Wine Discoveries: Tour through Portugal

Portugal, for a small country, has fourteen wine regions. My knowledge of Portuguese wine is light so when I saw Planet Wine, my local wine shop, doing a tasting, I thought it would be a fun tour.

Of the fourteen wine regions, you’re probably most familiar with…

  • Vino Verde: Biggest and northernmost wine region in the country famous for wines of that same name.
  • Duoro: Home of Port wine and now nice unfortified wines made from the same grapes, this region follows the River Duoro to the city of Oporto or Porto on the Atlantic Ocean. (Note ‘fortified’ wines like Port mean a spirit is added it to it.)
  • Madeira: Island off of Portugal producing sweet fortified wine of the same name.

Wine regions in Portugal are designated DOC / DOP (Designation of Origin similar to France) or IG / IGP (Protected Geographical Indication). The later, while regulated, says there only needs to be 85% of grapes from that region in it.

Red and white grapes are grown in Portugal, many of the varieties indigenous to the country. Here are the most common…

  • White (16 varietals): Alvarinho, Loureiro, Encruzado, Bicla, Arinto
  • Red (17 varietals): Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (known as Tempranillo in Spain), Touriga Franca, Baga, Periquita

The Planet Wine tasting was a great basic eduction focusing on the three main regions with five wines.

Las Lilas Vinho Verde 2010

  • Grape Variety:  Loureiro and Treixadura from Vinho Verde
  • Aroma: Light, citrus
  • Taste: Crisp, clean, lime
  • Price: $9.99
  • My thoughts: I discovered this grape varietal/wine last year and really like it! Very refreshing as it has a slight sparkle to it and is typically low in alcohol. It’s name means ‘green’ which is captured in the bottle… most Vinho Verde bottles have a blue tint to them and combined with the pale yellow wine makes it look green in color. Meant to be enjoyed young it’s a great summer wine. I bought a bottle of this.

Toural Red Tinto 2009

  • Grape Variety: 8 grape varieties from the Dão and Duoro regions
  • Aroma: Dark baked fruit
  • Taste: Berry, spice, hints of oak
  • Price: $7.99
  • My thoughts: A typical red table wine from Portugal, it’s very easy to drink, soft and a great price point.

Vidigal Dão 2010

  • Grape Variety: 50% Jaen, 30% Touriga Nacional, 20% Alfrochiero
  • Aroma: Baked cherry with hint of cinnamon
  • Taste: Cherry pie
  • Price: $10.99
  • My thoughts: Tim at Planet Wine said wines from the Dão region are typically Burgundian in style (Burgundy, France which is classic Pinot Noir), even the bottle is the Burgundy shape. Great way to capture it. Like Pinot Noir, this was a nice light bodied red. Again, great price point.
  • Grape Variety: 30% Touriga Franca, 25% Touriga Nacional, 20% Tinta Roriz, 20% Vinhas Velhas, and 5% Sousao
  • Aroma: Mineral, herbal
  • Taste: Baked blueberry and blackberry
  • Price: $26.99
  • My thoughts: Tim said Duoro wines tend to be like Bordeaux, France. Great descriptor as this wine was fuller bodied and more complex than the Dão. The other neat thing is these are the typical grapes used to make Port so it was great to taste them unfortified and not sweet. Really lovely wine full of berries!

Quinta Seara D’Ordens, Porto Fine Ruby

  • Grape Variety: Duoro grape varietals
  • Aroma: Raisin, plum, mineral
  • Taste: Sweet baked prunes with a hint of violet
  • Price: $15.99
  • My thoughts: I’m not a Port fan but this was a nice entry level. Ruby Ports are bottle aged, meant to be consumed young, less expensive. Tawny Ports are cask aged, finer, more expensive.

Thank you Tim at Planet Wine for the Portugal education and tasting, and Wines of Portugal, for more great information on Portuguese wine!

Cheers to Portugal!