Manufacture of wines in Portugal has over a thousand years of tradtion. Portugal entered the European wine markets in recent years in style. It boasts legendary sweet wines, such as porto or madeira, but in store there is a lot more. The country is divided into many regions designated for producing wine, differing not only in cultivated grape varieties but also in terms of climate, topography and type of soil. Portugal is the home of natural cork. It allows us to delight with unique bouquet and taste of even very mature wines, that do not lose any of their peculiarities, even after many years of aging in dark cellars.
In recent years, this country has entered the European wine market in a wonderful fashion. Portugal prides itself in its legendary sweet wines, such as Porto or Madera, but it can offer much more than that. It is a country growing one of the highest number of local grape varieties in the world. Its production is based on native strains used in various combinations, producing wines of high quality. Wine production in Portugal is a tradition going back over a thousand years.
The country is divided in many designated wine regions, differing not only in cultivated grape varieties, but also climate, topography and soil type.
For a long time, this country has been associated mostly with sweet fortified wines but today Portugal can offer a wide range of wines. Depending on the region or the skill of the producer, Portuguese wines are characterized by an unlimited combination of aromas and flavours, providing consumers with unforgettable experiences.
Winemakers have taken precautions against the fashion for international strains, so they would not replace the valuable, local ones, such as tinta roriz, touriga nacional, femao pires and arinto.
Let us look at some regions of Portugal.
Porto/Douro – here the legendary sweet fortified wines are made. The wines mature in the city of Porto, whereas the vineyards are situated in the beautiful valley of the River Douro (which also produces excellent dry wines based on the same strains). In Porto, we will find many types of this exquisite wine – with shorter or much longer ageing period, blends and varietals. Fans of this style of wine will have a lot of fun here.
Madera – this island gives birth to another renowned fortified Portuguese wine. It is made on the basis of rare, local strains (which also give name to the style of wine) – malmsey, bual, verdelho, sercial, terrantez. After fermentation and the addition of alcohol, the wine is then subjected to a special ageing process, in rooms heated to 40-50 degrees Celsius. Madera is a wine of great ageing potential.
Estramadura/Lisbon – this vast region (50 thousand hectares of vineyards) encompasses the area of the state capital – Lisbon. A lot of wine is produced here – the capital and the tourists visiting it have their needs… Not very far from Lisbon, two tiny but interesting appellations were formed – Bucelas and Colares. In those areas, the emphasis is put on local strains and their list is impressive, e.g. alfrocherio preto, antao vaz, arinto, baga, bastardo, borrado das moscas, esgana cao, fernao pires, tamarez, tinta amarela and many, many more.
Other appellations are: Vinho Verde, Dão, Bairrada, Ribatejo, Setúbal, Alentejo, Algarve.
Table wines in Portugal are called vinho do mesa, quality wines are labelled DOC.
Portugal is the homeland of natural cork. With its vast cork oak plantations, covering about 22% of the country’s area, Portugal is the biggest cork manufacturer in the world. It is here that the evergreen trees found their place, reaching 10-12 meters of height and producing the best quality bark, considered a precious resource since the prehistoric ages. It allows us to enjoy a unique flavour and taste of even very mature wines on a daily basis, losing nothing of their character even after many years of barrelling in darkened cellars.