I kicked off the month of May with a Wines of Portugal Grand Tasting and Seminar on Monday and what a start it was!

I will be the first to admit that I am not as familiar as I would like to be with Portuguese wines. Maybe it is because they are not always easy to find on our B.C. wine shelves or maybe it is simply that I haven’t given them the attention that they deserve. I am happy to report that they deserve concentrated effort (and by ‘effort’ I mean, enjoying every last drop of these delicious wines).

With a coastline that spans 1,794 KM and a border with Spain, Portugal boasts over 250 native grape varieties and has 190,322 Ha of vineyard land. Another of Portugal’s bragging rights includes being home to the first Demarcated and Regulated wine region in the world. There are 14 wine regions in Portugal that all have their own, even more detailed, DOC designations (31 currently) that range from locations on the cool, northern Atlantic coast to hot continental areas that border neighbouring Spain.

I had a chance to sit down with both Filipa Anunciação, the Senior Area Manager of Vini Portugal and Eugénio Jardim, US Brand Ambassador of Wines of Portugal.

CC: I know Portuguese wines are delicious, but it is often hard to find them in our B.C. markets.

FA: That is one of our main challenges and that is why we are here today so that people can taste the wines, and learn about our regions and special grape varieties. We want people to feel comfortable to start listing more Portuguese wines, adding them to wine lists at restaurants for the consumers. That is our main objective. We want to make Portuguese wines more available.

CC: What makes Portuguese wine so special?

FA: Portugal is a country that specializes in blends – this is where our heritage lies and is one of our biggest strengths. We produce incredible wines with sometimes up to 10 or more grape varieties in a blend. The profile of the wine is important and we want people to try our wines because we are confident they will be enjoyed. We are different from any other country and we have a rich array of terroir. Our wines are beautifully suited to food and pair well with all types of gastronomy.

CC: Eugénio, please tell me about yourself.

EJ: I was a sommelier for over 20 years in the United States, mostly in the Bay Area of San Fransisco where I got to know about Portuguese wines.

CC: Why should people be interested in Portuguese wine and continue to seek them out?

EJ: The more pressure consumers put on the local wine stores and restaurants, I think you will see them more. There is an uncanny quality and variety at a price point that is unbeatable. Portuguese wines offer you a breadth of flavours and aromas that you don’t find in most countries that only work with international wine varieties. The uniqueness of Portuguese wine is motivation enough to continue to seek them out.

CC: What is it about Portuguese wines that deliver exactly what you are looking for?

EJ: I am not a fan of syrupy, sweet and overly extracted and heavy wines. I have always looked for wines with great acidity, savoury qualities and focus. I prefer wines of a place rather than wines of process. I don’t want to see winemaking skills highlighted. I want to see and taste the terroir highlighted on the wine. Portugal brings very specific notes to each wine from each region so it was easy to become a fan.

CC: Please share a wine and food pairing with a Portugal wine you enjoy.

EJ: I love Vinho Verde wines from the Alvarinho grape paired with grilled fresh fish or seafood. A simple preparation of lime, olive oil, salt and pepper – nothing else is needed.

FA: I enjoy all of our Portuguese wines but I like to pair red wines from the Duoro region with hearty meat dishes.

Stand out wines that I tasted during my time with Wines of Portugal:

Caminhos Cruzados Encruzado Reserva 2019 DÃO DOC – $39.95

Quinta Das Setencostas 2019 Lisboa – Alenquer DOC – $15.00

Bojador Vinho Da Talha 2020 Alentejo DOC – $34.95

Singular 2019 Vinho Verde DOC – $22.00

I asked Filipa what time of year she recommended travelling to Portugal and she said May and June and then again in September and October.

Dear Portugal,

I am planning my visit.

A huge thank you to the team of Vini Portugal, Wines of Portugal and Town Hall Brands for such an incredible event.