While in Lisboa, we had the pleasure to discover Viniportugal, the interprofessional association of the Portuguese wine industry that is working as a network, developing and implementing innovative and relevant strategies and market plans that position Portugal as a hot spot of the global wine trade. Their aim is to promote the image of Portugal as a wine producing country and value a sustainable growth of volume and price of their wines.
In Portugal, there are 31 different wine classifications for DOC and DOP wines, and 14 regional wine areas for IGP. 47% of the wine production is exported, and the country is situated as the 11th largest wine producer worldwide as well as the 9th largest exporter.
Porto - Douro
The Douro demarcated region was created in September 1756, when, by royal charter, the General Company of Agriculture of the Alto Douro vineyards was founded. The Douro region is divided into three sub-regions: Baixo Corgo (45 000 hectares), Cima Corgo (95 000 hectares) and Douro Superior (110 000 hectares).
The climate is mainly Mediterranean and the soils are most of them composed from schists. There are 21 000 winegrowers in the region, which makes it the second largest wine region of Portugal in terms of area under vine, the main wine region in terms of wine production and the main wine region in terms of production of wine under denomination.
Each individual parcel is classified according to a pint system based on the potential quality of the grapes produced there. There are many local grape varieties in the Douro region, and 5 of them have been declared as best for port wine: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão.
Port wine is a Portuguese fortified wine excusively produced in the Douro valley, in the north of Portugal. It is produced by adding to the wine a neutral grape spirit which stop the fermentation and leaves a residual sugar in the wine to boost the alcohol content. The wine is then stored and aged in barrels most of the time. It is appreciated as a dessert wine, or can as well be drinked as an aperitif. The two most known port wines are the Ruby (most famous one but the cheapest and aged in concrete or stainless steel tanks) and the Tawny port (aged in wooden barrels), but there are as well the Garrafeira (aged in wooden barrels as well as 8 years in glass before bottling), White port (made from white grapes), Vintage port, and the Crusted port (blend of several vintages).
The Douro Boys
The Douro Boys is a group of five wine estates: Quinta do Vallado, Niepoort, Quinta do Crasto, Quinta Vale D. Maria and Quinta do Vale Meão. Since 2003, the Douro Boys have decided to make a recognition not only of Port wine but as well of qualitative dry wines, for dry wines of the Douro region to achieve a nice recognition level. They aim to get the best quality they can, therefore, they hand pick their varieties (40 of them), for their 3 different types of wines, a little earlier than the other producers in order to get a better acidity and a lower alcohol value.
Quinta de Noval
Vale de Mendiz
Quinta Do Noval has been created in 1715, and is nowadays a property of AXA Millésimes since 1993 (Chateau Pichon Baron, Chateau Suduiraut, Domaine de l’Arlot are a few names of the AXA Millesimes group wine properties). Quinta do noval is the only historic port shipper that bears the name of its vineyard and therefore benefits from a privileged position in the heart of the Douro valley. The vineyard, which is entirely classified letter A, is planted with the noble grape varieties of the Douro. Since 1994, they have replanted 100 hectares of the domaine, adapting pruning methods to suit each parcel to its best. The plot is now composed of 145 hectares. The parcels have been replanted in single grape varieties plots according to the altitude exposition and type of planting of the vine. Almost all the property is farmed organically, a more expensive way of farming for them, but they are slowly trying to convert everything into organic viticulture.
Vila Nova de Gaia
Taylor’s was founded in 1692 and is the last familial port wine house, as well as one of the oldest of the founding port houses. They are situated in Vila Nova de Gaia, where their wines are aged in old barrels (like, really, really old ones) as they never change them (they repair them if needed). They are entirely dedicated to the production of port wine and are even producing port of 50 years old...
Solar do Vinho do DÃO
Dao is an appellation from Portugal, for the wines produced in the province of Beira Alta, in the center of Portugal. The appellation has been established in 1908 with the first delimitation of the region. Its vineyard bears 20 000 hectares on the Coimbra, Guarda and Viseu districts, with mainly sandy and schists soils, situated between 400 and 700 meters of altitude. Their main varieties are Touriga nacional, Tinta roriz, Mencia, and Alfrocheiro preto, mostly reds.
Tapada Do Chaves
Tapada do Chaves is exactly what I was coming to Portugal for. A good wine, to share with friends, fresh and refreshing with an amazing value for money. Just by walking in their 28 hectares vineyards, you’ll see century old vines, all organic, full of little bees and organism living on their soils, which gives the best terroir expression. They age their wines in French and Portuguese oak barrels, and make them age a little more, normally about 2 or 3 years, in bottles before selling it (they produce 70 000 bottles, FYI). For them, organic and sustainable is pretty much the same: “You just need to be responsible with the environment” . They work with allocations, and export in 3 different countries 20% of their production only, as for them, the local market is the most important for now.