For years I suppose Portuguese wine was about Port and Mateus Rosé. I know that’s a little bit unfair, but I’m looking at it from the perspective of everyday drinkers. I’m also talking about the 80s and 90s too. When you think of it like that it’s a bit hard to argue against. But no more people, no more!
Well, I say no more. Port is still a massive deal, and I for one would love it to make a huge come back onto the shelves! And Mateus Rosé is making a comeback too. At its height in the 80s it shifted nearly 20 million bottles a year! Ok I’m not going to be going out my way to add to that figure, but it laid the foundations for getting Portugal on the table wine map.
Well EU investment over the past 20 years has really started to take hold. Areas of Portugal are becoming wine regions of great fame across the pages of glossy wine geek magazines. Don’t worry if you’ve not heard of them yet, you will.
It’s a bit like Italy in the way that the range of wine grapes can be confusing. In the red corner, for me anyway, Touriga Nacional is the star, but most reds tend to be blends. From the South and inland, in particular, expect big fruit, and lingering finishes. As well as the famous Douro Valley (where the Port comes from!), check out wines from Dão, Barraida, Lisboa, and Alentejo.
In the white corner it’s not a simple as just the light and fizzy whites from Vinho Verde. The grape that goes into most wines from Vinho Verde is called Alvarinho in Portugal. At the ABS tasting I got a chance to try a fuller style, and it really is the kind of fresh wine that reminds you of holidays. And let’s be fair, we all love that.
Next time you see the “Wine Of Portugal” label remember it’s an increasing sign of quality. Give it a go!