Earlier in April, Wines of Portugal hosted a tasting at the Coast Hotel in Downtown Vancouver. Envision a big, glamorous ballroom with a perimeter of tables, filled with wine made from grapes indigenous to Portugal. Some I knew but still have challenges pronouncing (I’m looking at you, Encruzado). Others I’d never heard of but instantly became enamoured with.
Portugal takes up a pretty small footprint in your local liquor store. But hot damn, there is a TON of value in Portuguese wines. With more than 250 native grapes, there’s no such thing as a regional profile. In all of its versatility, I’ve never met a bottle that wasn’t approachable, inviting and oh, so, drinkable. People might say that Portugal holds some mystery when it comes to its wines. In fact, it’s the 9th largest exporter of wine in the world and 11th largest in regards to volume of wine produced. Overall, Portugal holds 2.6% of the global wine share. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Plus, it’s the biggest producer of cork in the world. So for that, we thank you Portugal!
Here’s a quick recap of my faves from the tasting:
Producer: Rocim Wine: Herdade do Rocim Amphora Branco 2018 Region: Alentejo Grapes: Antão Vaz, Rabo de Ovelha, Perrum. Made in 200-year-old amphora concrete. Mind blowing.
Producer: Vivente Faria Vinhos Wines: Animus Red 2017 & Gloria Reserva Red 2016 Region: Douro Grapes: Both wines are made from Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca & Tinta Roriz. The Gloria is aged 6 months longer. Both delicious. Very different flavour profiles. Interesting side-by-side.
Producer: Companhia Agricola do Sanguinhal Wine: Quinta de S. Francisco Óbidos Red 2016 Region: Lisboa Grapes: Aragonez, Touriga Nacional, Castelão
Plus a few more that I really liked!
After the tasting, I was fortunate enough to participate in a seminar with Wines of Portugal representative, Sofia Salvador. The topic was The Portuguese Art of Blending which can pretty much be considered the most on-the-nose name of all time. Portugal isn’t known for single-varietal wines. And why should they? Of the 250+ native varietals available to them, most commercial wines are made from around 30 different grapes. Even with that fraction, the combinations are endless; the flavour profiles have no constraints and the versatility is limitless.
So the next time you’re in the liquor store, don’t be afraid to ask where the Portuguese section is. Not only will your wallet thank you (remember, Portugal = excellent value!) but also your palate will never forget it’s first Portuguese blend. Cheers!