where this information is currently available. 

DFJ Grande Arte Alvarinho 2001, Estremadura
This is a lovely white wine. Very lively aromatic nose with a spicy, floral edge and a touch of estery character. Quite a rich-textured palate with good acid and apple and pear fruit. Modern and fruity, in quite a rich style. Very good+ (£5.49) 07/02

DFJ Segada Branco 2001 Ribatejo
A varietal Fernão Pires. Lovely full flavoured fruity white with a slightly smoky edge to the apple and lemon fruit. Lots of nutty savoury character here and even a touch of minerality. In a modern style but full of flavour. Very good/excellent (£3.99 CWS Group, Oddbins) 08/02

DFJ Grande Arte Merlot 2001, Estremadura
Vibrant red/purple colour. Leafy blackcurrant fruit dominates the nose with some chocolatey richness. Soft, quite lush textured palate displays ripe, almost sweet juicy berry fruit with a warm spicy finish. A modern-styled commercially adept wine that veers towards the new world in style. Good concentration and acidty, but a tiny bit anonymous? Very good+ (£5.99) 07/02

DFJ Portada Castelão/Tinta Roriz 2001, Estremadura
The nose shows bright cherry and raspberry fruit. Fruity and juicy palate with good acidity and an accessible sweetness to the berry fruit. An attractive commercial style. Good/very good (£3.99 EH Booth, Somerfield, Unwins) 07/02

DFJ Grande Arte Trincadeira 2000, Ribatejo
Concentrated deep red colour. There’s a savoury twist to the sweet berry fruit nose, together with some vanilla notes. Substantial spicy palate has firm tannic structure and good acidity. This is a very forward, modern style with lots of spicy character. Structured and ripe with a polished, juicy character. Very good+ (£7.50) 07/02

Bela Fonte Touriga Franca/Tinta Roriz 2001, Beiras
Vivid red purple colour. Sweet, fruity, slight spicy nose of ripe raspberries. The palate shows a good concentration of accessible sweet cinnamon and vanilla-laced berry fruit with spicy tannins hiding underneath. Good acidity keeps things juicy and lively. Appealing. Very good (£5.49) 07/02

Bela Fonte Baga 2001, Beiras
Attractive open nose with herby, spicy fruit showing a rich chocolatey edge. The palate shows bright berry fruit with a distinctive sweet dusty, spicy character. Good acidity and some tannins providing structure. This is an attractive commercial wine but tastes just a little forced. Very good (£4.49 Oddbins, Tesco, EH Booth) 08/02

DFJ Tinta Roriz/Merlot 2000, Estremadura
There’s a strong herbal component to the berry fruit on the nose, which has some spicy richness. Quite a nicely balanced palate with smooth ripe fruit that displays a chocolatey spicy character. A tasty modern wine. Very good (£5.99) 09/02

Manta Preta Touriga Nacional/Tinta Roriz 1999 Estremadura
Quite a bright fruity nose showing cherry and berry fruit. The palate shows very high juicy acidity, which is perhaps a little overpowering, under the modern clean fruit. Some tannin. It’s a shame about the too-high acidity because the other components are good. Good/very good (£5.99 Waitrose) 10/02

Dom Ferraz Dão 2000
A blend of Touriga Nacional and Jaen, this is a midweight wine with smooth berry fruit. Juicy and fresh, but just a little simple, I’m reserving judgement on this because I suspect there’s some low level cork taint. (£4.99 Budgens, EH Booth, First Quench, Tesco, Wine Cellar) 08/02

DFJ Fonte do Beco Castelão 2000 Palmela
Bright red colour. The nose shows vivid berry fruit with a sweet edge and some tarry notes on the nose. The palate is rounded and intensely fruity with juicy berry fruit, good acidity and a touch of spiciness. Ripe and accessible but with enough acidity to keep things nicely savoury. Very good+ (£4.99) 08/02

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Article published October 2002; dates of tasting for wines indicated by month/year