Seems like everyone is talking about Portugal. More than ever, it surely is becoming a must destination for wine lovers, thanks to the amazing wine values you will find.
When you think about Portugal and wine your first thought will probably be Port wine. The terraced stair steps with breathtaking views of vineyards along the hills of the Douro River have been worked by hand for centuries. It’s so majestic and extraordinary that the entire region was made a UNESCO world heritage site.
But there is so much more to the wine culture here, as there are many grape varieties that do not grow anywhere else in the world. Well over 250 indigenous varieties and some imports have adapted well to the Portuguese landscape and climate.
If you are traveling to Lisbon, you won’t be disappointed with the number of choices available.
The region of Lisbon, previously known as Estremadura, is located northwest of Lisbon in an area of about 40 km. The climate is influenced by the proximity to the Atlantic. Summers are cool and the winters are mild.
This region has perfect conditions to produce quality wines, however, in a near past, it was essentially known for producing quantity but low-quality wine. The area underwent a process of restructuring both vineyards and wineries. The main focus was vineyards since the new vine varieties planted were chosen due to quality instead of production quantity.
Today Lisbon Region wines are known for their great value for money. The region concentrated on the cultivation of the best Portuguese and foreign grape varieties and in 1993 the category “Vinho Regional da Estremadura – Regional Wine of Estremadura”, now “Vinho Regional Lisboa – Regional Wine of Lisbon” was created. The new category encouraged producers to study the potential of different vine varieties, and at present most of the wines produced in the Lisbon region are classified as Regional.
Wine quality in Portugal is classified by 3 levels. Be sure to check the label to identify what you are looking for.
DOC or DOP(Denominação de Origem Controlada) wine comes from a defined geographical area with recommended and permitted grapes and maximum vine yields (to control quality). There are 31 DOCs in Vinho Regional (or IGP): The country is divided into 14 regional wine (“vinho regional”) areas with less strict rules for controlling which types of grapes are used as well as maximum vine yields. Wines may not be as high quality but leave room for creativity since pioneer producers use the designation to create exquisite wines using grapes or blends that are not allowed in DOC.
Our next port (Part 2) we’ll talk about the basic classification of Portuguese table wine.
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