The history of Portuguese wine goes back some 4,000 years to the ancient Phoenicians seafarers who established colonies across the Mediterranean and planted vines along the way. Yet the world is only now discovering the wines of Portugal, which have been through revolutionary changes in just the past three decades. The best Portuguese wines are emerging in world markets as carefully crafted and delicious wines, typically at tremendous value for the quality.
Portuguese wines have since continued to update their image, stepping forward as serious competitors in the international wine market. Great strides were made after Portugal joined the European Economic Community (the forerunner of the European Union) in 1986. Portuguese winemaking regulations and quality guidelines were brought into line with those of other European countries. Investments were made to modernize vineyards and educate a new generation of winemakers.
The rich history of Portugal is firmly intertwined with its wines, especially its most famous wine, Port. From the ancient cities of Lisbon and Porto to small medieval towns and Roman ruins, the past is still alive today in modern Portugal. A vacation to the land where Port wines were born is a unique way to experience Old World culture, great weather, beautiful countryside and of course, delightful wines.
Although Portugal’s wine history dates back to the Romans, it was not until the early nineteenth century that the wine we know today as Port came into existence. Portugal’s table wine had already been in high demand since the mid-seventeenth century, primarily by the British. To make rustic Portuguese wines more stable and palatable, small amounts of brandy were added to barrels of wine before shipment. Eventually British companies began investing in the area and perfected the process of adding brandy during fermentation, rather than after it, which preserved the distinctive fruity red wine flavors that were unique to Portugal’s Douro Valley region.
In recent years something of a small revolution has occurred in the Douro region in terms of developing modern-style dry red and white wines, alongside the highly traditional production of Port wines. Table wines continue to play an important role as well. Increased investment, improved vinicultural techniques, and modernization of the industry are yielding exciting results.
What is unique about Portugal is the very large number (upwards of 500) of indigenous grape varietals. Even most wine experts are unfamiliar with the grapes that produce Port, Madeira or any other Portuguese wine. Older vineyards are planted with multiple grape varietals and as a result, sometimes these field blends are so diverse that identifying all of the grapes is impossible. When new vineyards are created, single plantings are now the norm. As modernization continues, Portugal is proving that in spite of a long history of contributions, it still has undiscovered potential.
Throughout all my years in retail, I have always brought my customers to the Portuguese wines for exceptional value and quality!
Here are some of our suggestions from this prestigious wine area:
Bridão Private Collection Red 2016 - $16.99 -
Ruby colored. Aroma is intense and with good complexity, with red fruits, jam and chocolate. Flavor is intense, fruity and fresh, well-structured and with round and sweet tannins. Harmonious and persistent finish. Great to accompany intense flavored dishes, especially meats. It should be served at 15ºC. This blend of Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouschet has ripe berry flavors and an easy appeal. There are tannins, but they are well integrated into a wine that is warm and ready to drink. 89pts WE
Cartuxa Evora Tinto Colheita 2015 - $19.99 –
This wine takes its name from the Carthusian monks, who since 1598 have lived a life of solitude and prayer in the Monastery of Santa Maria Scala Coeli. The reds are a blend of the Alentejo's most traditional grape varieties: Trincadeira, Aragonez, Alfrocheiro, Periquita, Moreto and Tinta Caiada. Aged in oak, the wines are elegant, with good structure, which combine the aromas of the grape varieties used and give a persistent and complex flavor. This ripe wine, packed with black fruits and rich tannins, is now mature. Its fruitiness has moved into the secondary phase, introducing spice, a soft, juicy structure and a smooth texture. Drink now. 90pts WE
Casa Santos Lima Colossal Reserva Red 2015 - $9.99 -
With an intense ruby color, this wine presents itself with a great concentration in the nose. Extremely rich aroma with predominance of red ripe fruits and some floral notes, well integrated with notes of spices coming from the aging in French and American oak barrels. In the mouth it shows great complexity with notes of plums and blackberries. The finish is rich and elegant. Plum and boysenberry notes weave together with dried herb and smoky mineral accents in this sleek red. Savory spice details chime in on the finish. Offers moderate, grippy tannins. Drink now through 2020. 90pts WS
Offley Tawny Port - $12.99 -
With an attractive red-tawny hue, typical of an older wine, Offley Tawny Porto has a delicate aroma reminiscent of ripe red fruit and enhanced by dry fruit notes that provide it with an added complexity. In the mouth, there is a fine balance between soft tannins and natural sweetness which combine harmoniously towards an elegant and fine finish. A very versatile and attractive wine, ideal with traditional desserts, from crème caramel to apple, almond and cream tarts. Served chilled it is an excellent aperitif and goes well with some salted starters. A very versatile and attractive wine, ideal with traditional desserts, from crème caramel to apple, almond and cream tarts.
So, hurry down to NJWINESELLER and ask about our wines from this prestigious region! Cheers!!
Written By: Ray