What makes Portugal different in regards their styles of wine production, as a Nations shy away in some respects from the popular international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Whereas Tempranillo is king in Spain, Portuguese wines; red or white, are made from varying blends of local indigenous grapes. The following is a list of some of Portugal’s main wine producing regions and includes a list of the most common grapes varieties produced there.
Douro region, is located some distance upstream, of the Douro river from Porto, sheltered by mountain ranges from coastal influence. The region has Portugal’s ‘s highest wine classification as a Denominação de Origen Controlada (DOC). While the region is associated primarily with Port Wine production, the Douro produces just as much table wine as it does Port. Vineyards dedicated to Port production are usually planted on schist while areas with granite-based soils are used for table wine production. A large number of grape varieties are grown in the Douro region, most of them local Portuguese grapes. For a long time, Vineyards of mixed plantation were the norm, and most of the time, the vineyard owners didn’t know which grape varieties they were growing. A pioneering effort were made in the 1970s which identified Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, Tinta Cão and Tinta Barroca as the prime dark-skinned grape varieties. This work was important for creating the new wave of top Douro wines and has also led to a greater focus on the grape varieties that go into Port wine. Most top quintas now replant with single-variety vineyards and focus on a limited number of varieties, but older, mixed vineyards will remain in production for many decades to come.
In early 2009, the region was renamed from Estremadura to Lisboa to avoid confusion with the Spanish wine region Extremadura and apparently ‘to capitalize on the internationally well-known name of the country’s capital’. The region is classified as a Vinho Regional (VR), a designation similar to a French vin de pays. While the Alentejo VR is the largest geographically, the Lisboa region is Portugal’s largest producer of wine by volume. The region stretches from Lisbon northwards along the Atlantic coast. The principle grapes of the Lisboa region include the white varieties Antao Vaz, Arinto, Chardonnay, and the reds Cabernet Sauvignon, Graciano, Tinta Amarela and Argonez (Tempranillo).
THE SETÚBAL PENINSULA
Península de Setúbal,is another recently renamed region, untill 2009 it was called Terras do Sado, it is a vinho regional (VR) covering the Setúbal Peninsula and the Sado River region. Within the VR is located the smaller the Setúbal Denominação de Origen Controlada (DOC). The region is almost completely surrounded by the Alentejo VR. Red wines produced under the Península de Setúbal VR must contain a blend of at least 50% of one of or a blend of the following grapes Aragonez, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Touriga Nacional. The remaining 50% can include a multitude of indigenous grape varieties. As with the reds, the white wines of the region must contain at least 50% of one of the following or a blend of Arinto, Chardonnay, or Rouperio. The remaining 50% can include Antao Vaz, Savignon Blanc or Ugni Blanc.
Alentejo is portugal’s largest wine producing region, located in the south of the country. The entire region is entitled to use the designation Alentejano VR, while some areas are also classified at the higher Denominação de Origen Controlada (DOC) level under the designation Alentejano DOC. Located in the southern half of Portugal, the Alentejo region covers about a third of the country and is sparsely populated. The region’s other notable wine export is cork, but in recent years the table wine produced in this region have garnered attention. There are eight sub regions of the Alentejo region that are entitled to the Alentejo DOC designation. The names of the sub regions may be indicated on the label together with the name Alentejo, for example as Alentejo-Borba. As in the rest of Portugal the majority of wine produced in Alentejo uses indigenous Portuguese grapes the most important red varities are Agonez, Touriga Nacinonal, Touriga Franca, and the most important white grapes are Arinto, Rouperio and Antao Vaz.