Portugal has mountainous area in the North, its southern side beyond the river Tagus is flat. The better wines come from its northern hills.
Portugal has three types of wine maker:
Small growers: – they do not produce anything exciting
Cooperatives:- they produce every day wine
Large private producers: they produce interesting exceptional quality wines.
As one thinks of Spanish wines, sherry immediately springs to the mind, so does port in case. Portugal produces several varieties of wines and foremost among other Portuguese wines is of course Madeira.
PRINCIPAL REGIONS OF PORTUGAL
PORTO E DOURO
This is famous for its port. Douro valley is responsible for producing table wines (red, white and rose wines)
This means green wine. It comes from vine grown in the Provence of Minho. These are acid, young wines of low alcoholic content. The most notable type white wines are from Alvarinho and Azal grapes. Red, Rose and white wines are made in this region. White Vinho Verde, as it is drunk in the region is crisp and dry.
This region produces more than 90 percent red wine. It is situated in south of Oporto. Its name originates from local name for the clay soil, barro. The wines made from local Baga grape, are heavy in tannin, strong in color, flavor and alcohol, characteristics which become less apparent when drunk with local food. One of the best producers is Caves St. Jado
The famous white grape variety of this region is Maria Gomes, which has affinity for sandy soil. The wines obtained from this grape variety are light and fruity, slightly sparkling. Rose wines and brandies are also produced in this region.
This is east of the Bairrada region and centred around town of Viseu. This region produces over 90 percent red wines. The grape variety used is Touriga Nacional. The wines are dry, fully bodied, fairly tannic red eg. Of famous Producer is Grao Vasco.
This is the largest wine producing area of Portugal. This place has lot of potential to make great wines, although traditionally not wine producing region. Peter Bright of Joao pires has recently been making remarkable Chardonnay and red Tinto Da Anfora.
This is a region lying between Lisbon and the West Coast. A rich, sticky, nutty, amber colored fortified wine is made at Quinta Do Barao.
This area is best known for its upgrafted, phylloxera-free vines i.e. ramisco Vines grown in the Sanddunes that produce deep red wines, tannic when young becomes softer after maturing.
It is situated along the Atlantic coast north of Sintra. Both red wines and white wines are produced here, which are sold to co-operatives. One of the best co-operatives is Arruda, named after subregions of Estremadura.
It is famous for well known fortified wine Moscatel De Setubal. It is also home of two best wines producers of Portugal. A) Joao Pires B) Jose – Maria Da Fonseca, both companies are sister companies.
SOME FAMOUS WINES PRODUCED BY ABOVE PRODUCERS ARE: 1) Sparkling Rose Lancer 2) Muscat Branco – White wine 3) Quinta Da Anfora – red wine 4) Quinta Da Bacalhoa – red wine.
Produces white wine from Arinto grape. It is in North of Lisbon.
PORT: FORTIFIED WINE
Port wine is produced in Portugal in the mountainous region of the river Douro in the north east of the country. Port is a great wine, Englishman’s drink is considered by many the greatest occasional dessert wine of the world.
The vines are grown on steep terraced vineyards which slope upwards from the river Douro banks. The soil rich is in potassium and poor in nitrogen and lime having hard schist of the mountainside. The best port seems to be produced from vines with the smallest harvest.
MADEIRA: FORTIFIED WINE
Madeira is a Portuguese Volcanic Island some five hundred miles off the coast of Morocco. Madeira is a wine of unique character having fruitiness of port and tonicy tang. The name Madeira in Portuguese means wood and probably refers to the thick layer of fertile potash soil, at incenrated ash of a million trees which were burnt there rive hundred years ago.
VARIETIES OF MADEIRA
SERCIAL: A dry wine with sharp flavor, full golden to pale color.
VERDELHO: A golden, medium dry, soft dessert wine, rich, fruity, full bodied wine
BUAL: Rich, fruity, full bodied wine, sweet like dessert
MALMESY: Soft, rich wine.
USES OF MADEIRA:
It can be served as an aperitif.
Sweet ones can be served as dessert wine
Very popular as tonic wine because of presence of minerals.
As a substitute for sherry
As an accompaniment to soup and Madeira cake.