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Other European Wine Regions

Other European Wine Regions


One of the great white wine successes of recent years has been the international acceptance of Austrian white wine made from a grape with the formidable name of grüner veltliner (sometimes abbreviated by American wine-buyers as "gru-ve"), related to gewürztraminer. It can produce rather ordinary wines, fine for quaffing, but also wines of great sophistication, with complex aromas and flavors and a pronounced mineral character. Riesling is also a major white wine grape in Austria, and about a third of the country's annual production is red, much of it from blaufränkisch (also called lemberger) or pinot noir. The reputation of Austrian wines suffered a major blow in 1985 when it was revealed that some bulk-wine shippers were adulterating their wines with diethylene glycol, an agent used in antifreeze, to give it a touch of sweetness. Quality producers were not implicated. There are 16 distinct wine regions in Austria, all in the eastern part of the country. The most prominent of these, and the one from which most of the best grüner veltliner comes, is Wachau, about 60 miles east of Vienna. Austrian wines are classified according to sweetness, on a system based on that used in Germany, but there Wachau also has its own system, using colorful names to indicate alcohol and sugar content. Steinfeder ("stone feather," named after a weed growing in the vineyards) is the simplest category, followed by Federspiel ("feather game," a falconry term), and Smaragd ("emerald," a reference to a green lizard found among the vines); the last of these usually indicates wine of extraordinary quality. Austria has a tradition of Heuriger, which are wine taverns serving only young, fresh wine of the most recent vintage along with simple food.


The most famous Hungarian wine by far is Tokaj, one of the world's great dessert wines, made in northern Hungary by an unusual process. Every few years, the grapes in the region —such local varieties as furmint (mostly), zéta, hárslevelü, and kövérszölö, as well as a variety of muscat — are affected by the so-called "noble rot" that also gives unique character to the dessert wines of Germany and Bordeaux. These are late-picked, crushed, then added in varying amounts to juice or wine made from the same grapes. The resulting wine is then aged in small barrels. Dry wine is also produced in the region. There are five other main wine regions besides Tokaj, producing a wide range of white, rosé, and red wines. The best-known Hungarian table wine is Egri bikavér, literally "bull's blood from Eger," a town northeast of Budapest near the Slovakian border. This is a blend of several varieties, primarily kékfrankos (the local name for blaufränkisch, or lemberger). This sub-region, part of the Felsö-Magyarország region, also produces good white wines. Other wine regions are Észak-Dunántúl, Balaton, Dél-Pannónia, and Duna. Balaton is known for its rich, fragrant white wines; Dél-Pannónia, and especially the sub-region of Villány, has had success with red Bordeaux varieties.

French Wine Regions

This region is remarkable. Standing at the heart of Europe at the crossroads of cultures, it cultivates its ambivalence in its language, its traditions and even in its wines. It is also the only region in France to sell wines under the name of the grape variety – and has done so for a very long time. Another paradox: despite being big on business and very densely populated, Alsace is also a wonderful agricultural – and winegrowing – region.

Wine can definitely hold its own here: the region produces great, aromatic white wines such as the aristocratic Riesling and Gewurztraminer.


Alsace is perceived as a Nordic region. Yet in summer the mercury rises to over 30°C and the sun shines more than average. Rainfall levels are among the lowest in France. The Vosge Massif is to thank for this. It protects the hilly vineyards from atmospheric disturbance from the Atlantic in the west. Rain falls on west-facing slopes thanks to the altitude, and dry air is warmed as it descends upon east-facing slopes, home to Alsace’s vineyards, facing the morning and midday sun. These favorable weather conditions often continue well into autumn, enabling the grapes to mature slowly and retain all their flavor.


The Alsace plain is a wide band of land on either side of the Rhine, rich in alluvial deposits. It was formed at least five million years ago when the Vosges-Black Forest Massif collapsed. Its vineyards are located on the edge of the plain, along the Vosges fault. Three main groups of terroirs live side by side. The first – the highest and the most sloping – has soil that is granitic and sandy, filtering and acidic. The second boasts well-drained hills that are calcareous or marly at altitudes of between 200 and 300m. This is where the Grands Crus are to be found, wines with amazing personality. The third group is formed by big alluvial terraces of pebbles, sand and gravel.

