On the Road with the Grape Guy

Wines of Lisbon (Lisboa) Portugal – Day 1 & 2

13 Feb 2018

Four days … 12 wineries … 50+ wines … and a few observations:

Portugal’s key selling factor is its indigenous grape varieties (250 at last count), about 50 are used throughout and more have other names in different regions (ie: Tinta Roriz = Aragonez), but there are still about 200 finding their way into bottles of wine – some with barely even a mention.

What Portugal doesn’t need is to be making international variety wines like Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon (reds); Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc (whites) – but there are two factors causing them to use these grapes … these two factors were given to me by two different sources.

1) Portugal owns its wine market, which means the people of Portugal drink Portuguese wines. Approximately 94% of wine bought in Portugal is made in Portugal so they rarely see Syrah, Cabernets, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Pinot Noir unless it’s being made in their own backyard.

2) With so many indigenous varieties the export markets might feel inundated or confused by what Portugal is offering – a label with Touriga Nacional, Castelao and Aragonez might seem daunting and too foreign for the average consumer – but tuck a little Syrah into that blend and you’ve got yourself a recognizable grape that might spark the interest of the purchaser.

Below I look at the Day 1 & 2 wines that sparked my interest during my Lisbon jaunt – on these days we covered 7 wineries and these are the wines that impressed:

To read further insights see day 3 & 4

set up in 1998 to sell primarily to the UK market, today they sell approximately 54 brands (~110 wines) into 54 countries.
2015 Portada (*** ½+)
2016 Escada (*** ½+)
2013 Quinta do Rocio (*** ½+)
2015 Francos (****)

Fazendas de Estremadura (Vale Zias) …
a 50 year old company that started as a bulk wine producer, 10 years ago they started bottling their wines (while still selling some bulk wines) – they make three wines only.
2013 Syrah – unoaked (*** ½+)
2013 Grand Escolha – unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon

Sartal …
2016 Quinta Sao Jeromino Chardonnay (*** ½)
2013 Quinta da Vassala Tinto Reserva (*** ½+)

Sanguinhal …
family owned wine company that produces wine under three labels: Sanguinhal, Cerejeiras and S. Francisco.
2016 Quinta de S Francisco Obidos, white (*** ½+)
2015 Quinta de S Francisco Obidos, red (*** ½+)

Sao Mamede de Ventosa …
a co-op winery with 35 million litre capacity and control of 1850 acres.
2014 Alma Vitis, red (*** ½+)

Quinta do Gradil …
property bought in 1999, palace on the property dates back to 1750; they have 120 hectares planted in a 50/50 split of international and indigenous and red and white.
2016 Mula Velha (Old Mule) – (****)
2015 Quinta do Gradil Riserva (****)
2015 Quinta do Gradil Syrah (*** ½+)

Quinta do Rol …
produce only white wines, except for a lone Pinot Noir, they also make two sparkling wines: a Pinot Noir Rosé and a Blanc de Blanc from Chardonnay.
2015 Fernao Pires (*** ½+)
2009 Grande Reserva Rose (****)
2009 Grande Reserva Blanc de Blanc (****)
Extra: Tic Tac 2012 Merlot (****)


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