Portugal

With its treasure trove of indigenous grape varieties, diverse geography and climate, Portugal produces world-class table wines. In his latest book, The World’s Greatest Wine Estates, Robert Parker mentions “the potential for creating exciting table wines is unquestionable” and Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar called them “terrific values compared to wines of similar concentration from the New World”

While many American wine consumers are familiar with Port, far fewer are familiar with the excellent table wines now available. Since the mid-eighties Portugal has been undergoing a quiet revolution in quality and their efforts are starting to pay off for consumers who seek good value wines that pair well with food.

Alentejo

Located only 90 minutes east of Lisbon, this region is very different from Portugal’s other important wine growing areas. With vast open fields of wheat, cork trees dotting the landscape and wonderfully preserved medieval towns crowning small hills, vineyards are hard to find at first glance. Winemaking has a long but turbulent history in the Alentejo. From the 1920’s to the 70’s many vineyards were ripped out and planted with wheat to make this area the breadbasket for Portugal. To make matters worse, in the mid-70’s many of the remaining estates were confiscated by local workers and run as cooperative and renamed as the April 25th or Red Star Cooperative. The properties were returned to their rightful owners in the early 80’s who have led a quality revolution and now deliver excellent value wines to consumers.

Bairrada

This area lies just to the north of the Coimbra (the capital of Portugal in the 14th Century) and a short distance inland from the Atlantic coast. It’s a unique wine growing area that is dominated by the single grape variety the Baga or Berry. Over 70% of the areas production comes from this grape and much of the remaining white grape production is turned into espumante (sparkling wine). While wine has been produced here since the Roman times, the weather is a constant challenge to growers. But in good years, when the grapes fully ripen, producers make some of Portugal’s best red wines. Many of these wines are made following age-old techniques by treading the grapes (stems and all) and fermenting the wine in stone lagares. Under these conditions traditional red Bairrada wines compare very favorably to good California Zinfandels.

Dão

Dão is located in the northern centre of Portugal just south of the Douro Valley. Surrounded by the Caramulo, Montemuro, Buaco and Estrela mountain ranges this region is protected from extreme weather elements. The vines themselves are located at a moderate altitude of between 1500 to 2500 feet on shallow granite and schist soils. The Atlantic to the West and dry interior to the East provide excellent dry summers for ripening grapes, and cold rainy winters to help replenish the vines. Until the mid 1980's, when Portugal joined the EEC, most of the production was done by cooperative wineries. Many small land holders would bring their small production of grapes to the central winery of the region and a wine would be produced and sold to larger companies. After Portugal joined the EEC many of these small producers and cooperatives modernized their wineries or invested in new space and hence the system we see today exists: Many smaller farmers producing their own wines from their own land. The vines in the Dão are made up of many different indigenous varieties. Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Jaen and Tinta Roriz for red wines, and Encruzado, Bical, Cercial, Malvasia Fina and Verdelho for whites. The white wines of this region tend to be very aromatic, fruity and balanced. The reds are full bodied, layered and may become complex after ageing in bottle.

Douro

Home to Port, the world’s first branded wine, this area straddles the Douro River (just downstream from Ribera del Duero in neighboring Spain). This is the most rugged winegrowing region in Portugal – if not the world! The terrain is too steep and barren to grow anything but vines. This unique winegrowing region produces some of Portugal's best red table wines. The combination of climate, indigenous grape varieties and low yields produce inky, opaque wines with great structure and ageing potential. It took a change in the law in 1986 allowing Douro producers to export their own product to unleash this potential. Now each vintage produces additional world-class wines grown by producers who are committed to innovation, quality and fine wine.

Minho

The Costa Verde (green coast) lies north of Oporto and borders North West Spain and Galicia – the region known for Albarino. Not surprisingly the same grape (Alvarinho) is grown throughout this region as well. This is the largest DOC in Portugal and has long been known for its green-tinged whites. The name refers not to the color of the wine, but the need to drink them when they are still young and they are excellent with seafood. Like other regions with a long history of wine production (wines were exported to England in the 16th Century) this area has seen a revival in small-scale production since the early eighties. While there are still literally thousands of producers scattered throughout the region mostly making wine for family and friends, a small but growing band of producers are turning out excellent wines for export once more.

