It’s been a Portugal-heavy year for me, I have to admit – but I love it! Turns out, when given a few years to reflect on where I really want to be eating, drinking and exploring, it’s this beautiful, diversely-landscaped, long-thin sliver of a country.
In the UK, Spring saw Olly, Oz and I back in busy rooms at our Wines of Portugal Three Wine Men tasting in London and thinking back, I’ve barely held a personal tasting this year without slipping something Portuguese in the line-up. In preparation for the series of Summer and Winter Portuguese-themed tastings, I spent a very merry day tasting over 60 wines shortlisted from that superb Spring day (you can find my scores and notes for all below).
So, the idea is simple; for each of the tastings, I’ve selected six wines (following rigorous testing and re-tasting, rest assured!) that I feel best reflect what Portugal has to offer the drinker. For the Summer tasting that we hosted last week, I picked widely and generously – these are extraordinarily complex, exciting wines, in all the dry styles you could wish for; from light and fresh, minerally whites, chillable reds, through to textural, rich wines of both colours that demand attention. There is age and maturity represented here, funky ‘natural’ ferments, pristinely made single indigenous varietal wines and Portugal’s speciality; preconception-challenging field blends too.
We had a brilliant tasting session and I introduced the key concepts, varietals, people and stories of the regions featured – taking us from the Minho river in the far North, all the way down the Atlantic coast through Douro, Dão, Lisboa, Tejo and inland and up a hill, to Alentejo – if you missed it, you can watch a recording and catch up!
The truly exciting thing for me about Portuguese wine is its originality, its distinct sense of place and the culture surrounding it. It’s at once highly-traditional, celebrating unique grapes grown exclusively in tiny pockets of the country and innovative, perpetually creative and dynamic. There is little stuffiness and pomposity here; there is class and elegance and heritage, but through a gastronomic, perhaps a little hedonistic lens.
Tom tasted through a brilliant selection of wines from different producers across Portugal in order to put together the line-ups for his Summer and Winter virtual tastings – you can see his scores and tasting notes for all the wines submitted below (PS. click on the wine name to be directed to the producers’ website where you can find out more about them). Or also check out Wines Of Portugal website for loads more information.
P.S. For the second tasting in the series, Tom will be exploring perfect winter-warming wines from Portugal on Thursday 20th October – you can find out more here.