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Alentejo,Imports,Portugal,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Writer

Portuguese Wines ~ What the Experts Are Saying ~ An Update

Working with Enoforum Wines from the Alentejo Region of Portugal, I’m intrigued by what others have to say about Portuguese wines. I’ve personally found Portuguese wines to be a tremendous value. This has a lot to do with the cost of living and making wine in Portugal versus the cost of doing the same in the California (and other states), beginning with our land values…

Example:

For sale in St. Helena, 10 acres of vines, 14.4 acres total with home ~ $11,000,000 ~ St. Helena Winery Estate. Rare opportunity to own one of the premium vineyards & beautiful winery estate in Napa Valley. Approx.15 acres & 10 acres of vineyards. All the makings of the ultimate Napa Valley lifestyle…estate grown vineyards, winery & a grand country French estate created by renowned architect Sandy Walker & the landscape architect, Jack Chandler designed an exquisite dreamscape gardens, exotic gates & garden light fixtures.

In Portugal, on the other hand, land is not selling for such high prices, and these savings are passed along to the consumer. Wine writers around the globe know this, and write of Portugal that current best wine deals come from this global “Little Engine That Could.”

What writers are saying and have said about Portuguese wines…

UPDATE: May 13, 2011: Jeff Siegel, The Wine Curmudgeon ~

“Portuguese wines are all the rage. Quality has improved markedly over the past couple of years, as has availability. Sales are growing, and not just for the the most common wines, like vinho verde. Higher quality and even more expensive red and white table wines, the mainstay of any wine business, are becoming more common and more popular.

“In fact, I have had a half dozen or so top notch Portuguese wines over the past year, and that so many of them have been so good and have cost around $10 is worth an eventual Portuguese wine post. Until then, consider the Prazo ($17, sample), a red blend made with tinta roriz, the Portuguese version of tempranillo, touriga nacional, the classic port grape, and three others. As such, it could have been heavy and cloying, which was not unusual for this style of wine in the past.”

UPDATE: MAY 12, 2011: Gary Vaynerchuk, Portuguese Wine Tasting Video

“…we’re talking about a country that all of you know out there that I am massively passionate about and that’s Portugal. I think Portugal is massively under rated. I think dollar for dollar they bringing some of the best value wines in the world… Alentejo is really an up and coming area…”

UPDATE: May 6, 2011: Mary Orlin, The WineFashionista on Huffington Post, writes of Portuguese wines

10 Things You Don’t Know About Portuguese Wine, “#3. Portuguese wine equals value, value, value. Talk about bang for the buck. One advantage to Portuguese dry wines flying under the radar is that prices are reasonable. Whites under $10 and many complex reds under $30. Considering that the reds, somewhat tannic when young, have great aging ability, if you like to lay down your wines, seek out Portuguese red varietals and blends.”

UPDATE: May 6, 2011: Robert Parker, in his newest book, The World’s Greatest Wine Estates, writes of Portugal

“…the potential for creating exciting table wines is unquestionable…”

UPDATE: April 29, 2011: Lettie Teague of Food & Wine and Wall Street Journal

“…there are some truly outstanding wines made in Portugal, and many are very well-priced.”

UPDATE: March 23, 2011: Scott Hedley, Alexandria Times

“…today there’s much more to Portuguese wine than these old standard bearers. The country is actually one of the world’s largest producers of red and white (dry) table wine, and it’s well worth your while to explore what the current generation of Portuguese winemakers has to offer. Forget the drab, rustic and inexpensive brands like Mateus and Lancers, which had the unfortunate effect of tainting several generations’ opinion of Portuguese wine. Take note, instead, that the country’s wine industry is thrusting itself into the modern world, and we, fellow wine lovers, stand to be the happy beneficiaries.

“Portugal is now producing – and exporting to the United States – more and more high-quality table wines. Many are made from traditional and often indigenous (at least to the Iberian Peninsula) grape varieties you may not recognize (but don’t be daunted); many are produced by wineries that have painstakingly modernized their operations and raised the quality bar in an effort to compete on the international wine stage (reason for celebration); and many are delicious, affordable, and increasingly available at fine wine merchants (you have no excuse not to try some).”

Kim Marcus, Wine Spectator, April 30, 2011. P. 94-98

The Douro holds the quality reins, while the Dão and Alentejo score with values. ~ “Blessed with a diverse geography featuring a generally beneficial climate, Portugal grows a lot of grapes. This small, beautiful country is home to nearly 550,000 acres of vineyards-more than what is planted in all of Australia-that cultivate in excess of 90 grape varieties…. Quality is improving among the country’s table wines, and bargains abound.”

