A Smooth Red with a Rough and Tumble Name

Paxis
Red Blend, 2016
12.5 percent alcohol content
Lisboa, Portugal, $12.99/$9.99

Paxis Red Blend is a very good, medium-body wine with a name and label inspired by a physical, occasionally violent British children’s game.

It’s a wine with lots of cherry, raspberry and spice flavors and aromas that make it good for drinking on its own or with meats, stews and barbecue.

DFJ Vinhos, one of the largest and most prestigious producers in Portugal, makes the wine under the direction of the company’s owner and award-winning winemaker Jose Neiva Correia. Along with the founding partners, Correia built DFJ almost two decades ago on the principle of making high-quality wines and pricing them competitively.

“When I am asked to define my wines, I usually say that if I were a car manufacturer, my aim would be to produce Mercedes at the price of Volkswagens and, eventually, (the Czech Republic’s very cool) Skodas,” Correia said in a 2007 interview with ApcAdim, a Portuguese wine publication.

Correia was born in 1949 and raised in the wine business by parents who were both winemakers. In addition to working in Portugal, where he received a degree in agricultural engineering, he also was trained in Bordeaux and in Germany. By 1998, he had established his reputation as a top winemaker and was working as a consultant with a number of companies, including D&F Wine Shippers, the biggest importer of Portuguese wines in the United Kingdom.

That year, he became a partner in D&F with Dino Ventura and Faust Ferraz. They added the “J” for Jose, and DFJ Vinhos was born.

In 2005, after Ventura died, Correia bought out Ferraz and became the sole proprietor.

Correia is known for taking an innovative approach to wine, creating award-winning blends from unusual and little-known grapes. He also has developed methods for improving production and preserving the quality of wines. For example, he invented and patented an ozone cork disinfection method, which he later sold, that decreased cork taint and helped prevent the musty smell that affects some wines.

Although the Paxis line of reds, whites and rosé wines uses a screw top, Correia believes finer wines that may be cellared for years should always have a natural cork. Screw tops are for wines that are ready to drink young, like the Paxis line, he said in the interview.

To make Paxis Red Blend, Correia blends juice from three grapes that are prominent in the making of port: 34% Touriga Nacional, and 33% each of Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. The result is a very smooth, easy-drinking wine that’s good in every season. I’ve also tried the Paxis White Blend, which I like a lot.

The Paxis name is a bit of a dichotomy. On one hand, the name and the relaxed bulldog on the label suggest peace, tranquility and an escape from the stress of the world. On the other, the name is drawn from British Bulldog, a schoolyard game that in some versions involves tackling and makes rugby and American football look almost sane.

Allegedly, Ventura, who was considered a master of marketing, came up with the name while watching British children play Bulldog, according to the company’s website and the bottle’s label.

Bulldog, which is a forerunner of Red Rover, is played in a defined area on a field or in a section of a gym. There are out-of-bounds lines on the sides and safe zones at each end of the rectangular area. Initially, one person, the bulldog, stands in a ring in the center of the playing field. The rest of the players, perhaps 20 or more, stand on one end in the safe zone. When the bulldog signals the start, all the other players run as fast as they can toward the opposite safe end. The object is not to get caught, tagged or tackled by the bulldog. When a player is caught, that player becomes an additional bulldog. Eventually, there are more bulldogs than runners, and the last runner to make it safely through the throng of bulldogs wins.

I watched a video of what looked like college-aged, fit men, playing a tackle version. It was brutal.

Presumably, Ventura saw youngsters playing a tamer game of tag, and when the runners reached the safe zone, they would yell “Paxis” to proclaim they were safe.

The Paxis wines are easy to find and are great bargains. Check them out.

Suggestions of wines in the $10 range are always appreciated. Warren Johnston can be reached at raiseyourglassofwine@gmail.com.

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