Last week, I had the privilege of posting a great article on Portuguese wine by guest blogger Miguel Caldeira. It was such a pleasure to learn about Portuguese wine from somebody who lives in Lisbon!
Miguel and I have been exchanging emails over the past week, and I wanted to share with you the additional tidbits I picked up. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it will inspire you to try Portuguese wine.
Miguel started out by sharing a great description of Touriga Nacional from LGL Imports’s website: “In days gone by Touriga Nacional was…responsible almost single-handedly for the fame of Dão wines. Nowadays it is one of the most popular varieties in the Douro and is considered one of Portugal’s finest grapes. Touriga Nacional yields inky, full-bodied, powerful wines with exceptional aromas. It frequently shows blackberry, blueberry, rock rose and rosemary notes. Its renown has caused its spread throughout all regions [of Portugal] from the northernmost corners and down to the Algarve, and it is even exciting the interest of vine growers abroad. Touriga Nacional wines age well and gain aromatic complexity with barrel aging.”
Miguel told me that most Portuguese wines are blends. Virtually every wine from the North has a large percentage of Touriga Nacional, but very few are 100 percent Touriga Nacional. When you find one, it’s a big treat.
In his guest blog article, Miguel talked about the importance of João Portugal Ramos to the Portuguese wine industry. Around 1990, João Portugal Ramos was instrumental in introducing new ways to make wine and being one of the first producers to sell wine under his own brand. This started a major trend.
In our email exchanges, Miguel said that he was sorry that he didn’t also mention Dirk Niepoort. Just a couple of years after João Portugal Ramos started to make his mark, Dirk Niepoort revealed himself as a new “lord of wine” in the North. His family was a Dutch family who came to Portugal towards the end of the 19th century to do business with Oporto Wine. Dirk joined his father in the company in 1987 and, from the moment he started, hasn’t stopped innovating. His wines have a distinct style and are more elegant and complex than other wines.
While Portugal has a lot of good winemakers, Miguel believes that João Portugal Ramos and Dirk Niepoort are the most important. According to Miguel, “They each have a complete profile. They work the vineyards; they do great work in their cellars; they are innovative; and they sell great wines.”
Last but not least, Miguel wanted to highlight Alicante Bouschet, a red wine grape that has only been growing in Portugal for the last 130 or so years but is very well suited for the South. Miguel is from the South, and his favorite wines are the Southern ones that feature Alicante Bouschet, typically as the primary grape in the blend. He said that Alicante Bouschet has a bit of acidity and is not an easy grape.
I can’t wait to continue to learn about Portuguese wine from Miguel. Miguel is actually looking for somebody in the United States to partner with. If you are interested, please email him at email@example.com.