If you’re keen to liven up your wine repertoire, Portugal is the ideal place to start. You’ll come across some varieties you’ve tried before, but Portuguese wine is famed for showcasing a fascinating array of indigenous grapes, all of which open up a new world of flavours and tastes.
Touriga Nacional is the most well-known Portuguese variety. Perhaps best known for its use in port, it also makes superb dry red wines – and has taken root outside Portugal in recent years, notably California and South Africa. Castelão is another red worth seeking out. It’s the second-most-planted vine in Portugal, and delivers generous doses of big, rich red fruit.
On the white side, you’ll find the likes of Alvarinho, a fresh, crisp variety (it’s known as Albariño in neighbouring Spain), Rabigato, and Viosinho, a more aromatic grape commonly found in the Douro, and also used in white port. Portugal has made great strides with its white wines in recent years.
The IWSC saw a fantastic selection of Portuguese wines – red and white – this year. On the red side, Herdade Tinto e Branco Quinta Do Paral Colheita Selecionada 2017 scored an impressive 94/100 pts; the judges loved its cigar-box aromas, with notes of mint, cassis and cured meat.
Close behind was Vinhas de Pegões Touriga Nacional 2020 from Cooperativa Agrícola de Santo Isidro de Pegões. Made with 100 per cent Touriga Nacional, it showed complex black fruits, as well as notes of plums, violets and leather.
Switching to white wine, Monte São Sebastião Reserva 2019, made from the Rabigato grape, displayed a gentle, creamy texture in addition to floral, citrus notes, while the ‘fresh and delightful’ Grande Porto Vinhos e Bebidas Messala Alvarinho 2020 showed the grape’s classic notes of melon, citrus, peach and white pepper.
Finally, the Viosinho variety is showcased perfectly by Quinta da Soalheira 2019 from Sociedade dos Vinhos Borges. Expect aromas of papaya, ginger, lime and spice, with a generous mineral finish.
Each Portuguese wine in this year’s IWSC was tasted blind by an expert panel of judges. In charge was Dirceu Vianna Junior MW, assisted by sommelier and wine educator Julie Dupouy, wine importer Nick Oakley and Corney & Barrow’s Rebecca Palmer.
The judges’ tasting notes should make it clear that Portuguese wines offer something different to your average Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. For jaded palates, they’re the perfect pick-me-up. We’re proud to present our selection of the best Portuguese wines from the 2021 IWSC.
12 of the best Portuguese wines from the IWSC 2021
- Herdade Tinto e Branco, Quinta Do Paral Colheita Selecionada 2017; Alentejano. 94/100
- Cooperativa Agrícola de Santo Isidro de Pegões, Vinhas de Pegões Touriga Nacional 2020; Peninsula De Setubal. 92/100
- Adega Cooperativa de Palmela, Premium Reserva 2017; Palmela. 92/100
- Sivipa Soc Vinicola de Palmela, Paço do Bispo 2019; Palmela. 92/100
- Mainova, Milmat Alicante Bouschet-Touriga Nacional-Baba 2018; Alentejano. 92/100
- Casa de Vila Verde Sociedade Agrícola, Palaios Superior Alicante Bouschet 2019; Alentejano. 92/100
- Monte São Sebastião, Reserva 2019; Douro. 91/100
- Quinta Do Gradil, Gradil Reserva 2018; Lisboa. 91/100
- Grande Porto Vinhos e Bebidas, Messala Alvarinho 2020; Vinho Verde. 91/100
- Sociedade dos Vinhos Borges, Quinta da Soalheira 2019; Douro. 91/100
- Falua Sociedade de Vinhos, Conde Vimioso Reserve 2018; Tejo. 91/100
- Casa de Vila Verde Sociedade Agrícola, Pluma Reserva Alvarinho 2017; Minho. 90/100
How do we judge these wines?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous wine tasting process. That means that each wine sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC wine judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the wine industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
How do we score these wines?
Only the best wines sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, wines have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
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