With more than 250 indigenous grapes, there’s a wine for every occasion
In partnership with Wines of Portugal, we are dedicating the month of June to this beautiful wine country. Home to the worldwide-renowned Porto wine and Madeira (fortified wines), there is more to Portugal than just the ‘sweet stuff.
Portugal sits on the Southwest side of Europe and is the ‘Europe’s Garden’, as they like it to be known. With vineyards from North to South, East to West and with a great influence from the Atlantic Ocean, the terroir here is extremely diverse and benefits from many microclimates.
Wine is very much intrinsic in the ‘Portuguese lifestyle’ and it is enjoyed at meal times with family, out in restaurants with friends, or even as part of important business lunches. Portuguese cuisine is extremely rich and varied, ranging from fresh seafood, to meaty stews and even a mixture of both. With more than 250 indigenous grapes, there’s a wine for every occasion.
Situated northwest of the country and sharing border with Galicia, Spain, this is one of the biggest DOC of the country. The region, as the name may give away, is extremely green and and its climate is cool and wet which makes the ripening of the grapes extremely hard but with the right techniques on the vineyards, the grapes keep their high acidity that is so characteristic of the region. There’s usually a river nearby each vineyard which in junction with the fertile granite soils, produce some outstanding wines.
The region is divided into a further nine regions to the DOC and the most common and popular grapes here are the renown Alvarinho, Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto (Pedernã) and Avesso.
One of the characteristics of this wine is its lower alcohol (usually around the 11.5%), light-bodied and at times with a slight spritz to it.
Recommended wines: (Quinta de Azevedo, Quinta do Soalheiro) Quinta da Raza, Picouto de Cima, Nat’Cool Branco.
Possibly the better known region of them all! Famous for its Porto wines, there are in fact, some outstanding still wines, reds and whites, being made here. The DOC is divided into 3 sub-regions, BaixoCorgo, CimaCorgo and Douro Superior. BaixoCorgo is the most fertile with a cooler climate and therefore, the region with most vineyards. CimaCorgo sits to the right of BaixoCorgo and is the motherland of Port production, however, many unfortified wines are now being produced here and are pretty outstanding too.
The Douro Superior is a total different monster compared to the other two, as the winters here are extremely cold and in contrast, summers are a scorcher. It’s the largest of the 3 sub-regions, yet it is the one with fewer vineyards, however, as we all know, the vines that suffer the most are the ones that produce some of the most iconic wines and this is no different in here.
Douro is the wildest and most deserted region in Portugal as it sits in the interior of the country, sharing border with Spain. The landscape here defies gravity with its steep slopes and twisted corners, all along the Douro River. This region was demarcated in 1756 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Some of the most international names of wine making have vineyards here and you have guessed it, we sell them. Check out our Niepoort range, Casa Ferreirinha and many more.
Recommended wines: (NiepoortRedomaReserva, Bioma Tinto, Bastardo, Casa FerreirinhaVinha Grande)Niepoort Drink Me Branco, Tiara, Portugal Boutique Winery Boina, Quinta de la Rosa.
Alentejo is, in my view, the most underrated wine region of Portugal, loved by the Portuguese but not very well-known outside of Portugal. With a marvellous landscape of olive trees, pine trees, fields upon fields of vineyards and a rugged coast line of high cliffs and wavy ocean, in here you can enjoy the sunsets whilst breathing in the salty air from the ocean and appreciate the ‘slower’ way of living.
It’s the largest area of the country and there’s a style of wine for everyone, from the quaffable easy drinking wine to the refined, complex and ageing worth fine wines. Red wines are the more popular in this region due to its hot weather, but areas like the São Mamede mountains, due to its cooler temperatures and higher rainfall, are extremely sought after to plant white grapes giving the wines a desired freshness and vibrancy. The region is versatile but its what the winemakers do with it in their cellars that will make all the difference. Look at what *Herdade da Malhadinha, FitaPreta and Susana Esteban are doing and explore the wines of Alentejo knowing you are experiencing an outstanding quality vs price wine. Popular grape varietals here are the AntãoVaz, Arinto, Roupeiro, Diagalves, Rabo de Ovelha for the whites, and for the reds, Aragonez (also known as Temperanillo), Alicante-Bouschet, Alfrocheiro, Castelão and Trincadeira.
Recommended wines: (*Monte da Peceguina)Susana Esteban, Fitapreta.
Food and Wine Pairing
Classic Portuguese food and wine pairings are...
Anything bacalhau - Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande Seafood platter - Soalheiro Alvarinho Octopus salad- Quinta Azevedo
Chourico, bread, cheese, wine - Monte da Peceguina Cozido à Portuguesa - Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande Rojões à moda do Minho - Bioma Tinto Niepoort
We hope you like our wine selections
It can be daunting to memorise what style of wines you like from Portugal, there are so many grape varietals, native and non-native, some grapes have different names in different parts of the country and most likely you will find a blended wine rather than a single-grape varietal, Portuguese winemakers are absolute masters of blending wines, so don’t be discourage, talk to us and let us know what you like in wine and we will help you finding your perfect pairing.
In a nutshell, we love this country, not to mention its wines and scenic views. With such diverse terroir and unique wines we are truly onto something good here, so grab a glass of your favourite tipple so you can eagerly wait for that summer holiday that we have all been longing for.
Day 3 began with a few sore heads from the night before, luckily the beds in the Dr Loosen guest house are extremely comfortable and a freshly cooked breakfast went down a treat. Next stop Jean Stodden Winery and Donnhoff.
I was fortunate enough to be invited on the recent Masters of Riesling trip by renowned German importer 'ABS Agencies' this past June. This trip involved visiting some of the most prestigious German wineries across the country over four wine filled days, sounds fun right.
The 2021 Bordeaux vintage is being hailed as the 'Miracle Vintage' by some winemakers: between late frosts and a cool, damp summer, it was a difficult vintage, and grape yields were significantly reduced compared to recent years.