Peter Alig, The Everything Guide to WINE, All you need to know about buying, storing, serving, and enjoying the world’s most remarkable wines, Wine Educator at Robert Mondavi Winery, from the Everything series (Copyright 2010)

“Vineyards have flourished in Portugal since Roman times. The country may be better known for its stunning Ports and Madeiras, but its dry table wines are growing in esteem with each passing year. When Portugal joined the European Union in 1986, its wine laws were aligned with those of other Old World countries, namely the French Appellation of d’Origine Controllee system.” p. 75 ~

Evan Goldstein: Daring Pairings, A Master Sommelier Matches Distinctive Wines with Recipes from His Favorite Chefs (Copyright 2010)

“…anyone who has been to Portugal knows how wonderful its wines are, and how special the people and cuisine make this country. Bread still tastes like bread, wine still tastes like wine… Touriga Nacional… New dry wines incorporating this grape are scoring surprisingly well in the rankings of prominent wine critics.” p. 292 ~

Mark Oldman: Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine: Chapter 33 is devoted solely to Portuguese red wines. (Copyright 2010)

“Reds from Portugal: Richness and Distinction, but the Foot” ~ “What do you get with 15 men gathered in a shallow concrete basin, stomping, singing, and slapping each other playfully? Answer: A Fine Portuguese red…

Mark Oldman: Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine: Chapter 8 is devoted solely to Portugal’s Vinho Verde. (Copyright 2010)

“Vinho Verde: G&T, After a Diet and a Discount” ~ “I think of Vinho Verde as a gin and tonic after a diet and a discount, because not only is it crisp and light, with typically around 10% alcohol, and thus perfect for cocktail hour, but it is also one of the best bargains in all of wine, ususally requiring only a single-digit outlay.”

Jancis Robinson (February 8, 2011)

“When the first new wave of Portuguese wines hit the market a decade ago, they fueled a great swelling of national pride and concomitant price rises that made them look overpriced outside Portugal. In a more sober marketplace, prices are looking a little more reasonable. Both reds and whites are well worth a look.”

Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast (Feb. 2011)

“As these wines show up in your shops, what you should look for? The regions that come up again and again are the Douro, Alentejo and Vinho Verde…. The Alentejo is the southern Italy and Sicily of today; friendly wines packed with luscious, ripe fruit. Am I enthusiastic about these wines? Obviously, yes, and for good reason. Value-oriented, diverse and even a little exotic, Portuguese wines should be on your list for new explorations in 2011.”

Eric Asimov, The New York Times

“Today, Portugal is a source of distinctive wines. More than anything, these wines struck me as honest. They do not try to imitate flavors and styles that are popular elsewhere.” ~

Kim Marcus, Wine Spectator: Tasting Highlights: Red Wines of Portugal, 11 exciting new Portuguese table wines, with plenty of outstanding values… ~ Posted: January 23, 2009

Portugal offers plenty of value-priced red table wines that are good matches for the hearty fare of holiday menus. Most wines entering the marketplace now are from the high-quality 2006 vintage. 

Gary Vaynerchuck (US) on the Alentejo Wine Region

“I’m addicted to Portuguese wines, as a whole, as a movement. I think Portugal is bringing the best dollar for dollar value play in the US wine market, today.”

Leena Ng, Editor of Wine & Dine Magazine (Singapore, 2009)

“The Alentejo led the way in the revolution of Portuguese wines. It is a region that has enjoyed an extraordinary success in the last decade.” ~ 

Stephen Tanzer, of International Wine Cellar, 2009

“…terrific values compared to wines of similar concentration from the New World…”

Dionísio Chaves ~ Brazil, 2009)

“The wines from the Alentejo have a fine balance between production, quality and price, thus providing a pleasure that is unique.” ~

Richard Mayson ~ United Kingdom, 2003

“The south of Portugal is producing wines with clearly defined fruity flavours that are delighting the international palate without sacrificing their own identity.” ~ 

Jancis Robinson ~ United Kingdom, 1999

“The Alentejo Region, hot and dry, in the southeast, is perhaps the most promising source of accessible table wines, full-bodied, with intense colours… and this is without a doubt one of the most promising wine growing regions in the world.” ~ 

Ernest Hemingway ~ A Moveable Feast

“In Europe we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.” ~ 

Wine buyers are saying the same thing, too, about great value

Portuguese Wines Offer Tremendous Quality and Value, by Alan J. Wax ~

“Kim Zamel, owner of the Wine Shack, has become an ardent advocate for Portuguese wines… Zamel, who opened the Wine Shack late last year, offers five Portuguese bargains, at around $10 or so, and she may add more, she said, explaining that the wines offer incredible value for the quality. She and her staff started to taste the wines, added a few, and “it just started to go from there.”

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3 Responses to “Portuguese Wines ~ What the Experts Are Saying ~ An Update”

  1. Esme says:

    Do you know what percentage of Portugal’s wine production goes for export?

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    No, I’m sorry, Esme. I do not know.

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