Europe might be the home of old world wines but as the budding scene in Portugal shows, there are still as-of-yet undiscovered regions and varieties just across the Channel.
Portugal has an incredible wine scene with fresh young whites and robust, full-bodied reds in grape varieties which are often unique to the Portuguese terroir. Thanks to the country’s diverse geography and climatic differences, coupled with the 200 plus indigenous grapes, many of these delightful wines are still unknown to the wider British public - meaning you can discover some truly outstanding bottles at accessible prices.
Crisp Young Whites
Grown in the cool lush hills of Portugal’s north-west, the country’s fresh white wines are usually fizzing with acidity and youth. Called Vinho Verde – which translates as young green wine – you can expect some exceptional dry and aromatic vintages.
For fuller-bodied and rich whites look no further than the sun-drenched vineyards, bathed in Portugal’s hot summer weather. Here wines from the Alentejo have intense, mineral palates, similar to the whites from the Douro and Trás-os-Montes in the north east.
While known for its sumptuous rich fruity reds, Portugal also boasts some lighter, tangy wines hailing from vineyards along the country’s Atlantic coast. These same producers are behind the Vinho Verde white wines but it’s a well kept secret that about 40% of Vinho Verde is in fact red. These reds pair well with the rich meats, offal and charcuterie that is popular with the locals.
Of course Portugal’s rich reds are well-loved for a reason and you can discover some Alentejo reds made from a variable blend of grape varieties, including Trincadeira and Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet and Syrah or Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon. While these wines may be full-bodied they offer a wonderful easy-drinking charm.
Reds from the Douro Valley tend to be more robust. These are big, serious wines which, while young, are quite tannic but age into a decided elegance. Look out for Trás-os-Montes wines, grown north of the Douro Valley as well as those from Bairrada, which, in hot vintages will mature to a softer, complex, savoury, malty wines. You can also find brilliant fragrant sparkling wines from Bairrada.
Those looking for a touch of elegance in their reds should seek wines grown in Dão where the altitude is high and the climate cool, allowing for a slow and subtle ripening. North of Dão in Távora-Varosa the exceptional fizzy wine is made from Malvasia Fina.
Discover Wine of Portugal at LWW
However you approach Portuguese wines, whether looking for an alternative sparkling, a light white or a big red, there is so much variety and flavour waiting to be discovered you’ll be sure to find something new and exciting.
Wines of Portugal are popping up all week London Wine Week in Devonshire Square with their Discovery Bar – promising to bring a little piece of the sunny Med to our LWW home.
See details of the pop-up here.