Portugal the forgotten European Wine Producer

Portugal the forgotten European Wine Producer

We continue our series about Wines of the World.

In this post we are going to focus on the wonderfully colorful country of Portugal, which for many of us remains a real mystery, as many of us have not simply had the opportunity to visit.

When people speak of Portugal it is often referred to as the poor cousin of Spain, but we can tell you that it is anything but that.

When it comes to wine did you know that Portugal is one of the oldest demarcated  & regulated wine regions in the world and most of this started well before the French and the rest of the world jumped on the AOC, IGT, DOCG, VDP and what ever other TLA (Three Letter Acronym) I can find was implemented.

Portugal produces the most stunning array of diverse wines and these are quickly gaining international recognition.

Wine Spectator commented that “ Portugal has emerged from the shadows to become one of the most interesting & exciting red wine producing countries in the world”.

Gary Veynerchuk (who for those who do not know him is a self made wine expert with his own wine channel on YouTube) said “ Portugal is bringing the best dollar value play into the US wine market”

Portugal grows grape varieties that we have never heard of and produces as many wines that equally many of us have never heard of. But  I have been very fortunate to try and taste the odd bottle of Portuguese made wine despite these facts and I can tell you that they are simply great & represent stunning value for the quality that is produced.

I wanted to give you some insight into some of the more important/traditional Portuguese wine varieties as this will really challenge your imagination, these include:

  • Touriga Nacional
  • Trincaderia
  • Castile
  • Alvarinho
  • Alicante Bouschet
  • Touriga Franca
  • Tinta Roriz
  • Aragonez
  • Antao Vaz
  • Arinto
  • Baga
  • Loureiro
  • Fernao Pires & one you might just know a little better Cabernet Sauvignon

There are 13 distinct wines growing regions in Portugal extending from Vinio Verde in the north to Madeira in the South & each region has the ability to produce some truly unique wines. Here more than anywhere else I know the terrior really comes through as much as the microclimate in which the grapes are grown.

We have many favorite Portugese wines so we wanted to give you a small sample of what we have found and like.

From the stunning Alentejo region where we find endless hills, white houses, cork & olive trees comes Folha do Mejo wines, their grapes are all manually harvested and present big style drinking reds and whites & I mean big drinking as many of their wines come in at least 14%. So if you are looking for a full bodied wine then this is the place to come too.

We would recommend the following wines from this region to you but there are many more for you to discover so do not be limited by what we suggest here for you:

  • Cassa Brancas 2009
  • Casa Branca Red Reserva 2009
  • Pera Doce White Reserva 2010
  • Montaria White 2011
  • Montaria Red Reserva 2009

Next we move onto the Douro region, which is located a little further north, and inland. Here the mountains and valleys have played their part in shaping the wonderful wines from this region. The Douro Valley is better known for its production of some of the greatest Ports made in the world but there is much more to be found here.

We have discovered from here the delights of the Stravaganza DOC Red 2008, which is made from a combination of Touriga Franca & Tinta Roriz grapes. Another wine worth trying from this region is the Rio Deal DCOC Red 2010; both of these wines are not as large as those wines we found in the Alentejo region, drinking at just under 13%.

We now move to the Lisboa region, which is a little further south & east. Here we find probably the largest selection of DOC classified wines. The region is renowned for its many microclimates and as such produces some of the most widely recognized wines produced in Portugal.

Here we discovered the great wines Vale Zias with their full-bodied Vale Zias Red 2009 (13.7%), which is made from 100% Syrah and their Vale Zias Grande Escolhba (14.3%), which is made from 100% Cabernet sauvignon.

Not to be overshadowed by these big drinking reds you need to take the time to try Quinta do Gradil’s Sparkling Brut 2009. This wine is made from 100% Chardonnay e Arinto and shows the most stunning ruby color, this is an ideal wine for those long hot summer days ahead.

Finally in this post we head north again to the Dao Lafoes region, which is tightly sandwiched between several Portuguese wine growing regions. Here a great mate of our Peter Eckert has created his Qunita das Marias vineyard, you can see and taste his passion and love for his wines.

From Quinta das Marias we highly recommend their:

  • Quinta das Marias Reserva TT 2009
  • Quinta das Marias Encruzado 2010-Doa DOC
  • Quinta das Marias Encruzado Barracus 2010 – DOA DOC

(You can find more about these wines on our website so please visit http://www.decantethis.com to see more about the Quinta das Marias wines we have)

Peter is just finishing off his current harvest and just about to start his new vintage so we will keep you posted about what is able to produce.

In our next post on Portugal we will take you to the  stunning Vino Verde region and then move away south through the rest of Portugal.

Until  then Zum Wohl




Chief Wine Officer

Decante This