“Some make wines, while others make history.”
Challenge your palate and your senses with Portuguese wines. Portuguese wines have a way of creating memories and unforgettable experiences. A region that boasts over 250 indigenous varietals, many of which are only grown in Portugal. The wines are unique, expressive and bound to steal your heart and your palate.
Portuguese wines are making a huge splash on the global markets. It is one of the fastest growing regions for both wine and travel. It is a mysterious old region that somehow people relate to as the new frontier in wine, when in reality it is one of the oldest in the world. Portugal’s winemaking history dates back to 2000 years. Port and Madeira wines are world-renowned, but Portuguese dry wines are new to the market. In a short period of time Portuguese dry wines have become major power players in the wine world.
Portugal is a small country with huge historical significance. At one point in time it was one of the most powerful nation in the world. Now Portugal has something else to brag about, it has 250 indigenous grape varietals. The Portuguese are master blenders. The wines are typically blends of a few varietals, creating complex wines that are harmonious and balanced.
The many native varietals are the country’s national treasures. With 250 varieties, consumers have a hard time deciphering and sometimes pronouncing the grapes. Some key white grape varietals to keep in mind when purchasing Portuguese wines are Alvarinho, Arinto, Encruzado and Fernão Pires. The red grapes to take note of are Baga, Castelão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, and Trincadeira.
Portugal is a region of varying climates, terroir, and landscapes, producing wines that are distinct and unique from region to region. Some regions to look out for are Vinhos Verdes, Douro, Bairrada, Dão, Lisboa, Madeira, and Alentejo.
Portugal has huge diversity of soil types, its soils play a major role in the individual characteristics and personality of the wines. There is granite in north, clay and schist in the center and a dark bed of schist in the Douro Valley . Light sandy soils take over the Alentejo region.
The Atlantic Ocean has a huge influence on the climate of the entire region. The ocean influences bring fog, rain and salty winds. A country with hot scorching summers and cool winters play a big part in the structure of the wines.
I recently attended a grand tasting and master seminars at the Wines of Portugal Tasting in NYC. There Eugénio Jardim, the Wines of Portugal US Ambassador said “there are revolutionary improvements in technology in Portugal. There is a fine balance of modernity and rustic old world charm that is present throughout Portugal.” The new world approach to winemaking has attracted many female winemakers to the region. A good mix of winemakers are women who are bringing new vision and direction to winemaking in Portugal.
The quality of wines from Portugal is unparalleled. US consumers love Portuguese wines. The number of Portuguese wines consumed in the US continues to rise. I have experienced first hand the quality of the wines on my recent visit to Portugal, but don’t take my word for it, Jancis Robinson from 1999 to 2012 has ranked Portugal #1 for consistently producing high quality wines. Wine Spectator recently had Portuguese wines as its number 1, 3, and 4 Wine of The Year in 2014.
I had the opportunity to speak with Filipa Anunciacao from the Wines of Portugal, where we spoke about an upcoming wine category in Portugal, sparkling wine. Though still a small category, sparkling wine is developing and growing. The traditional region that is known for sparkling wine has been Bairrada, but today there is world-class sparkling wines being made in Dao and Douro.
Portuguese wine have great integrity and have a sense of place. It is an exciting region because of its extensive indigenous varietals. It has a phenomenal representation of styles; sparking, white, red, roses, sweet. What makes Portuguese wines especially appealing to consumers is the price to quality value proposition. It is a region that requires a bit more work to understand, but that is what makes wine fun. Drinking wine is all about exploration and discovery, and Portugal has so much to discover. So challenge your senses and ask for Portuguese wines when dining out or at your local retailer.
The following are five Portuguese gold medal winners that you need to try now. The wines represent the quality and diversity of the grapes, winemakers, and terroir of Portugal.
This Reserva is yellow-green in colour with aromas and flavours of flowers, minerals and various citrus fruits. This wine has excellent structure, acidity and ripeness. A very special and elegant wine that pairs well with cheese, pasta, white meats and fish dishes.
This wine has a bright ruby color and intense aromas of wild berries and spices, expressing in the mouth an austere profile with a velvety finish. Elegance and balance are the signature of their wines.
Made from a careful selection of grapes from Sousão obtained from the best vineyards from the Douro region, this wine presents a lovely and immediately seductive scent, with black fruit, exotic woods, sweet spices, and roasted cocoa. Creamy, textured, and deep with fine tannins and perfect acidity. It is austere with a long finish, a full-bodied Douro wine.
There are intense aromas with balsamic notes of resin, cedar, tobacco box and shrubby touches. Additional spicy notes of black pepper, clove and ginger integrate with undertones of cocoa and chocolate, courtesy of a good maturation. In the mouth, this wine has excellent volume and firm, powerful tannins. Its well-integrated acidity balances notes of resin and spices and invites a long finish of great persistence.