Portugal is one of the top producing countries in Europe, slightly underrated and unknown. The country offers one of the most unique styles of wine like the fortified Port and Madeira and as well the light and refreshing Vinho Verde. Grapes have been grown in the area that is now Portugal for at least 4,000 years.
The Phoenicians probably introduced winemaking to the south, and the Romans spread vine cultivation and winemaking in the north. The country has a very rich wine history throughout the centuries and has always kept a strong relationship with England, which is in love with the port wine. Portugal has a predominantly temperate maritime climate with large rainfalls caused by the Atlantic Ocean. The terroir is various in the different wine zones across the country, because of the landscape which is changing from mountainous to river valleys, vast plains and coastal hills.
Portugal is divided into 14 wine regions with its sub-regions and the most notable are the Douro, Dão, Bairrada, Alentejo and Vinho Verde. The country has an enormous amount of indigenous grape varieties used for white, red and port wines. The most planted grapes are Alvarinho, Arinto, Verdelho, Rabigato and Fernão Pires for the white and the red are Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Trincadeira, Tinto Cão, Touriga Franca, Alfrocheiro and many more.
There are three quality levels in Portugal, starting with the superior DOC which stands for Denominação de Origem Controlada, there are 31, and means the wine comes from a strictly defined geographical area with permitted grapes and maximum vine yields. The next level is Vinho Regional or IGP which is divided into 14 regional wine (“vinho regional”) areas that have less strict laws for regulating which types of grapes are used as well as maximum vine yields and last is the Vinho (Wine) which is the most basic classification of Portuguese table wine. Portugal has given to the world port wine and Madeira, one of the finest and long-lived wines ever to be produced.
The most prominent region is the beautiful Douro Valley, which is the core of the port production together with Dão region. The Madeira island which has centuries of tradition in fortified wines. Let's not forget the well known Vinho Verde region for its light, refreshing and mineral white wines coming from this maritime area. The last two decades the country has started to boost outstanding dry red wines from the two port wine regions and Bairrada, they have super value for money ratio and has undergone massive improvement in the quality of the wines and in the winemaking techniques. Portugal is a land with big diversity and various wine styles which are waiting to be discovered together with its rich history.
Portugal has undergone something of a revolution in the past couple of decades. This Old World country famous only for its fortified wines (Port and Madeira) is now attracting a lot of attention for its wines mainly made with native grapes that have given Portuguese wines uniqueness in an overcrowded market.
Despite Portugal terroirs is not as extensive as Italy or France, it temperate, maritime climate still offers plenty of variations and therefore opportunities for wine makers.