Art de vivre

The vineyards in Alsace seem to exist beyond the reach of time. They look down on the Alsace plain, aloof from the hustle of business life in a region that borders on three countries. The vines wind their way around a multitude of small villages, where red roof tiles snuggle around the pointed steeple of a church. Half-timbered houses with red and pink geraniums at every window reflect the peaceful pace of life in a picture-postcard setting. The well-ordered vineyards reflect the Alsatians’ love of precision, whereas the multitude of gourmet restaurants and “Winstubs” remind us that we are in France. It is precisely this duality, the fruit of a very long history, that is so pleasing in Alsace. Savoir-vivre. A warm welcome. And dedication to the best possible viticulture. The famous Route des Vins running through the vineyards along a north-south axis is a huge success with tourists.

U.S. and Europe Have Different Definitions of Organic Wine

What is the difference between certified “organic” wine and wine “made with organic grapes” in the United States? As far as the contents, added sulfites—up to 100 parts per million, or 1/2000th of an ounce in a glass—and that’s it. But on the label, only the former can display the easy-to-understand, green USDA Organic seal that helps producers attract customers seeking “green” products. The distinction has sparked a battle between winemakers over what organic wine should be.

The U.S. standards differ from new rules in the European Union, which as of the 2012 harvest will allow winemakers to use the label "organic wine." (Previously, only "wine made from organic grapes" was permitted.) In early February, an EU committee agreed upon standards for organic winemaking practices—including the allowed addition of some sulfites.

Due to the discrepancy, “organic wine” has been left on unequal footing in a three-year trade agreement, signed Feb. 15, recognizing the U.S. and EU organics programs as equivalent. Most products certified in either the United States or European Union can be marketed as organic in both places starting June 1, eliminating the need to get a second set of certifications. American “made with organic grapes” wines can soon be sold as organic in Europe, but European “organic wine” bottlings with added sulfites will still need to carry the “made with organic grapes” label in American markets. (The same problem persists in U.S. agreements with Canada, which has allowed added sulfites in organic wine since 2009).

“If we could put everyone into the same category who is using 100 percent organic grapes, there could have been about 800 more winemakers around the world who could get into the U.S. market and use the USDA Organic seal,” said Paolo Bonetti, president of Organic Vintners, a Colorado-based importer who feels the National Organic Program’s labeling regulations for wine are confusing consumers and stunting growth. With more volume, it would be easier for retailers to devote a section to organic wines.

Rankled by the U.S. rules, Bonetti and three California wineries who specialize in organically grown wines—backed by 35 other businesses and 60 individuals—petitioned the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in April 2010 to allow all wines made entirely from organic grapes to be labeled “organic,” regardless of whether the preservative sulfur dioxide is added.

Quibbling over a widely used preservative, the group claimed, discourages more winegrowers from embracing organic certification and eschewing synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides in favor of more natural methods. “Without the USDA Organic seal, many consumers don’t understand that it’s an organic product,” said Bonetti, who filed the petition with Barra of Mendocino, Paul Dolan Vineyards and Redwood Valley Cellars. If consumers won’t pay a premium for the organically grown wines, as they do with organic milk, Bonetti said, “there’s no incentive for farmers doing really good work.”

Although an NOSB committee originally approved the petition, the full board voted 9 to 5 to reject it in December 2011, after another coalition of organic winemakers and distributors—including Frey, LaRocca Vineyards, the Organic Wine Works and Organic Vintages—argued to keep the standards the same. They were backed by the Minnesota-based Organic Consumers Association, which collected more than 10,000 signatures opposing the petition.

“If you’re going to call something organic across the board, whether it be wine or bread or pasta sauce, you should try to keep the standard to the highest level,” said California winegrower Phil LaRocca, who has been making no-sulfite-added organic wines for 30 years and helped develop the original standards.

Sulfur, a naturally occurring element, is permitted in organic vineyards as a non-toxic fungicide. Added during wine production or bottling, the compound sulfur dioxide protects against oxidation and microbes, keeping wine fresh, stable and free of flaws throughout shipping and non-refrigerated storage. A small but growing number of producers make no-sulfite-added wines however, most winemakers believe some sulfites are essential to making quality wine for commercial distribution.

LaRocca and his group consider the form of sulfur dioxide added to wine to be synthetic, which violates the principles of organics. “Our fear is that this would open the door to other issues. Why couldn’t a breadmaker say they would like to use calcium propionate as a preservative in their breads?” asked LaRocca. He acknowledges that making wine without sulfites is not easy but feels the “made with organic grapes” label is a fair way to accommodate the producers who do so.

