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Portugal’s wine history can be traced as far back as the 7th century BC. Artefacts recovered from ancient ruins indicates that the early Portuguese were already producing and consuming ... morewine. Portugal exported wine to Rome during the Roman Empire. After the signing of the Methuen Treaty in 1703, Portugal’s wine industry grew. In 1758, Portugal staked its claim as one of the first wine producing regions of the world when Regiao Demarcada do Douro was created in the Douro Valley.

Two of Portugal’s wine regions are protected by UNESCO. These are Douro Valley and the Pico Island wine regions. Presently, Portugal produces a wide variety of wine each with its own, unique expressions.

Douro Wine
Douro is internationally renowned for producing some of the world’s best wine with its own exclusive taste, flavor and color. Wine is very much a part of Douro’s tourism with tourists participating in grape harvests and wine tasting. Visitors are treated to special tastings of Port Wine, named after Porto. Douro is named after the River Douro which flows from the eastern Spanish border to the western Oporto region where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Although Douro is popular for its fortified wines, non-fortified table wine accounts for about half of total production.

Douro’s Viticulture
Douro is characterized by scenic slopes above the River Douro. Viticulturists have carved the slopes to create stepped beds to plant vines in Alto Douro, the Upper Douro Valley. Vines overlook the clear waters of the rivers flowing down below. Red, white, green and deep purple grapes grow between thick canopies of leaves. Grapes are harvested in September of every year and are used to produce a variety of Douro wines and Port wine.

The terroir is described as hard and rocky and high slate and granite content suitable for growing vines. Douro is isolated from Oporto mainly because of the rough, rocky terrain keeping it from architecture. This has preserved the perfect landscape of vineyards hanging high above rivers.

Douro is surrounded by the Serra de Alvã, Serra de Padrela and Serra de Bornes mountain ranges in the north and the Serra do Marão in the west. The mountain ranges helps protects the vineyards from the humid westerly winds synonymous with the Atlantic Ocean. Despite being Douro’s neighbor, the city of Oporto experiences radically different weather. The weather gets hotter ad drier upwards towards the Spanish border on the east. These dramatic differences in weather adds character to the grapes grown here.

Nearly two-thirds of Douro’s vineyards are planted on rocky hillsides. Viticulturists were faced with the challenge of creating stable, flat beds on which to plant vines. At one stage, dry stone walls were constructed and then filled with soil to create terraces on the slopes. Soil was excavated from the hillsides and the banks of the river and transported up the slopes to fill the terraces. The soil used to fill the terraces often consisted of fine soil and elements of schistose rocks.

As technology evolved so did viticulture in Douro. Stone walls are no longer constructed on the slopes. Instead slopes are cut into the hillsides using earthmoving equipment operated by skilled engineers. Where slopes exceed the 30% gradient, vines are planted in perpendicular rows laid out vertically upwards on the slopes. Viticulture in Portugal is a combination of art and science.

Enjoy Douro Wine with the following Dishes:
1. Bacalhau with chickpeas or battered Bacalhau,
2. Potatoes with salad,
3. Roasted baby goat with rice and potatoes,
4. Wild boar stew,
5. Posta mirandesa,
6. Cozido à portuguesa – a dish consisting of boiled meat, cabbages and sausages,
7. Partridge on a skewer,
8. Arroz de cabidela, or,
9. Feijoada à transmontana.

Wine Regions in Douro
Douro Valley is home to different grape varietals produced in the main wine regions. The three main wine areas in Douro are:
1. Baixo Corgo
2. Cima Corgo
3. Douro Superior

Baixo Corgo
Also known as the Lower Corgo, the Baixo wine region is located further west in Douro. Vineyards grown between Régua and Corgo, a tributary of the Douro River. It is far more fertile and cooler than other wine regions in Douro due its close proximity to the ocean. Wine produced here is lighter than other Douro wines and matures early. One example of Baixo Corgo wine is Ruby.

Cima Corgo
Cima Corgo is located in Pinhão, a small town in the heart of Douro. Two thirds of Douro’s wine are produced in Cima Corgo. This sub-region receives less than half (655mm) the rainfall the Baixo Corgo receives with summer temperatures rising over 40ºC. The ground is characterized by Schist stone underfoot which is best described as rock dust. About six rivers flow through the Cima Corgo, each has its own valley, and eventually merges with the Douro River. Vines here are stressed to the maximum resulting in grapes with wonderfully intense flavors. The quick changing microclimates within this region adds a variety of different notes to wine produced here.

