There is always so much to learn in the world of wine. Different varietals, different wine regions, different wine vintages, etc. Today, I learned a bit more about the 7 major wine regions of Portugal, and their indigenous vitis vinifera grapes.
We started out the tasting with a description of the wine regions of Portugal and the history of vitis vinifera in Europe, lead by Domingos Soares Franco, the senior winemaker of Jose Maria da Fonseca. With the latest ice age, vitis vinifera survived in the southern most parts of Europe, which included Portugal. After the ice sheets receded, then the grapes from these regions spread to other regions in Europe. So we have Portugal in part to thank for the survival of the vitis vinifera grapes.
While most people think of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, and the Pinot varieties, when they think of vitis vinifera, there are many other grapes in this family. In Portugal there are approximately 256 different indigenous vitis vinifera types of grapes. These grapes have names like Alvarinho, Louriero, Arinto, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Baga. Our speaker Domingos Soares Franco took us through a tasting of these Portugese varieties to show us the potential of each varietal.
To keep this blog article short, I will cover the white wine varieties, and in Part 2 of this blog article, I’ll cover the red varieties. Tudo bem?
Alvarinho is the first white grape variety. The wine I tasted from this varietal was bright in the glass, medium yellow in colour. Lemon, vanilla, peach and banana aromas. Medium body and acidity, round mouthfeel, with lemon, banana and vanilla flavours. A bit of spice and a long finish. I was very impressed with the Alvarinho grape and look forward to enjoying wines from this variety in the future and exposing other people to this variety.
The second white of the day was from the Loureiro grape. I tasted wines from this grape in the past and it always impresses with it’s aromas and flavours. Loureiro is typically a blending grape, but I think it is a wonderful grape on it’s own. The wine I tried today was medium lemon in colour. Flowers and orangy aromas and flavours. Off dry with good acidity to balance the bit of sweetness.
The Arinto grape is very important in Portugal due to its high level of acidity. The wine from this grape can be blended with other white grape variety wines that to do not have as high a level of acidity so that you can enjoy the flavours of the other white grapes, add flavour complexity, and the refreshing component brought by Arinto’s acidity. The wines from this grape typically have tropical fruit flavours.
In Part 2 of the blog I will cover the red grapes Moscatel de Setubal, Tinto Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Baga. I’ll then cover the second flight of wines we had, and finally our food and wine pairings! Lots to cover.