In the United States, both “organic wine” and wine “made with organic grapes” are made from grapes only from certified organic vineyards and are produced in certified wineries. But the former have less than 10 parts per million of sulfites, accounting for those that may occur naturally during the fermentation process, while the latter can contain added sulfites up to 100 parts per million, well below the 350 parts per million allowed in conventional wine. (The “contains sulfites” label is required because some asthmatics have adverse reactions while many other people blame sulfites for headaches and allergic responses, these may be caused by histamines and tannins in the wines.)

In contrast, the new EU rules for “organic wine” allow a maximum of 100 parts per million for red wine (compared to 150 for conventional reds) and 150 parts per million for whites and rosés (compared to 200 for their conventional counterparts). Sweet wines are allotted an extra 30 parts per million as more sulfites are typically needed to prevent residual sugar from fermenting in the bottle. Canada allows up to 100 parts per million in its organic wines.

When it comes to the distinctions between organic food labels and wine labels in the United States, even sophisticated organic shoppers can get confused, Bonetti believes. In both cases, “organic” must contain 95 percent organic ingredients, allowing for processing aids for which there are no organic options. However, in the organic foods category, the “made with …” label means the item is only required to have a minimum of 70 percent organic ingredients. For example, a salsa made with organic tomatoes but conventional onions couldn’t be “organic” salsa but rather “made with organic tomatoes.”

Because wine is essentially a single-ingredient product, any wines that just say “made with organic grapes” are entirely organic grapes. A wine that contains up to 30 percent non-organic grapes would have to be labeled with another category—“made with organic grapes and non-organic grapes”—and the grapes must be different varieties, such as 70 percent organic Cabernet Sauvignon and 30 percent non-organic Merlot. (Wines with less than 70 percent organic ingredients can only list that in an ingredients statement, with the corresponding percentage.)

For now, Bonetti is taking a break from the time and expense of trying to change the regulations, concentrating instead on educating customers about organics, labeling and sulfites. But he’s not ruling out a petition rematch in the future. “If someone gives me $40,000 to $50,000,” he added, “I will do it all again in five years, when the 15 board members are all new.”

International restrictions [ edit | edit source ]

Most recently Canada, Australia, Chile, Brazil, and China passed laws or signed agreements with Europe that limit the use of the term "Champagne" to only those products produced in the Champagne region.

The United States bans the use from all new U.S.-produced wines. Only those that had approval to use the term on labels before 2006 may continue to use it and only when it is accompanied by the wine's actual origin (e.g., "California"). The majority of US-produced sparkling wines do not use the term Champagne on their labels and some states, such as Oregon, ban producers in their states from using the term.

In the United States name protection of wine-growing place names is becoming more important. Several key U.S. wine regions, such as those in California (Napa, Sonoma Valley, Paso Robles), Oregon, and Walla Walla, Washington, came to consider the remaining semi-generic labels as harmful to their reputations (cf. Napa Declaration on Place).

Even the terms méthode champenoise and Champagne method were forbidden by an EU court decision in 1994. As of 2005 the description most often used for sparkling wines using the second fermentation in the bottle process, but not from the Champagne region, is méthode traditionnelle.

Other French wine regions cannot use the name Champagne: e.g., Burgundy and Alsace produce Crémant. In 2008, more than 3,000 bottles of sparkling wine produced in California labelled with the term "Champagne" were destroyed by Belgian government authorities.

4. Charlottesville, Virginia

Sure, Virginia is more closely associated with historical sites than sensational wines, but you might not know the Commonwealth was actually the birthplace of American wine. Thomas Jefferson planted grapes at his home, Monticello, nearly 250 years ago. While he had little success, in the years that followed, the pastoral landscape, fertile soil, and lengthy growing season (over 200 days) have produced a number of award-winning wines.

Just north of Charlottesville is Barboursville Vineyards, which is Virginia’s largest. This 900-acre estate produces a Nebbiolo so authentic, you might just think you’ve been transported to Piedmont. If you favor Chardonnay or Cabernet Franc, a trip to Blenheim Vineyards—one of the 23 wineries located on the Monticello Wine Trail—is a must.

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Understanding Chile's Wine Regions

Faced by an array of Chilean wines in their neighborhood wine shop, most consumers base their buying decisions on price and grape variety. But a little learning will go a long way to steer you toward the best wines on the shelf. Knowing which of Chile’s wine regions are best for certain varieties or styles will help you pick winners, time after time.

And when it comes to Chilean terroir, nobody knows more about where specific grapes grow best than Pedro Parra, Chile’s pre-eminent expert in soil composition and the impact that climate has on the wines his country produces.