Vines in Cima Corgo produce grapes with rich, intense flavors. Wines from these vines are deep and concentrated making it ideal for maturing which develops a rich, velvety smooth notes associated with perfectly aged wine or port. This region produces some of the best Quintas. In fact, Quinta de La Rosa is located on the banks of Douro River, close to Pinhão, continuing the legacy of this regions famous Quintas.

Douro Superior
East of Valeira and close to the Spanish border and with a reputation for being wild and isolated lies the Douro Superior. Summer temperatures exceed 40ºC and rain is rare. This area bears the brunt of nature’s fury often experiencing freezing winters and deadly, searing summers. Planting anything in this region is a challenge but viticulturists have managed to cover 17% of potential vineyard land with vines. The terroir consists of schist and granite soil making this a challenging environment for vines. Although grape crops are small, the powerful tannins and intense, concentrated flavors makes up for it.

Grape Varietals in Douro
Douro is home to vastly difference species of grapes with the principal grape varieties being:
• The black varietals: Bastardo, Mourisco Tinto, Tinto Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roroz, Touriga Francesa and Tourigo Nacional.
• The white grape varietals: Donzenlinho branco, Gouevio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho.

The Bergquist family purchased Quinta das Bandeiras, in the Douror Superior, in 2007 and formed a partnership with winemaker Jorge Moreria to produce aromatic, bold red and white wines under the name, Passagem.
Grapes - Blends:
Rare Red Blend, Port Red Blend, Portuguese Red Blend, Portuguese White Blend, Port Blend White, Others
Minho is Portugal’s northernmost wine region named after the River Minho which flows through the region not only provides water to the region, but also generates electricity. The River ... moreDouro flows past the Southern border of Minho. Wines produced here are known to be crisp, white and light. Located close to the Atlantic coast on the north, and close to Porto on the east, Minho is also the second largest city in Portugal and is revered as the home of Port.

The key white grape varietals used in Minho wines are Avesso, Alvarinho, Pederna (Arinto), Loureiro, and Trajadura. Red grape varietals include Alvarelhao, Espadeiro, Caino Tinto, and the worldwide favorite, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Minho's prime location close to the Atlantic blesses this region with cooler temperatures and rain – which other wine regions do not experience. Agriculture and viticulture are popular economic activities here. Minho’s nickname is Costa Verde, meaning lush, green countryside. Vineyards in Minha produce far more crops than vineyards in drier regions like Douro.
Grapes - Blends:
Rare Red Blend, Portuguese Red Blend, Portuguese White Blend, Albarino, Rare Rose Blend, Loureiro
Alentejo’s rich history includes once being home to the Phoenicians, Celts and Romans. With hilly, rugged landscapes, plains flat, green plains stretching as far as the eye can see ... moreand long, summer days, Alentejo is home to marshlands, wheat fields, cork plantations, beautiful, wild beaches and vineyards. Named after the River Tagus, Alentejo is home to key grape varietals grown in Alentejo includes Aragonez (Tempranillo), Castelao, Trincadeira. These three types of grapes are also combined to create a ripe, rich blend which reminiscent of homemade jam.

The most dominant vines are Alfrocheiro Preto, Abundante, Arinto, Antão Vaz, Alicante Bouschet, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Diagalves, Grand Noir, Fernão Pires, Manteudo, Moreto, Periquita, Palomino, Rabo de Ovelha, Tempranillo, and Trincadeira.

This region has a warm, dry climate with crystalline Borba soil best described as chalky, granite, schist, and brown and red Mediterranean soil. It is not the most fertile of soils but it presents vines with a challenge forcing them to dig deeper into the ground for nutrients resulting in grapes which produce wines with strong, aromatic flavors.

White wines produced here are mild and slightly acidic, with notes of tropical fruits. The full bodied red wines are rich in tannins with aromas of red berries and wild berries. Wines produced here have the unique advantage of being enjoyed while they are still young or after they’ve aged with distinction.
Grapes - Blends:
Rare Red Blend, Portuguese Red Blend, Portuguese White Blend, Rare White Blend
DAO
Located in the Beira Alta region, in Portugal’s center north, Dao has granite mountain ranges on three sides. The Serra da Estrella, Serra do Caramulo and Serra da Nave shields the ... moreregion from harsh, high temperatures helping it remain cool. Dao receives plenty of rainfall in winter with long, dry summer days just before grapes are harvested.

This region has some of the best soil from all of Portugal’s wine regions. The sandy soil which covers granite rock drains naturally. Winemaking became recognized in Dao when the royal aristocrat, João de Sacadura Botte Côrte-Real fought to have Dao declared a wine sub-region. The royal winemaker introduced modernized winemaking processes which helped raise the standard of Dao wine.

