Upcoming Tours Major Grapes: Port grapes, Alvarinho
Welcome to Portugal
Portugal is a red wine lovers’ paradise. Its climate is similar to Bordeaux although the quality of the finished produce is not the same. However as Portuguese winemakers pay closer attention to quality standards, the reputation of Portuguese wines will invariably get better.
Portugal is already world famous for its fortified wines, Port and Madeira. Port is made by running off the partially fermented red wine into a barrel a quarter full of brandy, while it still contains at least half of its grape sugar. The grapes are grown inland, up the Douro River. After harvest and fermentation, the barrels are transported to Porto on the Atlantic coast where they undergo aging in the port lodges.
The finest ports are designated vintage ports. Only 3 out of every ten years are considered good enough to be declared vintage ports. Vintage ports require further aging but after 20 years or so, they will have an incomparable fragrance, richness and delicacy. A great vintage port is without a doubt among the world’s very best wines.
However there are many great still red wines. Many port lodges, in response to a demand for red wines, have diverted a portion of their best grapes to produce outstanding Douro reds. Other great red wine regions are Bairrada, Minho and Dão.
Portugal’s one great white wine is the vinho verde. Mostly light and slightly effervescent, the best examples are made from the arbarino grape.
Madeira, produced on the island of the same name, is also fortified with brandy. However it undergoes a unique heating process of heating the wine over a long period to a temperature of 120 degrees F.
There are 4 types of Madeira: Malmsey is the sweetest, bual is lighter and less sweet; verdelho is less sweet than bual and sercial is the driest of the Madeiras.