Few weeks back we had the Wines of Portugal trade tasting here in London. Yours truly got asked very kindly to do a bit of tasting and judging on behalf of the organisers. Myself and fellow UK wine-o’s Helena Nicklin (The Winebird) and David Kermode (Mr Vinosaurus) floated around from table to table and tasted the wares of the exhibitors. Not bad for a day’s work!
Some of the top end wines were seriously top end, but the producers are clearly still very wary of how you and me see “Portuguese Wines”. Does the shadow of Mateus Rosé and thin & weak Vinho Verde still hang that heavy? Or is it that they use so many of their own country’s grapes that we can’t spell or pronounce, so Tinta Cão or Trincadeira rather than the Merlots or Syrahs of this world? Either way, it’d be a big shame for us to miss out.
In a world where the difference between some wine making countries is whether their Chardonnay is oaked or not, it’s refreshing for a wine geek to have Portugal’s 28 distinct styles (DOCs), and multitudes of individual grapes to have a pop at. Red wines from the likes of Alfrocheiro, white wines from the likes of Encruzado. Where have these been all my life?
Right now they’re in one or two places at the most; independents with a lot of line items, and specialists online. But hey, at least we can get them. And for every one else? Well just keep plugging away with those supermarket own brands. That Taste The Difference Douro at Sainsbury’s or the Quinta De Azevedo Vinho Verde at Waitrose are absolutely spanking for that price.
I did nearly finish by saying “great value for money”, but as I said, for the wine geeks out there, Portugal offers so much more than that. Just keep your eye out.
For a full list of my favourite wines, please visit the Wines of Portugal website, and for details of where to get hold of them too.