Portugal has a diverse landscape, and as diverse as the country is, so are its wines. The long coastline, the inland, the north-south extension influence the climate and microclimates can be found everywhere.So each region, village or valley has different grapes that were traditionally planted there. They can often still be found today, even if the “big” varieties have gained the upper hand. Nevertheless, the diversity of varieties is enormous: around 250 autochthonous grape varieties are registered for wine production.
Portugal has a vineyard area of about 239,000 hectares, which makes it the seventh largest in the world in terms of area. In this area an annual production of about 6 – 7 million hectolitres wine is produced. In the ranking of annual production worldwide, Portugal is thus in 11th place. Quite impressiv for a small country like Portugal. About 15 % of Portugal’s working population lives from wine growing. The annual wine consumption in Portugal is 42 – 43 litres per capita – mostely portuguese wine.
Most important Grapes for portuguese Wine Production
The most important varieties grown in Portugal include:
- Touriga Nacional | aromatic, tart, full-bodied
- Castelão | fruity, raspberry, cedar aroma after ageing
- Touriga Franca | dense, fragrant, with velvety tannins
- Baga | firm, long-lasting, intense
- Tinta Roriz / Aragonês red-fruity, charming
- Trincadeira / Tinta Amarela shiny, raspberry-like
- Alvarinho | fine, mineral, tropical fruity, floral
- Fernão Pires / Maria Gomes | floral and fruity
- Arinto / Pedernã | lemony, crisp and mineral
- Encruzado | fine, full-bodied white Dãos
So depending on the region you will find a variety of Wine with different grapes. It is therefore also tradition that the wines are blended. The different vines are cultivated on a small scale. This ensures that on the one hand the diversity is preserved, but also increases the chance that the yield will be good. Because depending on the year, one or the other grape grows stronger. The winemaker can play with the variety of grapes, because each grape brings its own notes, aromas and characteristics. The starchy and tannin-rich grapes are mixed with the sweet and fruity varieties so that the wine is harmonised.
More and more, mono-casta / pure wine can also be found. In this way, the character of the individual grape can also become apparent to the consumer.
To discover the diversity, I advise you to visit each region to understand the uniqueness of the landscape, and thus to understand the connection between the grape, the wine, the culture and the landscape. Portugal is waiting for you!