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Snooth User: ReubenM

Feelings on Portuguese Wines?

Posted by ReubenM, Jul 30, 2014.

I'm Reuben M and I believe Portugal is the rising star of the wine world. Who agrees?


Reply by GregT, Jul 30, 2014.

". . .the rising star of the wine world."

OK. BTW, they've been making wine in Portugal for centuries.

Reply by ReubenM, Jul 30, 2014.

Indeed, Portugal has been producing wine since at least the time of the Greeks, and its vineyard area and plantings were vastly expanded by the Romans. The appellation system of the Douro region was created nearly two hundred years before that of France,

Trouble is, with the exception of fortified wines like Port, most of its output has traditionally been crap. That's changing though and in the last 15 years the improvement has been remarkable... so much so that I consider Portuguese wines, especially the reds, to be skyrocketing in quality while remaining affordable.

If you have an interest in Portuguese wines, look up Wine Times Macau on Facebook.

Reply by dmcker, Jul 30, 2014.

Hey, I was drinking good Portuguese wine in Macao back in the '70s.  And that's saying something since most of the wine there was oxidized by the time it got there even if it hadn't  started that way; almost no one had even heard of refrigerated containers....  ;-(

Thanks for showing up here, Reuben. Hope this just isn't a plug for your FB page, but you're willing to present and discuss wines here with us. 

Would love to hear more about the reds you particularly like right now, to start with!

Reply by EMark, Jul 30, 2014.

About a year ago in one of the "big box" wine stores, I wandered by the Portugal section and noticed that the prices were very attractive.  My previous experience with Portuguese wines (ignoring those early learning experiences with Lancers) had been Vinho Verde, all of which I had enjoyed very much.  I picked up a few bottles of reds and whites from Dao and Douro.  I don't think any of them cost more than $15.  All of them were pretty darned good.  

Reply by duncan 906, Jul 30, 2014.

I went to the Algarve a few years ago and liked all the local red wines that were served to me although it was so long ago I have forgotten what they were.There are certainly some nice wines to be had there

Reply by GregT, Jul 30, 2014.

The reason Portuguese wines were mostly crap was first, the government for much of the twentieth century and second, most of the best reds went into Port. Because there's such a small market for Port these days, those wineries started experimenting with dry wines and they've done marvelously well. Unfortunately, many of those wines are expensive. The hillsides are steep and it's hard to work them. So in places like the US, people are going to have to pay $40 for a wine they've never heard of that has maybe ten years of track record. It's a hard sell.

Portugal has been an up and coming country for about 20 years now but its production is relatively small and it doesn't have the presence in the $10 - $15 range that get people to take the first plunge. There are plenty of good producers these days and the market is ruthless.

Also, a lot of the wines that I've tried tend to be kind of generic. They're good, but not unique in a that lets you immediately say it's not from California or somewhere else. Partly that's because there are a lot of international consultants working for the various houses and they're including lots of Cab, etc., in the blends. There are guys like Luis Pato making Baga in Bairrada but they need more folks like him.

Of course, Vinho Verde remains one of the best buys in the wine world. There's a lot of junk but some is really good and amazingly cheap.

Reply by dvogler, Jul 30, 2014.

Greg, isn't the Vinho Verde what you and Richard were drinking at his place before dinner?  :)


Reply by ReubenM, Jul 30, 2014.

As it happens I live in Macau and have for a number of years (18 years in Hong Kong before that-- an hour away), and have a home in Portugal as well. GREGT, I'm in complete agreement: production is small, and inconsistent to boot: Portugal is intensely rural and many communities simply pool their grapes and make village wine. Little of this is exported per se, but it does form a "wine lake" which many exporters utilise when making their blends. Makers like Paolo Laureano and Luis Pato are definitely pushing the industry in a new direction-- much to its benefit, in my opinion-- though there is some complaint that local grapes are being abandoned in favour of international varieties. There is indeed a lot of rubbish, but it's not uncommon to find a Portuguese gem that's far better than its price would indicate,  and I suspect this is true in the US/UK as well.  As a Portuguese friend so succinctly told me last week: "We make some great wines. We just suck at marketing."

DMCKER, some of my favourites are old standbys like Palacio de Bacalhôa, and Marques de Borba Reserva, but I also like the new direction mentioned above, displayed by wineries such as Duorum,  founded in 2007 by João Portugal Ramos and José Soares Franco, two of Portugal’s most renowned oenologists, and Plansel Selecta. I tend to prefer wines from the Douro and Alentejo regions.

Reply by GregT, Jul 31, 2014.

dvogler - that's why I worded my comment so carefully! Yes, that's what we had!

The Portuguese have another problem these days because their economy isn't that great so they don't have the money to market their wines. There's a trade commission that brings their wines around each year and it seems like the budget has decreased over the past number of years. Too bad because wine is one area that could really help their economy.

Instead, the Portuguese are fighting like hell to convince everyone to keep using cork while the Australians are planting Portuguese grapes and you can get Touriga Nacional, etc., from Australia these days. Cork is a huge bit of their economy, but wine could be a growing part of it.

Reply by Luke Moro, Aug 4, 2014.

This is good information on Portuguese wine and winemakers. I will get some for me on my upcoming visit there.

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