Wine Guide: Why Portugal, Part 3

As promised, my top ten producers in Portugal today.

Bacalhoa (Terras do Sado)

Bacalhoa Vinhos de Portugal, Vila Nogueira de Azeitao

2925-901 Azeitao, Portugal

Tel: 21 219 80 60 Fax: 21 219 80 66

Bacalhoa Vinhos de Portugal is a significant producer in the Terras do Sado region, with some 500-600 hectares of vineyards, some in the neighboring regions of Alentejo and Estremadura.  Their wines have fantastic flavour and intensity and are reasonably priced. Of  particular note is the Quinta do Bacalhoa, mostly based on Cabernet Sauvignon but with a little Merlot as well – a ripe, meaty, velvety example with ample blackcurrant fruit and depth. They also produce a little sparkling wine too. A great introduction to the wines of Terras do Sado.

C.A.R.M (Douro)

Madeira family, Rua da Calabria, 5150-021

Almendra, Portugal

Tel: 279 718 010  Fax: 279 718 011

What does C.A.R.M stand for you may ask? Casa Agricola Roboredo Madeira. The Madeira family has 62 hectares of vineyards and over 200 hectares of olive groves in the Douro Superior region.

The very talented winemaker Rui Madeira makes three excellent wines under their label and several others named for individual producers. Interestingly they make some organic wines, guaranteed not to give you a hangover! The concentrated, intense blend of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca is undoubtedly the star, but all the wines are worth checking out.

Casal Branco (Ribatejo)

Casal Branco, Sociedade de Vinhos SA, 2080 -362

Benfica do Ribatejo, Portugal

Tel: 243 592 412  Fax: 243 593 078

The Casal Branco estate is arguably more famous for breeding pure Lusitano horses than for its wines, although the wines have reached new heights in recent years. Direction comes from José

Vasconcellos and his families’ large estate includes 14o hectares of vineyards on primarily sandy soils. They make an outstanding barrel-fermented white, not something Portugal is generally known for. Excellent Touriga Nacional blends too.

Cortes De Cima (Alentejo)

Hans Kristian Jorgensen and family, 7960-909

Vidigueira, Portugal

Tel: 284 460 060 Fax: 284 460 068

For ripe, modern style reds, Cortes de Cima is hard to beat. It is located in Vidigueira, the southernmost of the region’s subzones, and the wines are made by the owner, Dane  Hans Kristian Jorgensen. There are now 95 hectares of vineyards which are meticulously managed by the owners. Since 1997 the wines have been consistently excellent, fruit driven with good varietal expression, particularly from the Portuguese grapes. Since 2002 an outstanding, enticingly aromatic Touriga Nacional has been made, with super fruit.

Herdade Grande (Alentejo)

António Manuel Lanca, Adega da Herdade Grande, 7960

Vidigueira, Portugal

Tel: 284 4417 Fax: 284 4417

António Lanca is a seriously passionate wine grower, who since 1996 has been producing his own wines from 60 hectares of vines in a 350 hectare estate that includes olives and other crops. The winemaking facilities have been considerably expanded in the last 8 years, which a resulting rise in quality. Their premium red made from 50-year old vines (90% Aragonês ) is a rich, concentrated and powerful wine with loads of oak and extract but with the fruit to match. For those who like powerful reds, this estate is for you. They also make a good white from the Antao Vaz grape.

Herdade Dos Lagos (Alentejo)

Herdade Dos Lagos, Caixa Postal, 43, Vale de Acor, Mertola

Alentejo, Portugal

Tel: 286 991  145  Fax: 286 991 146

The Herdade Dos Lagos estate is one of the quality leaders in the Alentejo. There are over 2o hectares of vineyards, planted in the main to Aragonês , Syrah and Touriga Nacional. Yields are kept low and each vine is meticulously cared for by their passionate grower, Dietmar Oschsenreiter. The wines have maintained consistently high standards in the last 15 years thanks to wine maker António Saramago and his team. It was founded by a German captain and ship owner, Horst Zeppenfeld, a passionate wine lover if ever there was one! All the wines are uniformly excellent but the Syrah Reserva stands out as being a leader in the region. Exciting results with the 100% Touriga Nacional in recent vintages as well!

