Tag Archives: portugal

Exploring Portugal

Misty rolling hills are home to Vinho Verde white wine varietals
Misty rolling hills are home to Vinho Verde white wine varietals

In early May, I had the pleasure of joining a group of five retail wine buyers on a whirlwind tour of Portugal’s wine regions. Our lucky group spent the next seven days discovering the beautiful landscape, forward-thinking winemakers, and incredible wines to be found in this corner of Europe.

Our trip began in the rainy northern Minho region, where excellent white wines are produced. Varietals such as Alvarinho, Loureiro and Avesso are just some of the varietals that are grown in this lushly green land. Naturally low in alcohol and extremely refreshing, these are wines perfect to stock up on for summer.


Incredible history in Douro Valley. Yes, that reads 1795!
Incredible history in Douro Valley. Yes, that reads 1795!

Douro Valley was quite a contrast to Vinho Verde – lushly rich reds were the standout wines from this region traditionally known for their Port wine. Terraced hillsides are full of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Barroca. The history in this region is incredible – we regularly spoke with 4th and 5th generation winemakers tending their family vineyards.

One of the biggest finds of my trip was my discovery of the wines of the Dao Region. Cool climate reds and whites are being produced by some of the finest winemakers in Portugal. I predict sommeliers, wine geeks, and reviewers to “discover” this region very soon.

Old school labels, new school winemaking in Portugal's Dao region
Old school labels, new school winemaking in Portugal’s Dao region


Talking shop with Lisbon area winery owners
Talking shop with Lisbon area winery owners

Moving south, the trip ended in the wine region closest to Portugal’s capital Lisbon. New winery owners are using modern techniques at their centuries-old estates once owned by Lisbon’s aristocrats. Here, the climate and land are Mediterranean – and the wines follow suit. Rhone blends are having great success.

Portugal is  an old world country ready to be re-discovered by wine lovers. I predict that the refreshing and unique white wines along with the dense and complex red wines will take the wine world by storm soon, appealing to the value-seeking and collector wine lovers alike.

Still loving California, but growing more adventurous!

The customers of Wine.com were California Dreaming in 2010, according to the numbers – the region topped our list of most bottles sold and came in with about 40% growth. And why not? California represents some of the most delicious wines in the world, from value to collectible, and the diversity of varieties is so broad, it pleases a Pinot lover as well as a Zinfandel fanatic. That said, we still saw a lot of Napa Valley purchases – that region’s growth was up 92%. Guess that goes with the numbers that show Cabernet Sauvignon was the number one grape variety as well.

But beyond the California borders, we’re excited about what other regions people are trying, like Beaujolais. Often associated with only Beaujolais Nouveau, drinkers are discovering the delicious diversity and quality of Beaujolais Villages and Beaujolais Crus. Not to mention, 2009 was a fantastic vintage for the region, so great wines at great values were good for all. Bordeaux was also up – another region that enjoyed the 2009 vintage. Portugal came in third at 79%, and that was not just for Port. Dry reds from Portugal, as well as refreshing whites, are finally getting the recognition they deserve. South Africa rounded out the top 4 growth regions – maybe a World Cup boost?

So it looks like 2010 was a year of both traditional drinking and adventurous tasting. We look forward to what 2011 brings!