Ribatejo

Adjoining the Alentejo, the Ribatejo has long been Portugal’s agricultural heartland with some the largest and most prosperous estates found along the Tagus River. It is the second only to the Oeste in the amount of wine produced each year. The average vineyard holding is over three times that of the Vihno Verde, but averaging only three acres, these landholdings are still very small compared to most other wine growing regions. The best wines come from the less fertile charneca (“heathland”) area which is also home to bullfighting and hunting. There are also some well established vineyards developed with French influence in the 50’s planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Portugal Wine Producers

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Portugal Area
Producer
Label
About the producer
AlentejoEsporãoThis thoroughly modern estate has done a great deal to put Alentejo wines on the map. Esporão is an excellent example of what Portugal can produce given capital, leadership and fine winemaking expertise.
The estate began once the land was reclaimed from the “workers” in 1979. The expansive, cavernous cellers were built in 1987 and the facilities were greatly expanded in ’95 when a large dam was constructed to provide regular irrigation.
Under the stewardship of “Aussie” winemaker David Baverstock, this estate has gone from strength to strength. Its wine making operations are truly impressive. They include two separate vinification lines: one for the higher volume table wines, and the second for the higher quality wines. David continues to add wines to the portfolio; his newly introduced Garrafeira (aged for two years in oak barrels) is clear evidence of the caliber of his winemaking skills.
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For winery & vineyard information, plus tasting & technical notes & accolades, please see:
www.esporao.com

AlentejoHerdade dos GrousThis estate is producing some great wines – its Reserva 2006 won the “Best Wine of Alentejo” by the Oenologist Union of Alentejo. Luis Duarte, also of Monte dos Cabaços, crafts wines that demand your attention.
The success achieved here in a relatively short period of time is remarkable. Some 75 hectares of the 1500 acre estate are given over to vineyards. They began planting Alicante Bouchet, Syrah, Touriga Nacional and some Trincadeira back in 2002. More unusual red varieties such as Zinfandel, San Giovese, Negra Mole and Tinta Miuda, plus some whites like Semillion, Antão Vaz, Verdelho and Alvarinho were planted a little later.
Herdade dos Grous is not just about making great wine, it is also a working farm, albeit on a grand scale. The estate champions organic farming, with fruit, vegetables and herbs lovingly cultivated in wide-open orchards or under greenhouses. Visitors can stay in the peace and tranquilty of an elegant five star hotel to also be found on the estate.
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For winery & vineyard information, plus tasting & technical notes, please see:www.herdadedosgrous.com
AlentejoHerdade do MouchãoMouchão has been owned by the Reynolds family since the mid-19th century, when Thomas Reynolds set out south from Porto to the Alentejo in search of a cork estate. He found Mouchão, all 900 hectares of it. Even today the estate is mostly cork grove, with a bit of vineyard - although its the wine that it is known for.
This estate is unusual in several aspects: it uses a very high percentage (80% or more) of the Alicante Bouschet grape (most other producers use this as a blending grape) and it maintains a curious collaboration between modern complex trellising in the vineyard and very traditional wine making techniques including foot treading in granite lagares.
The results are spectacular. They produce powerful, well-structured red wines that demand cellaring to round out and mature. As Richard Mayson writes in his encyclopedia, The Wines and Vineyards of Portugal, “Mouchão is undoubtedly one of Portugal’s most impressive red wines”. They also bottle wines under a second label, Dom Rafael, for both white and red wines that are suitable for drinking earlier. For winery & vineyard information, plus tasting & technical notes, please see:
www.mouchaowine.pt
BairradaQuinta das BageirasConsidered by many to be one of the top Bairrada estates, the youthful Mário Sérgio Alves Nuno founded Quinta das Bageiras in 1990. He owns some 28 hectares, split between white and red varieties. This very traditional property produces a full range including sparkling, white, red and spirits.
The focus of the Quinta’s production is traditional method sparkling wines made from predominantly Maria Gomez and Bical. Baga, the red grape of Bairrada, is well presented in the Colheita and Garrafeira. Quinta das Bageiras produces wines of very distinct character and flavor profile; these wines are sure to make an impression on you!
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For winery & vineyard information, plus tasting & technical notes, please see:
www.quintadasbageiras.pt
DouroAlves de SousaDomingos and his son Tiago produce some of the most exciting wines coming from the Douro. A supplier to the Port trade for generations, in 1987 they became producers of estate bottled Douro wines. They are founding members of the Independent Wine Growers Association and the only vintner to be awarded the "Producer of the Year" twice (1999, 2006) by Revista de Vinhos, Portugal’s prestigious wine magazine.
Their vines are grown on five Quintas covering 110 hectares – Gaivosa, Vale da Raposa, Caldas, Estação and Aveleira. This diversity of terroir, slope, microclimate and grape varieties provide the raw material for a wonderfully diverse range of wines including whites, roses, red wines and Port.
In a remarkably short period of time their efforts to produce excellent wines have been recognized by the wine trade in the U.S. As Robert Parker noted when he tasted at the estate "their lineup included some of the most enjoyable wines I reviewed."
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For winery & vineyard information, plus tasting & technical notes & accolades, please see:
www.alvesdesousa.com
DouroKolheita de IdeiasKolheita de Ideias is a high-quality, small-scale negociant operation established in 2001 with the vision to construct great wines. The three “young Turks:” Luís Soares Duarte, Francisco Ferreira and Rui Moreira purchase grapes from the three different Douro regions to produce three wines: Kolheita, K and esboço. The most impressive, the Kolheita, is only produced in the best years and is in a modern mold, with multi-layered spicy fruit and toasty oak with luscious texture
With a strong background in viticulture, this team is working closely with the growers to ensure the best the vintage has to offer. This is another example of the collaborative movement that is striving to make the very best wines that the terroir will permit. This movement was well described in the Wine Anorak: "The fact that there’s so much cooperation and cross-fertilization between people who are technically competitors is extremely encouraging, and bodes well for the future". We agree and we think the best is yet to come from the Douro.
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No Producer Website
DouroPoeiraJorge Moreira spent seven years as winemaker with Real Compania Velha before buying a small Quinta of his own and starting Poeira in 2001. The vineyard faces north which helps to moderate the temperature and ripen the grapes over a longer period of time. The winery itself is very much in keeping with older methods, using traditional stone vats and a screw press to crush the grapes.
Poeira aims to be a balanced and elegant wine. Douro wines generally rely on their tannins, but Poeira relies on its acidity. A wine that is extremely drinkable and appealing when young, but which at the same time has the capacity to develop.