Nicknamed the “Terroir Hunter,” Parra, who holds a Ph.D. in agronomy and wine-specific terroir from the Institut National Agronomique de Paris-Grignon, has conducted more than 20,000 soil studies, the majority in his native Chile. Parra holds that Chile is blessed with diverse terroirs that strongly influence the characters of its top wines.

Yet, these terroirs are not entirely unique to Chile, according to Parra. He suggests that some of Chile’s best terroirs are similar to those in some of the world’s most lauded wine regions.

“Take Chilean granite, and granite from Hermitage in France…the rocks are about the same age, same color and have the same fractures,” says Parra. “But the [Syrahs] from Chile and the northern Rhône are very different. The climate is not the same, this is true, and there are other differences. But without an understanding of Hermitage granite, you might not understand how similar it is to Apalta in Colchagua.”

Likewise, “Without knowing the soils and climate along California’s Sonoma Coast, you wouldn’t know that it’s almost exactly like the Leyda Valley in Chile,” says Parra.

Following are overviews of four of Chile’s most prominent wine regions, including a look at each region’s terroir and a dozen recommended wines that capture the country at its finest.

The Colchagua Valley lies about 100 miles south of Santiago and runs west from the Andes foothills to the Pacific Ocean. According to Parra, Colchagua’s terroir is influenced by a warm, breezy, dry climate.

With vineyards planted from approximately 650 feet to 3,110 feet above sea level, there are hot spots on the valley floor and cool pockets higher up the hillsides.

“Soils are a mosaic of granite, volcanic, clay and schist,” says Parra.

Colchagua is often compared to California’s Napa Valley. Warm-weather red varieties thrive here, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère and Syrah, with some Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot thrown into the mix.

Building a Reputation

Closer to the Pacific, some wineries are growing Syrah in a cool, windy area called Marchigue (pronounced mar-CHEE-way). Meanwhile, just miles inland from the sea in a subzone called Paredones, a trio of wineries (Casa Silva, Santa Helena and Koyle) is forging ahead with Sauvignon Blanc. The wines are similar in style to those made in the Leyda and San Antonio valleys to the north, although the Paredones wines are even stronger in acidity.

Colchagua’s Apalta subzone, located on the north side of the Colchagua Valley near the village of Cunaco, has already carved out a global reputation.

This horseshoe-shaped area, with southern, southwestern and southeastern exposures, is a monster in terms of size, with more than 1,700 acres of vineyards shared by numerous wineries, including Lapostolle, Montes, Ventisquero, Neyen and Santa Rita.

Rock and Roll

The terroir at Apalta, according to Parra, is defined by granite bedrock, hillside plantings and southerly exposures that ensure optimal ripeness. The best wines are a product of Apalta’s granitic soils and the slightly cooler temperatures derived from exposition and altitude, creating the quintessential marriage of stony minerality, raw power and structured balance.

If the terroir is rocky and slightly cool in the Apalta hills, it’s another world on the valley floor.

Chile’s finest Malbecs—Viu 1 and a vineyard-designated bottling—hail from Viu Manent’s San Carlos property. Unlike Apalta, the San Carlos vineyard sits in flatlands atop deep, porous clay soils with excellent drainage.

José Miguel Viu, managing director for his family’s winery, says San Carlos, planted some 80 years ago, sings of Colchagua’s diversity.

“Like any great wine region throughout the world, there’s a human factor in Colchagua,” says Viu. “We have an inspired group here that has given our valley a dynamism and sense of community that doesn’t exist elsewhere in Chile. On the other hand, the valley offers natural conditions and diverse soils and climates that allow us to make wines from many varieties, and in many styles.”

Domaines Barons de Rothschild 2010 Le Dix de Los Vascos (Colchagua Valley) $65, 93 points. Pasternak Wine Imports. Editors’ Choice.

Lapostolle 2010 Clos Apalta (Colchagua Valley) $93, 93 points. Terlato Wines International.

Montes 2011 Folly Syrah (Colchagua Valley) $90, 92 points. TGIC Importers.

The Maipo Valley is Chile’s most historic region, with grape plantings dating back to the time of the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. But it was during the 19th century, when Bordeaux grape varieties (primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) were first imported to Chile from France, that the modern Maipo Valley began to take shape.

Today, Maipo is home to Chile’s greatest Cabernet-based wines, bottlings like Santa Rita’s Casa Real, Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor, Errazuriz’s Viñedo Chadwick and Almaviva.

