Portugal Wine Country

By Harold J. Baer, JR
Photography Christopher J. Davies

An American colonist would have ordered Madeira. More recently the choice
would be Port or perhaps Vinho Verde or inexpensive Rosé. But Portugal
produces a wide range of tasty wines from its twenty-nine DOCs and eleven
Vinho Regionals. Today vintners are making desirable wines not only from the
over two hundred indigenous varieties but also in from Bordeaux and Rhône
grape varietals.

The recent opportunity to visit three DOCs: Bairrada, Beira Interior, and
Dão, and speak with a number of winemakers revealed just how good are some
of Portugal’s current offerings. The winemakers visited ranged from small to
fairly large and even included small and large cooperatives. They were
making wines with native varieties and French ones both as single variety
bottlings and as often complicated blends. Some vintners are very
traditional even to the cobwebs hanging from cellar ceilings. Some use only
the most modern equipment and techniques. Some use a combination of old and
new methods. All the approaches can produce good wines. A few of the
winemakers make spectacular ones. But in almost all cases, the result is
wines that complement food. The next issue of VinoTasting will explore some
of the wines from these three DOCs.

Of course, there are more reasons to visit Portugal than its wines. Whether
you go for the beaches, the cultural activities, the historic sites, the
food or the Fado, you will find a country with friendly people and enjoyable
local wines. An added bonus is that all of these can be enjoyed at modest
prices. HB

Read our reviews of Portugal wines. Click here