Portugal is rapidly becoming one of the rising value stars of European wine - even as the dollar suffers like plonk against the Euro. And the Alentejo region, whose vast hot plains have long been Portugal's breadbasket and source of its corks, is quickly becoming the region to watch. Exciting large-scale wineries like Cortes de Cima are part of the reason, turning out wines that lend a fruit-forward, New World accessibility to the earthiness of the classic Iberian style.

Cortes' Danish owner, Hans Jorgensen, was among the first to plant syrah here, a practice that has grown increasingly popular in the last decade. Blended with native grapes like aragonez (a.k.a. tempranillo), and trincadeira, it produces a wine that is lusciously deep and complex, with dark, plummy fruit framed with good woody tannins, a whiff of fennel and bright acidity. A great food wine, that also drinks well on its own.

20080224_inq_mgdrink24z-a

Cortes de Cima 2002 is available in selected Pennsylvania wine stores for $19.99.

- Craig LaBan