For winery & vineyard information, plus tasting notes, please see:
www.poeira.pt
DouroPVThis exciting new negociant operation is another example of the collaboration between winemakers that is taking place in the Douro. VT is directed by José Maria Calem (of the Calem Port Family), Jorge Serôdio Borges (co-owner and producer of Pintas) and Cristiano Van Zeller (owner and producer of Quinta Vale Dona Maria). They have pooled their skills, talent and resources to create a contemporary red wine that expresses the Douro’s diversity of grounds, grapes and expositions. With twenty generations linked to both the Douro and Port shipping, this team has honed their commercial and oenological skills to offer a full range of tastes native to this region.
Here’s what one English wine writer had to say about their first release, the ’04: “This first vintage is a blend of Portuguese varietals and has a youthful opaque purple color highly concentrated blackberry fruit and notes of violets and toasty oak. Modern in style, it has excellent structure, round ripe tannins and a long finish. This is another terrific wine from the Douro”.
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For winery information, plus tasting & technical notes in portugese, please see:
www.pvwines.com
DouroQuinta do FojoMargarida Serodio Borges is producing some exceptional red wines from these two Quintas that she and her brother, Jorge Borges, inherited from their Grandfather in the early ‘90’s. Fojo wines reflect the new wave of winemaking that is sweeping through the Douro and grabbing the attention of serious wine drinkers. They inherited old, low yielding vines and rely on traditional foot treading and fermentation in old concrete lagares to produce saturated, complex wines. The results are outstanding and the wines demand cellaring before drinking. Margarida also produces a second label, Vinha do Fojo, which tends to be more approachable earlier on.
The Wine Spectator gave the 2000 Quinta do Fojo 94 Points, calling it “massive and muscular”. The Wine Advocate gave it 95 points, describing it as “Simply beautiful. This deep red wine from the Douro region is tannic and layered; full of complexity ……This is a wine for a serious collector”.
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No producer website available.
DouroQuinta do JudeuLocated in Peso da Régua, the capital of Douro, Quinta do Judeu is the result of a family passion for wine, the Douro and Portugal. The Carvalho family has owned Quinta do Judeu since 1932; Manuel Carvalho (known as Manuel do Talho) and his wife Maria da Gloria were respected and admired traders in Peso da Régua.
With their recently renewed and modernized estate, the Carvalho family remains committed to producing wines that express the Douro and Portugal. Between their two estates: Corgo and Covelinhas, the Quintas produce three brands: the Corgo da Régua, Manuel do Talho, and Quinta do Judeu.
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For winery & vineyard information, plus some tasting & technical notes, please see:
www.quintadojudeu.com
DouroQuinta de la RosaThe Bergqvist family have been making port since 1815. Quinta de la Rosa was given as a christening present for Claire Feuheerd, Sophia’s grandmother in 1906. The family port shipping company, Feuheerd, was sold in the 1930’s, but Quinta de la Rosa was kept and run by Sophia’s grandmother, Claire. In 1988, Sophia and her father, Tim Bergqvist, re-launched Quinta de la Rosa as a top-quality port producer. In the early 1990,s, they pioneered quality red wine production in the Douro region from their estate grown fruit. Quinta de la Rosa has subsequently won acclaim for its red wine as well as its ports with accolades from the wine press and placements in many prestigious restaurants and wine store around the world. For the last 5 years, Quinta de la Rosa has expanded their red wine production to another label, Vale da Clara, which is produced from grapes carefully selected from nearby properties. Vale da Clara wines differ distinctly from the La Rosa wine they produce by being more fruit forward and less oak flavours.
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For winery & vineyard information, plus tasting & technical notes and accolades, please see:
www.quintadelarosa.com
DouroQuinta de MaritávoraHistory, culture, tradition and innovation are very much interwoven at this Quinta. The owners are descended from the poet Guerra Junqueiro who inherited 25 acres planted within the International Douro National Park. This land is typical of the Douro – stony, barren and fit only for grapes. The vines used for the white wine are over 100 years old.
All work is performed by hand and low-input viticulture practices to minimize the environmental impact. Production began in 2004 under the guidance of winemaker Jorge Borges. Acclaim for his wines has not been slow in coming – praise for his white wine has been particularly high, and some regard it as one of the best whites produced in Portugal.
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For winery & vineyard information, plus tasting & technical notes, please see:www.maritavora.com
DouroQuinta do Vale Dona MariaFamous Douro boy, Christiano Van Zellar started Quinta do Vale Dona Maria in 1996 after having acquired the amazing property from his wife Joanna's family. This old-vine vineyard, located in the Rio Torto Valley in the heart of the Douro Demarcated Region, has limitless potential and is producing wines of concentration and complexity. Their efforts are about innovation. Their wines are about personality, character, excitement, pleasure, fun, reliability, innovation, people, and life. A small and dedicated team of viticulturists and winemakers - Sandra Tavares da Silva, Franscisco Olazábal and Christiano Van Zeller- produce a range of Port and Douro Reds, a complete line-up whose individual style speaks to the best the Douro has to offer.
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For winery information, plus tasting & technical notes & accolades, please see:
www.valedonamaria.com
DouroVinhos BorgesFounded in 1884 by Francisco and António Borges, Vinhos Borges produces quality wines from different Portuguese regions.
Gatão is named after a small village of the same name where the orginal grapes used to come from. Eventually Gatão became the "big cat" and not the grape designation of origin. Gatão continues to be a Vinho Verde of exceptional quality and reputation.
Meia Encosta was started in 1970 as a modern take on the character of Dão wines. The wine does not shy away from the characteristic traditions of the region's wine, but completely conveys the distinction, elegance and full awareness of the past to bring about a wonderful Dão wine. The Lello was directed for decades by the Lello family who eventually merged with the Borges family. Relaunched in 2006 the Lello wines have quickly become firm favorites in Europe and the US.

