I recently shared with you The Wines of Portugal tour made a stop in Dallas and I was blessed to be invited to attend the master class presented by Full Circle Wine Solutions and hosted by Master Sommelier Keith Goldston. The four hour master class was conveniently divided into two parts: single varietal wines and wine blends. I encourage you to review my first article, “Wines of Portugal: Where Tradition Meets Modernity,” focused on the delicious Portuguese single varietal wines. This article will explore Portugal’s Demarcated Regions and unique wine blends.
Portugal’s Demarcated Regions:
- Vinho Verde: main varieties: Alvarinho, Loureiro, Arinto/Pederna Azal, Avesso, Vinhao; wines: light, fresh, high acidity, minerality, aromas of apple, lemon & flowers; largest DOP & has been recognized since 1908; Loureiro surpassed all other grapes in this region as the grape of choice; contains 9 DOP sub-regions; nearly 40% of all wine made here is red!
- Bairrada: main varieties: Bical, Fernao Pires (Maria Gomes), Baga, Touriga Nacional, Sparkling Baga; white wines: ripe citrus, fruity, fresh & persistent, high alcohol content, high acidity, good aging potential; red wines: dark ruby, med – high acids, concentrated tannins, rich & complex aromas, good aging potential
- Lisboa: main varieties: Arinto, Malvasia, Castelao, Trincadeira, Aragones, Ramisco; wines: fesh and crisp whites, fruit-forward, bright reds of good value & quality; close to Lisbon, three historically important but small DOPs, 3rd most productive wine region in Portugal, image of modern winemaking in Portugal today
- Península de Setúbal: main varieties: Moscatel de Setubal (Alexandria), Fernão Pires, Castelao, Moscatel Roxo; wines: early maturing red wines with notes of red currants and raspberries, wine with aging potential; contains two DOPs: Setubal and Palemla
- Douro: main varieties: Douro has over 100 registered grapes including Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cao, Sousao; wines: black & red fruit, intense opaque, floral notes; first demarcated wine region in the world in 1756; Portugal’s first DOC
- Dão: main varieties: Encruzado, Bical, Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Tinta Roriz, and Jaen; wines: complex and delicate aromas & flavors, very elegant, moderately full-body with exceptional acidity and a great aging potential; potential for best wines of Portugal
- Beira Interior: main varieties: Siria, Arinto, Fonte Cal (unique white grape), Rufete, Trincadeira; 3 sub-regions, harsh climate
- Tejo: main varieties: Fernao Pires, Castelao, Trincadeira; wines: balanced wines with fruit forward aromas and flavors; good value; 3 distinctive wine zones
- Alentejo: main varieties: Antao Vaz, Roupeiro, Aragones, Trincadeira, Alicante, Bouschet; wines: full body, fruit forward, jammy, can be complex; produces most popular wines with the Portuguese; 30% of Portuguese land mass; epicenter of Portuguese modernization
- Algarve: main varieties: Castelao, Aragones, Touriga Nacional, Roupeiro, Arino; wines: soft, fruit forward red and easy drinking whites; wines made largely for local tourism, furthest southern region with four DOPs.
- Açores: main varieties: Verdelho, Arinto; wines: light, fresh, dry and fruity, well-balanced with strong minerality; volcanic islands located in the middle of the Atlantic, nearly 1000 miles from coast of Portugal; only 3 of 9 islands have DOPs; Pico DOP contains a volcano & was designated a World Heritage Site in 2004
- Madeiera: main varities: Sercial, Verhelho, Boal, Malvasia, and Negra Mole; wines: sweetness balanced by good dose of acidity, full body, notes of dried fruit; characteristically steep topography with some volcanic soil
Blended wines of Portugal:
2012 Valle Pradinhos Branco: Trás-os-Montes appellation; crafted from unusual combination of Alsatian grape varieties including Riesling, Gewurztraminer with Trás-os-Montes variety Malvasia Fina; crisp sweet aroma but not sweet on palate at all; citrus, tropical fruit, floral notes, nice minerality, creamy with balanced acidity; SRP $25
2014 Filipa Pato Bical & Arinto: Bairrada appellation; crafted from Bical and Arinto; melons, herbs, mineral driven, soft but persistent acidity, fresh and clean; SRP $25
2013 Herdade de Gambia Branco: Península de Setúbal appellation; crafted from Moscatel Graudo and Fernão Pires; extreme floral notes, lychee, tropical fruit, sweet and creamy; SRP $16.99
2010 Lusovinin Pedra da Cancela Selecao do Enologo Tinto: Dão appellation; crafted from Alfrocheiro, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional; intense aroma; red fruit, sour cherry, tea and cocoa; persistent tannins with long, dry finish; well-liked by participants; SRP $12
2012 Quinta do Vallado Field Blend Reserva: Douro appellation; crafted from over 30 grape varieties including Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional; concentrated rich black fruit, black fig, tobacco, very rustic and ripe with a touch of funk; ripe and bold with weighty acidity and long finish; example of traditional and modern Portugal in one glass; SRP $65
Madeira Wine Company Blandy’s 10 Year Old Sercial Madeira: Madeira appellation; fascinating wine, pale topaz, dry fruit, especially apricot with toasted hazelnuts and a touch of citrus, very sweet with round, acidity, lingering finish; aged in seasoned oak casks; indefinite shelf life; ready to drink with no additional aging or decanting…ever; SRP $29
Portuguese wines are incredibly food friendly. The wines are balanced and restrained, not over oaked, not too tannic (though some need age), with high acidity. Furthermore, like most European wine makers, Portuguese wine makers have an inherent understanding of pairing wine with food. As I said in part one of these two articles, Portuguese are an incredible value. Of these six wines only one is about $29! These wines are all imported in the United States so please seek them out online or from your local wine retailer and add some pleasant diversity to your wine enjoyment; you will be pleased with the outcome! Visit the Wines of Portugal web site to learn more about amazing Portugal (one of the best values for a European vacation), amazing Portuguese wine regions and amazing Portuguese wine!
My Song Selection: To conclude the Wines of Portugal master class and wines I have chosen to pair this article with Ana Moura’s Defado. Ana Moura is an internationally recognized Portuguese Fado singer. Fado is quintessentially Portuguese; the style of music can be traced back to 1820 but believed to be much older. It is characterized by mournful lyrics about often about the poor and/or life on the sea. This song and style of music is a wonderful way to conclude our Portuguese journey.
Get your own bottles of Portuguese wines and let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!