Portgual; Europe’s westernmost wine growing country is best known for Port, but there is so much more… the huge range of 250 indigenous grape varieties found nowhere else gives the wines unique character. If you’re looking for a truly distinctive wine destination you’ll find it all here.
Douro Valley, the river has created some of Europe’s most breath-takingly beautiful scenery and vines flourish on the steep terraces cut out of the land. Rich, robust reds are produced as well as ports. Vinho Verde, Dao, Bairrada, Alentejo, Lisboa and Setubal complete the line-up of mainland regions. But the list is not complete without the unique island of Madeira which sits in the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Africa.
Guaranteed to provide novel flavours and aromas, whites varieties include Arinto, Bical, Loureiro and Rupiero; and reds Aragonez, Baga, Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira and Vinhao! Port has 5 main grapes. And in Madeira the 4 ‘noble’ grapes are Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malmsey, though Tinta Negra Mole accounts for 85% of plantings.
Mainland Portugal has a Mediterranean climate with warm dry summers and mild, wet autumns and winters. In the northern/coastal areas there is a strong Atlantic influence with high rainfall. In general, temperatures are higher in the south (e.g. Alentejo) and lower in the north. Soils vary widely from the steeply terraced alluvial vineyards of the Douro Valley; to fertile clay in Bairrada; to the flat sandy plains of Setubal; and to the undulating limestone hills of Alentejo. Madeira has a temperate, maritime climate and soils are volcanic/basalt.
Past Tours to Portugal
Porto & Douro Valley
Porto is pretty, Porto is edgy. We experienced both aspects in our fabulous wine tour to Northern Portugal. The port lodges of Porto opened up their secrets to us. We had fun riding tuk-tuks around the city. We felt adventurous travelling up the Douro by train and boat; marvelling at the steep, terraced, river-lined vineyards. And of course we tried different styles of port wines and the divine local dishes. Portugal, we miss you already.
We kicked off this 4-day tour organised by our guest wine expert, Nancy Gilchrist MW, with a visit to the Madeira Wine Institute. At Pereira D’Oliviera we tasted an extraordinary range of this small island’s treasures with vintages from 1989, 1977, 1968, 1932 – and the highlight…a 1907 Malvasia! A tasting at Henriques & Henriques finished with a 50 year old Tinta Negra Mole, and tours at Barbeito and Blandys, the oldest producer on the island, provided a unique insight to the wines of this stunning volcanic island.