For winery, tasting & technical notes, vineyard and award information please see:
www.borgeswines.com
RibatejoFalua – Conde de VimiosoNamed after the distinctive sail boats that plied the stately river Targus, before the railroad and highways arrived, this ultra modern winery was built by J. Portugal Ramos in 2004. Buying grapes from local producers they produce a variety of red wines using mostly a blend Touriga Nacional, Aragonêz (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon and Trincadeira.
Their “Reserva” is one of the best value red wines available from Portugal today. The Wine Enthusiast gave the 2001 Reserva 91 Points, and said “An impressive wine, packed with serious, dark, intense and concentrated fruits, and dusty tannins. Spices, dried fruits, vanilla and herbs are all there, giving a complex blend that would benefit from 5+ years’ bottle aging. Beautifully crafted.”
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For winery & vineyard information, plus tasting & technical notes & accolades, please see:
www.falua.net
MinhoCasa de CelloCasa de Cello exemplifies what can be so exciting about Portuguese wines today and how much they have improved. Under the careful stewardship of João Pedro Araujo, this estate, which is situated in the heart of Vinho Verde, combines careful stewardship of the land with modern wine making practices to produce some of the regions most appealing white wines.
This estate produces wonderfully fresh crisp white wines under the Quinta de San Joanne label and full bodied reds under the Quinta da Vegia label from the Dão. The Vinho Verde was listed on “the best wines of the region” by Vinhos magazine in ’07. The Wine Advocate said that “the nose is simply beautiful, just what you want from this type of wine,” and gave the ’03 Eschola Branco 91 points; “The finish is the best part, lingering, long and delicious. This is a wine that can grow on you”.
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For winery & vineyard information, plus tasting & technical notes, please see:www.casadecello.pt
MinhoVinhos BorgesFounded in 1884 by Francisco and António Borges, Vinhos Borges produces quality wines from different Portuguese regions.
Gatão is named after a small village of the same name where the orginal grapes used to come from. Eventually Gatão became the "big cat" and not the grape designation of origin. Gatão continues to be a Vinho Verde of exceptional quality and reputation.
Meia Encosta was started in 1970 as a modern take on the character of Dão wines. The wine does not shy away from the characteristic traditions of the region's wine, but completely conveys the distinction, elegance and full awareness of the past to bring about a wonderful Dão wine. The Lello was directed for decades by the Lello family who eventually merged with the Borges family. Relaunched in 2006 the Lello wines have quickly become firm favorites in Europe and the US.

For winery, tasting & technical notes, vineyard and award information please see:
www.borgeswines.com