Portugal is one of the most traditional wine producing countries in the world, where classic wines were created, such as Porto and Madeira Wine. With over 250 types of native grapes grown in its vineyards, the country is responsible for the elaboration of Portuguese wines that enchant the most demanding names of specialized critics. Until a few years ago, the great Portuguese wines were limited to fortified wines, but today Portugal is experiencing a wine revolution, displaying world class products that are able to compete with the best produced in Europe and the New World. The warm climate of some regions, combined with the privileged terroir and the technical production techniques used in the production of their wines, is guaranteed in Portugal concentrated, complex and unique wines, usually with excellent value for money. In addition to the international varieties, which adapt very well to the Portuguese climate and soil, such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay grapes, Portugal contain an incredible variety of indigenous varieties, including some – such as Touriga Nacional – which have already use among the best grapes in the world for the production of fine wines. Although Touriga Nacional is widely used in the making of Portuguese wines and considered one of the largest Portuguese wines, other native grapes also receive or deserve highlight, such as Castelão, Baga, Trincadeira and Touriga Franca red grape varieties. The most used white grapes in the country are the native varieties Fernão Pires, Alvarinho, Encruzado and Arinto. The strains give rise to refreshing white Portuguese wines, including the famous Portuguese Vinho Verde, known for being affordable, and have floral aromas. The wines of Portugal are sparkling and expressed in the palate acidity and lightness. Undoubtedly, Portugal produces some of the world’s greatest wine treasures with a wide variety of styles and prices to suit every budget, pleasing the most demanding wine critics.
History of the wine
The origin of the first vineyards in Portuguese territory dates back to Classical Antiquity, when the region was influenced by peoples of Phenicia, Greece and the Roman Empire. It was during the era of rule over the entire Mediterranean Sea that the Romans began the organized cultivation of vineyards in Portugal. The Tagus River mouth region was the first to receive the plantations, and the oldest records date from the 2nd century BC. For a long time grape cultivation was key in Lusitania, but the end of Roman rule also marked the overthrow of grapes in Portugal. The barbarian invasions during the 400 AC and the rule of the Arabs from the 700 AC were hard blows in the production of Portuguese wines. Production was resumed only as Christianity advanced across Europe and became the dominant religion on the continent. The use of wine in the eucharist ritual has rekindled the cultivation of grapes in almost all Christian countries.
Vinho Verde is a light drink, low in alcohol, sharp acidity and slightly gaseous. Despite the name, the wine does not have an intense green color. It can be red, white or rosé. The name of this drink comes not from the color itself, but from a tribute to a particular Portuguese region located between the Douro and Minho rivers, well known for being beautiful and green. Currently the Green Wines are produced in a demarcated territory in the northwest of the country. The control of its elaboration is so restricted that there is a commission responsible for evaluating the production. Every bottle produced there carries a guarantee seal that certifies that that wine was produced in the Vinho Verde Region. The region corresponds to 65 thousand hectares of plantation (20% of the Portuguese total) and has a very traditional system in which the vine is planted next to trees, allowing them to grow freely and being linked to their trunks.
Port Wine and the Douro region
The Douro region is considered the most famous in Portugal. Owner of beautiful landscapes bathed by the river of the same name, the region is considered a world heritage site by UNESCO. The wine culture has been in the region for over 2 millennia and is where the famous Port wine came from. Although not the only producer, the Alto Douro region is responsible for 47% of the production of this wine in the country. The cities of Régua and Pinhão are known as the two main centers of Port Wine production. Unlike other wines, this variation is made from an incomplete fermentation of grape must, which suffers the addition of a neutral wine brandy. The result is a sweeter, viscous and alcoholic liquid. There are three common variations of Port, which are Tawny, Ruby and White, but there are more exquisite ones such as Reserva, Vintage and Late Bottled Vintage.
The Alentejo and its castes
Although the Vinho Verde Region and the Douro Region are major producers of wines, both are characterized more by the more “authentic” drinks than by the production of the more traditional variations of wine. The major area responsible for “classic” wines is the Alentejo Region. As the name already explains, the region is below the Tagus River (main Portuguese watercourse that crosses the country from east to west) and encompasses the districts of Portalegre, Évora, Beja and parts of the districts of Setúbal and Santarém. It is the largest region in Portugal, which concentrates over 22,000 hectares of planted vineyards and is where the largest number of native grape varieties in the world is concentrated.
Portugal is marked by its native grape species that can only be found here. This feature makes Portuguese wines have unique flavor and aromas.
The main Alentejo varieties are:
- Alicante Bouschet;
- Touriga Nacional;
- and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Among the white ones, the most cultivated are Antão Vaz, Arinto, Roupeiro and Fernão Pires.
Visit a 19th-Century Winery
This is one of the most prestigious farms, producing wines in the hands of the same family for four generations. The farm goal is to modernize, innovate, and to meet the standards of the most demanding consumer. The farm has undergone modernization over the past few years: vines were re-established based on traditional varieties as well as new varieties to meet market demand.
You arrive at the winery farm and we introduce you the producer. She tells you the story of the farm, and we go walk to the vineyards and to the 19th-century gardens around the family house. We visit an old distillery that was in use until 1970, producing brandies and grappa. After, we visit a pressing-room with stone and wood manual winepresses dated to 1871. This is an authentic experience, and you get to visit an aging cellar of liquor wines and brandies with 36 barrels, and you taste seven different wines. The vineyards are planted on gentle slopes of sandy-clay soils.
Grapes from our producer are used to produce a lot of wines. Vineyards are planted on gentle slopes of sandy-clay soils. The varieties found on these vineyards are:
White: Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Vital, and Verdelho
Red: Castelao, Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Aragonez, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon
Discover a 19th-Century Winery and take the best wine tasting tour.
Golden Grape Wine Tasting Tour
Golden Grape Farm has been the scene of battles during the French invasions and has three decades of history of wine production. The winery has been designed to work the old-fashioned wines with the latest technology. The best grapes ferment in traditional granite wineries. Through the process of maceration and reassembly, with the traditional step on foot, it is possible to extract the compounds of the grape that most interest winemakers. Aware of the responsibility and the environmental impact of the farm, the grapes are organic, without the use of chemicals. Vineyards, orchards, olive groves, and hives fit into a biological production mode, resulting in wine, olive oil, and honey with intense and exquisite flavours.
Here the tradition of old-fashioned wine is kept alive. With the technique that the Romans brought over 2.000 years ago, we produce wine from amphora, better known in the Alentejo region as wine to the carving. The main varieties are Castelão, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tinta Roriz, Alicante Bouschet, and Syrah. Tradition says that the end of the harvest should be celebrated with Adiafa — the banquet of the workers — and the Caramelas Ball — where boys used to date girls who arrived at Ribatejo and ended up marrying and staying at these stops.
You finish this day with a wealth of knowledge about production techniques, history, and the freshness, intensity, and variety that quality wine can offer.
Sintra Wine & Local Wineries Experience
Colares wine boasts an incomparable history from the birth of the nation through the writings of various figures such as Eça de Queiroz and Lord Byron. Vines planted in sandy soils and maritime climates must be handled with great care and must be cultivated in small-scale vineyards, which are worked manually.
As well as being produced under very special microclimatic conditions, these vines come from native grape varieties such as Ramisco (red) and Malvasia de Colares (white) and are highly appreciated by some of the most respected names in international oenology. As a result of the combination of human and viticulturist factors, each bottle constitutes a very special heritage and is a veritable collector’s item.
Discover the wines of Sintra in a family-estate property in a local winery. This is no ordinary Sintra tour, but rather a wine experience in this magical coast.