Despite its relatively small territory, this country benefits from several very different climates. Mostly maritime due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, some regions, remote from the sea, are particularly hot and dry. The north is cooler while the south has a more continental, even Mediterranean climate. In the far north, the Vinho Verde region is famous for its light reds and whites, sometimes with a slight sparkling touch for the latter. Further inland is the Douro, 80 km east of Porto. This is port territory alongside more and more red wines, with vines planted on terraces on schist soils.
The origins of port go back to the early 17th century, a period when the English could not obtain French wine due to an embargo conducted by Louis XIV. They turned towards Portugal, but the wine could hardly withstand transport. The solution tested at the time was to add alcohol to stabilize the product. You will therefore have understood that port belongs to the category of fortified wines, which implies that an alcohol has been added at a stage in its production, after the fermentation of the wine in this case. A little further south are located the regions of Bairrada and Dão. The Bairrada appellation is known for its sparkling wines, made with the Baga grape variety, which also produces rather tannic red wines. The Dão is further in the mountains, producing more elegant reds on granitic soils. Full southeast is the Alentejo appellation, which occupies almost a third of the country with blended wines, a little more rustic and especially reds, due to the warmer temperature.
Portugal distinguishes itself by its panoply of indigenous grape varieties, more than 500 different varieties, 250 of which are indigenous. Moreover, which is nothing to help us, the same grape variety may have a different name depending on the region where it is produced. This is the case of the Baga grape variety, which has 25 synonyms! For the elaboration of port, five grape varieties are used, namely touriga nacional, touriga franca, tinta roriz, tinta barroca and tinta cão. Also know that there is the Amor-não-me-deixes, which means “do not leave me, my love”!
The popularity of port has declined worldwide and particularly in Quebec, a decrease of about 60% compared to 20 years ago. Fortunately, most producers have, for the most part, seen this coming by putting the emphasis on red wine production. Recently, at the Grande Dégustation de Montréal, where Portugal was the star, we were able to taste the know-how of the producers of this country. The Marquez Borba Reserva wines were mixed with the Pêra-Manca, all exceptional wines. It should also be mentioned that their entry-level wines often offer a very interesting price to quality ratio.
Here are some ways to get to know Portugal better:
Astronauta Arinto Vinho Verde 2018
White wine, 750 ml
Code SAQ : 13491161 | Regular price : 17,85 $
Cortes de Cima Aragonez 2014
Red wine, 750 ml
Code SAQ : 10223726 | Regular price : 33,75 $
Chryseia Prats & Symington Lda Douro 2014
Red wine, 750 ml
Code SAQ : 13608808 | Regular price : 95,75 $