Sometimes what you’re looking for is right under your nose. From the light, crisp spritz of a vinho verde to an elegant, oak-kissed white, and finely ripened reds to lip-smacking, juicy blends that welcome you with open arms – Portugal has it all.
“As well as a go-to summer holiday destination, Portugal is finally getting the credit it deserves as a wine lovers’ treasure trove, and fruit-filled, authentic Portuguese wine can compete with anywhere in the world,” says Ewan Murray, PR manager, The Wine Society.
“The unique flavours that are the hallmark of Portugal’s indigenous grape varieties have become its trump card – good news for those looking for a change from better-known international varieties,” Murray adds.
The Society’s Vinho Verde 2018, with its zesty, lemon-lime flavours, and Carlos Lucas Ribeiro Santo Dão 2017 (£7.95) with its plush, herb scented cherry fruit come highly recommended.
And while the country is best known for port of course, thanks to a huge investment in vineyards and wineries and a rise in tourism away from the Algarve, people are discovering how fabulous the wines are too.
As Sophia Bergqvist, Quinta de la Rosa owner, points out: “Some of the best quality wine regions (especially the Douro) have only been making wine from port grapes in a commercial way since the early-1990s. So we’ve had less than 30 vintages!
“La Rosa was one of the first to start making wines in the Douro in 1990/91. In those days, it was impossible to find any winemakers with experience of making wine (rather than port) in the Douro. Now there are many wine makers and they continue to be amazingly good value – even at the higher price level,” says Bergqvist.
“People are less worried about all the confusing grape varieties and we offer some unique, extremely interesting wines. The Douro white wines have incredible freshness and acidity, given the heat of the Douro,” she adds.
Try her Quinta de la Rosa, La Rosa Reserve Branco 2017, Douro ( Berry Bros & Rudd), which artfully combines exotic white fruits, a creamy note, well integrated oak and fine acidity.
And for red wine lovers, Quinta de la Rosa, Estate Tinto 2017, Douro ( Berry Bros & Rudd), which offers flourishes of rich aromas and an impressive forest floor of ripe black fruit framed by refined tannins.
From another dynamic producer, Symington Family Estates Altano Organic Douro 2017 is from the largest organic vineyard in northern Portugal and made from native grape varieties: Touriga nacional, touriga franca and tinta roriz.
“Offering a point of difference to the mass-produced international varieties such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, etc,” says winemaker Anthony Symington. “The style of wine is very drinkable with lovely juicy dark fruit and silky tannins, perfect for food. What’s more, all grapes in the Douro Valley are still harvested by hand, making this a true craft product and a labour of love.”
And with value and quality driving its growth, Jehan Sacaze, buyer, Laithwaite’s, thinks Portugal has plenty more to give.
“Portuguese wines have become very popular, with Aluado Alicante Bouschet 2017, Vinho Regional de Lisboa often elected best wine in show within our consumer events. A lot of investment has been put into wineries in recent years, leading to great quality wines across vintages,” says Sacaze.
Elsewhere, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Portuguese Alvarinho 2018 is another great summer white; deliciously refreshing with floral aromas and citrusy notes to pair beautifully with grilled fish.
While robust reds such as Quinta de Fafide Estate Reserva, Douro 2016 (Marks & Spencer stores) is made with traditional port grape varieties and an excellent match for roasted red meats or cheese, suggests Sue Daniels, winemaker, Marks & Spencer.
If you’re an adventurous white wine lover and want to explore the the obscure Jampal grape, try Manz Dona Fátima Jampal 2017, Lisbon, Portugal. On a par with a good chardonnay, it’s very attractive and fresh with inviting vanilla aromas, an alluring fruity character with hints of butter and toast, with good acidity livening the finish.
- Press Association