This map is borrowed from the Winesworld, The Amateur wine Guide website. For me and what I’m trying to do (understand all that I can about Portuguese wines) there’s no easier map to follow.
Portugal, like all other wine grape growing countries, had distinct regions. While Port and Madeira are the most recognized styles associated with Portuguese wines, there are also lighter styles that are very interesting to taste an enjoy.
Portugal is one of the world’s most historically important wine regions. Its history dates back to Roman and Arabic invader, both of whom introduced vinifera grapes to Portugal.
- Rome invades Portual (55 BC)
- Arabs invade Portugal (712 AD)
Today, Portugal is finally coming into its own as one of the world’s hidden wine treasures… One which deserves a much brighter spotlight than it’s enjoyed before now. The country has many unique qualities that are also attributed to its indigenous grape varieties. Wine grapes of Portugal thrive in its temperate, maritime climate.
The sub-regions of Portugal are below.
You’ll notice that the area with the region have DOC following their names. The Portuguese Denominação de Origem Controlada (or DOC) is the system of protected designation of origin for wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products from Portugal.
Beginning on the left of this map, and working our way south, as far as the Madeira Island, with descriptions of these wines coming from T. Stevenson’s “The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia,” (Third Edition) published by Dorling Kindersley 2005 ISBN 0756613248, are the following:
Rios de Minho
- Vinho Verde DOC ~ The name literally means “Green Wine,” referring to its youthful freshness rather than its color.
- Douro DOC ~ Douro is one of the major rivers of the Iberian Peninsula, originating in Spain, and then entering Portugal to the northeast of the country.
- Porto DOC ~ Porto, the city, is located in the estuary of the Douro River in northern Portugal. The largest city in the region, Porto is considered the economic and cultural heart of the entire region.
- Bairrada DOC ~ It is located close to the Atlantic which ocean currents have a moderating affect on the climate.
- Vinho do Dão DOC ~ It is one of the oldest established wine regions in Portugal. Dão wine is produced in a mountainous region with a temperate climate. This region is the origin of the Touriga Nacional vine, the principle component of Port wine.
- Bucelas DOC ~ This region is noted for its cool fermentation, white wine production. Vineyards in the area are planted on predominately loam soils.
- Carcavelos DOC ~ Located at the very southern tip of the Estremadura region, it has a long wine making history dating back to the eighteenth century, when the Marquis of Pombal owned vineyards here. The region is known for its fortified wine production, creating off dry, topaz colored wines that have nutty aromas and flavors.
- Colares DOC ~ Vineyards in the area are protected from the strong ocean winds by sandy dunes. The sand based soils have also had the benefit of keeping the phylloxera louse at bay. The ungrafted Ramisco vines of the Colares region are some of the oldest in Portugal. The region is known for its deep colored, full bodied red wines that are high in astringent tannins.
Ribatejo ~ The region is dominated by the influence of the Tagus river. The river moderates the region’s climate, making it more temperate than other areas of Portugal. Vineyards are planted on the fertile alluvial plains along the river and can be prone to producing excessive yields.
- Portalegre DOC ~ Located along the Spanish border, it is Alentejo northernmost major wine region. The area is known for its powerful, spicy red wines and highly alcoholic white wines.
- Borba DOC ~ Borba is located south of the Portalegre DOC and north of the Redondo DOC. It was the first subappellation in Alentejo to gain international attention for the quality of its wines.
- Redondo DOC ~ The region is bordered by the Borba DOC to the northeast, the Evora IPR to the west, and the Reguengos DOC to the southeast. The area is known predominately for its fruity red wines.
- Reguengos DOC ~ The region is bordered by the Redondo DOC to the north and the Granja Amareleja IPR to the southeast.
- Vidigueira DOC ~ The region is bordered by the Reguengos DOC to the northeast, and the Moura IPR to the southeast. Viticulture has a long history in the volcanic soils of the region, with name Vidigueira itself being derived from the Portuguese videira meaning “wine.”
Terras do Sado
- Setúbal DOC ~ The region is known primarily for its fortified Muscat wines known as Moscatel de Setúbal.
- Lagos DOC ~ Located on the southwestern corner of Algarve, the region is bordered to the east by the Portimão DOC.
- Lagoa DOC ~ The region is bordered to the west by the Portimão DOC and to the east by Tavira DOC. The region has been historically known for its fortified wine production but has been expanding its table wine production in recent years.
- Portimão DOC ~ The region is bordered by the Lagoa DOC to the east and the Lagos DOC to the west.
- Tavira DOC ~ Extending to the Spanish border, the region is flanked on the west by the Lagoa DOC.
- Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago, located in the mid Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Portugal. It lies southwest of the Iberian Peninsula, and is one of the autonomous regions of Portugal.
As I continue to work with Enoforum Wines from Alentejo, I’ll have more information, wines to taste, and their profiles to share.
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