How different climates and terroirs reflect on the wonderful wines produced in Portugal
The Douro region dates back to 1756 and is the oldest wine region in the world, its enchanted valleys, and landscapes are simply beautiful and magical.
The main ambassador of the Portuguese wines was born in the Douro region and is, of course, the well-known Port Wine. But this wine is not all this region has to offer, as its variety of table wines are also worldwide equally appreciated like the Dirk Niepoort’s stunning Redoma Branco (which comes in both regular and reserve bottlings), fashioned from ancient vines in cooler microclimates at the top of the slopes.
Located in the mountainous and temperate climate Centre Region of the country, in the area of the Rio Mondego and Dão rivers.
The area is home to several dozen different indigenous grapes and offers a variety of aromatic, balanced, and fruity white wines as well as full-bodied, aromatic, and complex red wines.
Dão reds have changed beyond all recognition over the last decade. Until 1990 production was dominated by underperforming cooperatives and the resulting wines were usually tough, tannic, and unlovely. Since then there has been a massive improvement, and while there’s still some mediocre wine made here, the overall standard has been raised. Like Bairrada, though, the fragmentation of vineyard holdings has been a hindrance to progress.
This region is the largest Vinho Verde (Green Wine) region in Portugal that produces around 85 million liters of Vinho Verde every year and has a large variety of grapes such as Avesso, Azal, Alvarinho, Arinto, Loureiro, and Trajadura.
For the Green Wine enthusiasts, there is a lot to discover in the scenic landscape, and flavors within the secrets of Vinho Verde production.
At an altitude of 500 to 800 meters above sea level, its unique climate and soil conditions, with mostly granitic soils, poor in limestone, sometimes schist and acid, with marked erosion, make this region to be special for the production of sparkling wines.
Tejo is a wine region in central Portugal just inland from the major city of Lisbon which covers the same area as the Ribatejo province. The entire region may use the Tejo VR (Vinho Regional) designation.
This region is warm, dry and it is also Portugal’s only landlocked region – although its terroir is greatly influenced by the Tejo river.
In this region, we can find three distinct production areas: Charneca, Bairro, and Campo. Charneca is located on the left riverside of the Tagus river, with sandy and fertile soils.
Bairro is located between Vale do Tejo and Porto de Mós, with clay-limestone soils, the ideal terroir for the red grape varieties.
Campo is in the adjoining vast plains of the Tagus river and it is an excellent area for the production of white wines.
The legislation allows for the plantation of several national and international grape varieties in this region. Therefore, the traditional white grape varieties, such as Arinto, Fernão Pires, Tália, Trincadeira das Pratas and Vital are added to the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Regarding the traditional red grape varieties, those added are the Castelão and Trincadeira, the Aragonez, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
Across a wide range of altitudes, you can see vineyards and their vast wine variety. At the lowest altitudes, you will find the full-bodies wines while at the highest altitudes the light-bodied ones.
The semi-sweet sparkling rose wine produced here was one of its first wines to be internationally recognized in 1989. The grapes retain good acidity and fruity flavors which are perfect for the production of sparkling wines.
Due to its proximity to the sea, mild rainy winters, and hot summers giving it great thermal amplitude at times reaching temperature differences of up to 20ºC, it makes the perfect condition to maintain the grape’s acidity while giving freshness to most of the wines produced during the ripening period.
The most popular wines here are made from Baga and Bical.
Baga in the red wines, densely structured, complex, blackberry-fruited, and aromatic, with marked acidity.
Bical, in the white wines giving it lowery-aromatic examples to wines with mineral and citrus, that are often unoaked, and can be capable of aging to creamy, intense complexity.
In a constant discovery of new flavors and aromas, this region produces a range of white, red, and rose wines, as well as natural sparkling wines of great quality due to its vast variety of grapes.
Beira Interior presents itself as a region of excellence and quality for the production of great wines.
Lisbon is Portugal’s second-largest wine-producing region by volume, after the Douro and it was known as Estremadura until 2008.
The vines established along the coastline suffer from a strong and decisive Atlantic influence, while the vines established inland, protected from the maritime influence by the various mountains, benefit from a transitional Mediterranean climate.
It was the Phoenicians and the Greeks who brought the grapevine varieties to this region from the Near East. Believing the climate amenable and the slopes of the Arrábida as well as the riparian zone of the Tagus to be propitious for the cultivation of the vine.
The dessert wine of Setúbal is made of the varieties Moscatel and Moscatel Roxo, and it is one of the oldest and most famous wines in the world and making this region a leading role in the history of Portuguese wines.