Anthony Rose: It's a shame Portuguese wine isn't better known and appreciated in the UK

 

One of the more pleasurable tasks I've undertaken this year was judging at the Concurso Vinhos de Portugal in Lisbon. Portugal is still widely associated with Port and Madeira in some minds, so it would be no exaggeration to say that the tasting was a revelation for two reasons.

From a country with a reputation as a producer of blended wines, it was interesting to follow the trend towards single grape varieties, even if, in part, it is a marketing ploy. But what bowled me over even more was the improved quality of so many of the wines – and not just reds and tawny ports, but whites, rosés and fizz, too.

It's a shame that Portuguese wine isn't better known and appreciated in the UK. What accounts for this? The arthritic structure of the Portuguese wine industry, for a start, with its reliance on a legion of tiny growers and dearth of well-known brands or grape varieties. Plus an inferiority complex about its giant Iberian neighbour. But with wines of the quality I saw coming through, it seems likely that the Portuguese will shed their underdog status and make their treasure trove of old vines and native grapes, 300 of which are in common use, work for them.

Touriga nacional, the backbone of Port, has now become everyone's darling because of its potential for great red table wine. The 2011 Quinta Do Vallado Touriga Nacional, £22.64– £27.11, Exel Wines, Spirited Wines, shows why with its unmistakable aromas and rich black fruit complemented by a distinct spiciness. Dominating a blend such as the 2011 Quinta do Vale Meão, around £19, Highbury Vintners, Philglas & Swiggot, it can display a superbly aromatic autumnal berry- richness and power. Or it can join hands with other native varieties, and syrah, in the 2009 Cedro do Noval, Vinho Regional Duriensis, £14.95 – £16.99, Uncorked, H2Vin, Soho Wine Supply, a blend satisfyingly rich in dark berry fruit, complemented by pepper spice and damson freshness.

Thanks to the maritime influence of the Atlantic, not to mention improvements in vineyard and cellar, Portugal's white wines are at last showing the promise that many have long believed was always there. We are seeing the emergence of an astonishing array of appetising whites, from the country's north and effervescent Vinho Verde, such as the 2013 Quinta da Lixa Vinho Verde, £8.99, Avery's, Tesco Wine by the Case, and Beiras Altantico and Filip Pato's moreishly stonefruit-rich 2013 Filipa Pato FP Branco, £11.75, Oddbins; and Lisbon's mouthwateringly lemony 2012 Fossil, £6.25, Asda, and the southern Alentejo's smoky 2013 Esporao Reserva, Alentejo, £10.58, The Drink Shop.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before