A destination of excellence
Portugal is a small country at the south-western edge of Europe; part of the “Old World”. The archipelagoes of Madeira and the Azores, are also part of Portugal, with the Azores being the most westerly point of Europe. Portugal is a small country (92,072 km2), influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. It is part of the Iberian Peninsula, along with Spain.
Mediterranean culture has always been strong here, possibly most evident today in Portuguese gastronomy. Portugal boasts stunning and varied landscapes, from its Atlantic coast to inland mountain ranges, each beguiling with their unspoiled natural beauty. Every region has its own climate; proximity to the sea determines pleasant year-round temperatures, although deep inland winters may be harsh and summers very dry.
The wettest regions are in the northwest, where there can be as much rain in the summer as winter. The region possessing Portugal’s most famous beaches is the Algarve, in the south. The country’s long and fascinating history is visible from north to south: from prehistoric art in the Coa Valley to contemporary architecture in the big cities. There are World Heritage cities such as Évora, and many protected areas of outstanding natural beauty. Vestiges of Roman, Barbarian and Arab occupations are to be seen throughout the land, along with the influences of civilisations brought back during Portugal’s great seafaring discoveries. All this and the kindness and friendliness of its people, is what makes Portugal a unique country. The population is 10.5 million, but it is not evenly distributed. The largest urban centres are found on the west coast of Portugal, principally the capital city of Lisbon and the northern city of Porto.
Portugal is traditionally a winegrowing country and has progressively gained standing and merit in the world’s most demanding markets, in part due to a regeneration of techniques, technology and mindset, but also a re-evaluation of the industry and the generation of highly skilled professionals responsible for the creation and production of portuguese wines. No other country can claim such a wide variety of indigenous grape varieties.This ampelographic treasure, occurred in Portugal through mutations of Vitis Silvestris in the Iberian Peninsula. Tartessians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Roman, among others, all left their mark on the production of Portuguese wine. Centuries of isolation then prevented trade with other wine-producing countries such as Spain and France. Portuguese producers, therefore, focussed on the fine qualities found in their own grape varieties.
The number of unique, premier quality grape varieties is truly impressive - Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Trincadeira, Tinta Roriz or Aragonez, Baga, Castelão, Alvarinho, Arinto and Antão Vaz. All are attributable to the incomparable character of Portuguese wines.
While a large part of the world focusses on Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, in Portugal winelovers are able to relish a distinctive and impressive collection of different flavours, with over 250 indigenous grape varieties still in existence.
Viticulture plays a considerable role in social and economic terms, but it is also an original, ancient and precious part of Portugal’s patrimony, to be preserved, perfected and promoted. Today, each and every wine producing region has top quality wines, made with modern technology from indigenous grape varieties grown in vineyards steeped in history.
Portugal is the Master of Blends, a specialist in combining countless grape varieties to bring out the best from each of them. Its geographical location and small size has not stopped it from becoming one of the world’s biggest wine producers.