Luis Pato (Bairrada)

Luis Pato, Ribeiro da Gandara, Amoreira da Gandara – Anadia

3780-017, Portugal

Tel: 231 596 432 Fax: 231 596 842

Luis Pato has long been the regions great modernizer, introducing green harvesting (reducing yields before picking) destemming, temperature controlled fermentation and oak ageing to fashion the regions and some of Portugal’s top wines. The flavours of the Baga grape are not to everyone’s taste, but these are excellent, age worthy examples of what is possible. The best of these, from 70-year-old vines in a tiny vineyard, is Vinha Barrosa, with terrific intensity, and dimension and a remarkable earthy richness. Definitely worth a look.

Quinta De Chocapalha (Estremadura)

Alice and Paulo Tavares da Silva, Aldeia, Galega da Merceana

2580, Portugal

Tel: 263 769 317 Fax: 263 769 316

Quinta de Chocapalha is the family estate of very talented winemaker Sandra Tavares da Silva (Pintas). It comprises 4o hectares of vineyards in a particularly blessed part of the region.  The top wine, simply called Chocapalha, is a blend of mostly Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz; it shows fantastic fruit and extract but also depth and finesse. Also showing great promise is a Chocapalha white from Chardonnay and Arinto (local white grape) with the Chardonnay aged in oak barrels. A great setup producing superb wines.

Quinta Dos Roques (Dão)

Manuel Lopes de Oliveira Abrunhosa do Mato, Mangualde

3530, Portugal

Tel: 219 249 372 Fax: 219 249 379

In the space of just a few years, Quinta dos Roques has emerged as arguably the regions leading estate, producing modern, accessible wines from on-going experimentation with different varieties. Vineyards now total 40 hectares and the winemaking benefits from the expertise of Rui Reguinga, widely recognised as one of Portugal’s leading winemakers. All the red wines are uniformly good and they also make some tasty sparking rose too!

Quinta Do Vallado (Douro)

Ferreira family, Vilarinho dos Freires, Peso da Regua

5050-364, Portugal

Tel: 254 323 147 Fax: 254 324 326

Vallado is a revitalized estate in the Lower Douro on the Corgo River; a new winery was completed in the late 1990’s to handle the fruit from new vineyards totaling 64 hectares. Their Reserva, aged in new French oak, bas been made since 1999 and is outstanding. It shows great depth, concentration and elegance. The 2004 vintage was particularly impressive. Undoubtedly some of the finest wines been made in the region today.

Top 5 vintages in the last 10 years

2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009

James Lawrence

James Lawrence is a self confessed wine obsessive, passionate about discovering and promoting the lesser known wines and wine regions of the world. He is a frequent contributor to and runs an interactive, community led wine forum, In 2004, he went to study in Bilbao, Northern Spain. Luckily for him, the famous wine region of Rioja was just over an hour away by car. He began to spend a great deal of time there, visiting the wineries in Rioja and speaking to local wine makers. Their passion for the subject and their pride in the wines was infectious. He began to realise what an amazing subject wine is and how wide and complex the world of wine could be. Subsequently James moved into wine retail while finishing his degree, and was hooked. James also enjoys food and travel writing - he lives for Italian and Thai cuisine!

1 Comment
  1. Dear James,

    My name is Luis Lourenco and I ma one of the family owners of Quinta dos Roques.
    Thank you very much for being included in the top 10 portuguese producers.
    Just a minor correction: our present consultant winemaker is Rui Reguinga who was selected as the “best portuguese winemaker” in 2008 by Revista de vinhos.
    Thanks again and best regards.

    Luis Lourenco

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