Viva Portugal, Portuguese Grand tasting – Tuesday 4th April
A report from the annual trade tasting by Gary
With great anticipation, many of us hot-footed last Tuesday to the annual Portuguese trade tasting in the RHS halls in Victoria. As the WBTL Portuguese writer, as always, I found this an absorbing event: a chance to meet old friends, practise my Portuguese (!) and of course, make new wine acquaintances.
Portuguese wine in the UK has had a rather schizophrenic existence: the fortified wines have a stellar and world class reputation, the regular table wines finding it difficult to penetrate an already crowded UK wine market. This is especially so of the whites, with most UK retailers stocking just one or two at most (usually Vinho Verde). But in the last decades, Portuguese table wines have developed apace and it is now relatively easy to find them in the UK, though they still have small market share. This is evidenced at Viva Portugal, given the number of producers looking for UK representation or importers.
Porto and Douro featured strongly here but Tejo, Alentejo, Dao and other regions featured prominently. The Big Boys were there in force – the major port houses, Sogrape, Noval, Passadouro but the number of exciting new producers from outside the Douro was clear to see. An illustration of this is Casal de Ventozela, a 100% Alvarinho varietal wine from Minho (the Vinho Verde region) in NW Portugal. It’s a new style Alvarinho – racy, fresh and exciting and widely available in the UK from Majestic. It’s surprisingly long and elegant on the finish and is definitely in the fine wine category – and all for under about a tenner! Another exciting – and rare – producer represented at the show was Quinta dos Termos, a particular favourite of mine from the lesser-known Beira Interior region. The range of reds all at price points is superb but as yet, not widely available in the UK.