Geographically, Maipo is divided into three parts: the Alto Maipo (or Maipo Andes) a less-descript area called Entre Cordilleras, or “between the mountains,” in this case, the Andes and the Coastal Range and Coastal Maipo, which is in essence Leyda, where the Maipo River enters the Pacific Ocean. Among the three, the Alto Maipo is king when it comes to producing world-class wines, Cabernet Sauvignon in particular.

Where Cab Is King

“Alto Maipo presents a fresh and dry Andean climate, bringing natural high acidity to the wines,” says Parra. “The best soils are composed of alluvial gravel coming down from the Andes range.”

“Maipo is the region that has permitted us to produce Cabernet Sauvignon of high quality and global prestige,” adds Enrique Tirado, the winemaker for Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, one of Chile’s signature wines. “Don Melchor is a reflection of the vineyard in Puente Alto, whose location close to the Andes has created unique soils and the perfect climate for the vines.”

Nebbiolo Red Wine Guide

Nebbiolo is an Italian red grape variety grown mainly in the mountainous region of Piedmont. The northern region is famous for DOCG wines like Barolo and Barbaresco, which are composed solely of Nebbiolo. The grape is sometimes compared to Pinot Noir because of the challenges it presents in the vineyard. It buds early yet struggles to ripen without the right amount of heat. Quality levels are also differentiated by a system similar to Burgundy’s Cru classifications.

Nebbiolo In 60 Seconds:

  • Nebbiolo is a red grape variety that is native to Piedmont, Italy.
  • Nebbiolo wines are often lightly-colored, yet full-bodied and highly tannic.
  • Nebbiolo’s high tannin levels make it an ideal wine to age, sometimes for decades.
  • In Italy, Nebbiolo is labeled by the region in which it is grown, like Barolo or Barbaresco.

What Nebbiolo Tastes Like

The full-bodied character of Nebbiolo often comes as a surprise to drinkers given the wine’s light color. As a young wine, Nebbiolo appears pale with garnet tones. It expresses red fruit aromas and flavors such as cranberry and cherry, and also has a distinct floral character with notes of rose and violet. Due to Nebbiolo’s natural high tannin levels, it can take years of bottle aging for the fruit character, acidity, and tannins of the wine to become balanced. With age, the wine develops a brick-orange hue, and reveals secondary and tertiary notes of prunes, truffle, and leather.

Differences Between Barolo and Barbaresco

The most sought-after and famous wines made using Nebbiolo are from the Barolo and Barbaresco zones, in the north-west corner of Italy. The region is home to hilly terrain, with some vineyards growing at altitudes as high as 2,000 feet above sea level. While the high altitudes can sometimes hinder ripening, in a good vintage they help produce remarkably perfumed, age-worthy wines with high acidity.

Barbaresco DOCG is the smaller of the two regions and has less stringent regulations. Barbaresco wines must age in oak for at least nine months with a total age time of two years before release. Riserva wines must age for at least four years before release. High-quality versions can age five to ten years, sometimes longer.

Barolo DOCG is nearly three times the size of Barbaresco yet still only five miles wide at its broadest point. Barolo wines must age in oak for at least 18 months with a total age time of three years before release. Riserva Barolo must age five years before being released, with high-quality versions suitable for drinking sometimes up to 20 years later.

Other Areas That Grow Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo isn’t confined to just Barbaresco and Barolo. The grape grows in more than 50 sub-regions across Piedmont. Many sub-regions, like Gattinara DOCG and Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, are home to vineyards located on less steep slopes. In these zones, Nebbiolo can be blended with other grapes, if needed. Many producers opt to make varietal Nebbiolo when possible, but also incorporate grapes such as Bonarda, Croatina, and Vespolina. Elsewhere in northern Italy, Nebbiolo is grown in the Lombardy regions of Valtellina as well as Franciacorta.

Outside of Italy, Nebbiolo can be found in parts of California’s Central Coast. While slightly less tannic, the structure and unique floral character are still evident. Producers in Australia are also gaining recognition for varietal Nebbiolo, particularly in warmer pockets like Victoria where sun and heat help the grape thrive.

What Food to Pair with Nebbiolo

After some time in a decanter, the high acidity and complex tannins make Nebbiolo a beautiful choice for pairing with food. For more successful combinations, look for foods that feature fat, butter, and olive oil to help balance the tannins. Avoid dishes that are too lean — this wine needs hearty and decadent foods to shine.

