It is not always clear how many exact wine regions Portugal has since it seem to be calculated differently in every source. This is mainly because the country has multiple sub-regions, sometimes considered main regions of their own. This kept in mind, I took my example from The Wines of Portugal’s listing, since it was the same I was taught to be the country’s main regions when I worked in a wine bar here in Porto.
No matter the resource, it can be said that Portugal’s wine regions are versatile and the wines are being produced with great respect towards the surrounding nature and its diversity. The difference in climate, weather conditions, soil and also culture between these regions can be quite significant, and so Portugal’s wines can always bring up a new element of Portuguese living to the people outside of the country. Portugal has been said to have over 250 native grape varieties, so this country didn’t abandon its owns to only grow international best-selling varieties! From madeira to moscatel, crispy whites from Vinho Verde and deep, dry reds from Alentejo, Portugal sure has practically everything to offer for a wine lover!
In this listing, Portugal is divided into 14 wine regions. But like said before: this is not always the case!
Madeira: An island 1000km from the mainland, west of Morocco. Madeira is most famous for its fortified madeira wines, but the island also produces still wines, which are often less known. After phylloxera, the locals planted a lot of American hybrid vines, americanos, which are still very commonly cultivated by locals for table wines.
Main varieties: Sercial (white), Verdelho (white), Boal (white), Malvasia (white), Terrantez (white) and Bastardo (red). Bastardo is known in the French Jura region as Trosseau.
The Azores: 9 island archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, with amazing volcanic soil to grow interesting wines in spectacular scenery.
Main varieties: Arinto (white), Terrantez and Verdelho.
Algarve: Portugals most southern part, in the mainland that is. Sunny days but cooling ocean breeze, so ideal climate for winegrowing.
Main varieties: Castelão (red), Trincadeira (red), Negra Mole (red), Arinto, Malvasia Fina (white), Siria (white).
Alentejo: Portugal’s hot desert. The area covers 1/3 of all Portugal, has only 5% of the population and in the region, only 5% of the area is for viticulture. These deserted lands, however, produce big, bold and fruity red wines known to everyone drinking Portuguese wines.
Main varieties: Arinto, Antão Vaz (white), Fernão Pires (white), Aragonez (red, known as Tinta Roriz in the North of Portugal and as Tempranillo in Spain), Trincadeira, Castelão, Alicante Bouschet (red, known for having red flesh/juice).
Tejo: Region southwest from Alentejo, named after the river Tejo, which flows through the region towards Atlantic. One of the oldest wine regions in Portugal.
Main varieties: Touriga Nacional (red, Portugal’s “national wine grape”), Trincadeira, Castelão, Aragonez, Arinto, Fernão Pires.
Setúbal: South of Lisbon, a wine region with a coastline at the Atlantic ocean. The region is best known for its sweet, fortified Moscatel wine, and Azeitão cheeses.
Main varieties: Moscatel (white), Antão Vaz, Arinto, Fernão Pires, Verdelho, Viosinho (white), Aragonez, Castelão, Bastardo, Touriga Franca (red), Touriga Nacional, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Tinta Cão (red), Alicante Bouschet.
Lisboa: Wine region that expands North and West from the capital, known as Estremadura before 2008. One of the oldest wine regions in Portugal, having one of the most interesting sub-regions in the whole country, DOC Colares. The vines here are being planted deep down into sand dunes, and most of them survived the phylloxera in the late 19th century.
Main varieties: Arinto, Fernão Pires, Malvasia, Vital (white), Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Castelão, Tinta Miúda (red), Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional.
Beira Interior: Wine region starting from the center of Portugal and continuing at the border with Spain. This mountainous region holds also the highest peak (and village) in the mainland of Portugal, Serra da Estrela.
Main varieties: Arinto, Fonte Cal (white), Malvasia Fina, Síria (white), Bastardo, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional
Dão: This inland region is also surrounded by mountains, and reaches on the North until the Douro valley. Dão is the home of Portugal’s national grape, Touriga Nacional.
Main varieties: Touriga Nacional, Encruzado (white), Alfrocheiro (red), Tinta Roriz, Bical (white), Cercial (white)
Bairrada: Coastal region North from Porto. Originally got famous for the sparkling wines, which enjoy the limestone soil found in this region. Traditionally the sparkling wines are being enjoyed with this region’s famous piglets, leitão de Bairrada. From the red grape variety, Baga is the most loved local variety.
Main varieties: Baga (red), Maria Gomes (or Fernão Pires, white), Arinto, Bical, Cercial.
Távora-Varosa: This small region is situated between the Douro valley on the North and Dão in the South. Hot summers and cold winters characterize this area, that has historically been also planted by the French varieties Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Main varieties: Malvasia Fina, Bical, Fernão Pires, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca (red), Tinta Roriz.
Douro: The region is named after the magnificent river, that flows from Spain all the way to the city of Porto, where it finally connects to the ocean. Douro’s man-made vine terraces are named UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Originally known for the production of port wines, but nowadays the region also produces high-class unfortified wines.
Main varieties: Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão, Gouveio, Viosinho, Rabigato (white)
Trás-os-Montes: Small, mountainous region bordering with Spain on the Northeast. It’s not rare to have snow in here during the winters, and the summers are almost unbearably hot. The soil is very poor, and the region produces wines with great complexity and acidity.
Main varieties: Bastardo, Tinta Roriz, Marufo, Fernão Pires, Viosinho
Vinho Verde: This wine region has probably one of the most pleasant temperatures in the whole country. Being close to the Atlantic on the North part of the country, the region of Vinho Verde has slightly cooler and fresher air than most of the regions, but without being terribly cold during the winter. The region stretches in between two big rivers, Minho in the North and Douro in the South.
Main varieties: Loureiro (white), Trajadura (white), Arinto (white), Avesso (white), Alvarinho.
Pardon me for the long-as-the-hunger-years listing, but Portugal’s wine regions are a no-joke!
I will continue this series with individual posts covering each region. Any wishes where to start? 🙂
❤ : Maria