Vines grown here include Touriga Nacional, Jaen, Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro Preto and Encruzado. Red wine accounts for 80% of production. Touriga Nacional grapes are used in 20% of wine production. Some of the top reserve wines are labelled Dão Nobre meaning Noble Dão.

Red wines produced here have a high tannin structure because of prolonged maceration periods during the production process. Over the years winemakers have improved their winemaking processes to produce wine with a smoother tannin structure and more fruity notes.

White wines produced in Dao were known to be full-bodied and over oxidized. Improvements in winemaking has resulted in fragrant, fresh and fruity wines being produced.
Grapes - Blends:
Rare Red Blend, Portuguese Red Blend, Portuguese White Blend
Estremadura is Portugal’s largest wine producer by volume. Originally named Estremadura, this region was rechristened Estremadura – Lisboa in 2009 to avoid confusion with the Spanish ... morewine region Extremadura.

Located near Portugal’s Atlantic coast, this wine sub-region is also home to the country’s capital city, Lisbon. Despite being the largest wine producing region in the country wines produced here are often not labelled as Estremadura – Lisboa. Instead the local sub-regions are credited on the label. Popular sub-regions include Alenquer. Bucelas and Colares.

This regions ideal location on the coast means that it has a broad terroir. With the Serra de Montejunto hills running north from Lisbon and through its center, Lisboa is divided into half. Coastal vineyards bear the brunt of the vicious Atlantic rains and high winds presenting viticulturists with the challenge of protecting their vineyards. The best known vineyard on the coastal side of Lisboa is Colares which is fortunate to be blessed with phylloxera resistant soil. Colares produces some of the region’s best red wines in Ramisco. The coastal sub-regions of Óbidos and Lourinhã also cooler and wetter thanks to the Atlantic and produces grapes famous for making brandy and sparkling wine.

Across the Serra de Montejunto hills the terroir is much less volatile accounting for the some of the region’s best complex, full-bodied wine. Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz dominate vineyards in the Alenquer DOC. In Bucelas, Arinto vines are dominant and are used to produce white wines. Since vines in these regions have proven resistant and produce high yields, winemakers place emphasis on quantity rather than quality. However wines in these regions have the potential for varietal depth when it comes to expression and style.
Grapes - Blends:
Rare Red Blend, Portuguese Red Blend, Portuguese White Blend, Rare White Blend
Also known as the ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’ Madeira is a tourist hotspot that grows vines with known for their strength and high quality. The first wines in Madeira were produced in ... morethe fifteenth century. Some of the vines here are indigenous while others were introduced by European settlers. In the seventeenth century, English immigrants improved the winemaking process and increased the volumes produced. In 1990, red, white and rose wine gained international recognition.

Madeira has different microclimates which enhances crop size and quality in the humid, drier areas. This region experiences a moderate, temperate climate heavily influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The volcanic soil is fertile allowing vines to adapt to the deep valleys and steep slopes. Dominant white wine varieties include Verdelho, Sercial, Malvasia and Boal which produce wines with varying degrees of sweetness. White wines are produced in dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet and sweet styles. The most dominant vine planted in this sub region is Tinta Negra, which is a red wine variety that produces four different levels of sweetness.

Madeira wine was once proclaimed by European courts as the most elegant wine and was even used to perfume ladies’ scarves. Madeira and Port Wine often competed for the title of ‘Best Wine’ in European Courts. Madeira was so popular that William Shakespeare referenced it in a play written for King Henry IV.

A Basic Guide to Enjoying Portuguese Wine with Portuguese Dishes
For food with high acidity, such as food with tomatoes, salads with a vinegar dressing, lemon sauce or capers, choose white wine with tangy taste and high acid content.
Choose from:
• Northern white wines, such as Vinho Verde, Dão, Bairrado, Beira interior, Lãafoes, Terras de Beira or Minho.
• Lisboa wines, such as. Bucleas or Óbidos.
• Sparkling wines, such as, Távora-Varosa, Douro, Dão or Beira Interior.

Dry, aromatic wines are best enjoyed with seafood and spicy, Asian dishes. Sweet, spicy dishes are not recommended. Wines made from the fragrant Fernão Pires grapes are the best to pair with seafood.

The best wines to enjoy with cheeses are dry or sweet, white wines or, red wines such as Port or Madeira.

Lighter bodied red wines, such as Alentejo, compliment plainly cooked white and red meats. Dão is the best choice for fatty meats.

When choosing wine to pair with your food remember that overpowering red wine can drown the delicate foods with subtle flavors. Likewise foods with strong flavors and rich aromas can obliterate the notes in a gentle, white wine. Overpowering red wines includes red wine produced in Douro, Dão, Bairrado and Alentejo.
Grapes - Blends:
Rare White Blend, Malvasia, Others