Given Nebbiolo’s heritage in northern Italy, start with rustic, Italian fare. Rich meat dishes, cheese-ridden pasta, or a creamy risotto are all great choices as the tannins bind to the food proteins and come across softer. Nebbiolo also goes surprisingly well with savory Chinese dishes and spice-driven Asian cuisines.


The diet of the French people is generally considered healthy, and most citizens receive adequate nutrition. In 2001 the countries of Europe experienced outbreaks of two diseases, "mad cow disease" and "hoof and mouth disease" that affected the cattle and sheep herds. Many countries enacted laws and regulations restricting the import and export of meat during that period, until the diseases could be brought under control. In France, there have been protests at some fast food restaurants in an attempt to drive them out of the country to keep the traditional quality of French food and the French lifestyle.

Wine Regions of Portugal

The wine regions in Portugal experience a wide variation in soil, traditions and influence of the Atlantic, Mediterranean and even continental climates. Additionally, the difference in orientation of the vineyards, hills, slopes and prevailing winds play an important factor in the micro-climate of the vineyards therefore producing wines of different types and quality across different regions.

The soil varies enormously, from granite, slate and schist in the far north to patches of limestone, clay and sand in the south.

The wine regions of Portugal are Douro, Dão, Minho (Vinho Verde), Bairrada, Tavora-Varosa, Trás-os-Montes, Beira Interior, Tejo, Lisboa which are to the north of its capital city Lisbon and Alentejo, Algarve, Setúbal Peninsula, Açores, and Madeira located to the south of Lisbon.

Each of these wine regions and appellations have its own history, and their collective histories make up the history of Portuguese wine.

In this article we explore the main grape varieties and interesting historical facts of five major wine regions of Portugal: Alentejo, Douro, Dão, Lisboa (Lisbon) and Madeira.


Alentejo wine region located in the south-central part of Portugal is a land of sun, open vistas and medieval towns. To the north it borders the left bank of the Tagus river and its name, in Portuguese literally means 'beyond the Tagus'.

The region is vast and varied with plains and mountains and the temperature and soil varies across the region with the resulting terroir producing wines having good fruit flavors, complexity, soft tannins and acidity making them a good pairing with food.

  • The region has a long history of making wine and some ancient methods of wine-making are still preserved in this region—for example the maturation of wine in clay vessels called 'talhas de barro' which were used during the Roman period.
  • Alentejo is also home of the Portuguese wine cork industry as cork oak trees grow abundantly in this region.
  • Though the region has attracted many new wine producers, most of the wine is produced by 6 co-ops.

Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah have been imported to this region. Red grapes are more popular than the floral white grapes.


The Douro Valley located in the north of Portugal is one of the top wine regions of the world and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage region. The culture and landscape of the Alto Douro signify its long history, traditions and evolution as a wine-making region—terraces, quintas (wine-producing estates), villages, chapels, and roads.

Douro is also home of the Port wine which has been Portugal's well known product since the 18th century. Most of the finest vineyards are planted on the steep hillsides bordering the Douro River and its tributaries, such as the Pinhão, the Távora and the Rio Torto. The soil in which the Douro Valley vines are planted is made up of schist, a slate-like metamorphic rock rich in nutrients.

  • Wine has been produced in the Alto Douro region for some 2000 years.
  • Between 1757 and 1761 the first comprehensive classification of the Douro Valley was carried out making it the first demarcated and regulated wine region in the world.
  • The Upper Douro is considered to be one of the most difficult places where vineyards have been planted and the terraces which were build along the mountainsides to hold up the soil and plant the vines are a testament to the hard work, determination, passion and engineering skills that were required for wine-making in this region.

Dão named after the river that runs through it is located in the north of Portugal, south of the Douro Valley and its wine-making is centered around its ancient city of Viseu.

The region produces a range of grapes and is well known for some of the country's best red wines.

  • Dão region has been at the forefront of Portuguese table wine production for many years.
  • The biggest name in Dão wine production is Sogrape a pioneer of varietal wines in the region and the largest Portuguese wine producer.
  • Most of the vineyards in this region are situated at altitudes between 200-500 meters above sea level, hence getting plenty of sunshine while experiencing cooler night-time temperatures which preserves the acidity levels in the grapes, creating wines with a good balance of fruit flavor, tannins and freshness.

Lisboa (Estremadura)

This wine region known as Estremadura until 2008 is a prolific wine region running north from Lisbon along the Atlantic Ocean.

The influence of the Atlantic Ocean and the inland terrain of hills and mountain ranges creates a broad terroir and wine with distinct characteristics based on the location of the vineyard and producer.

  • The region named after the capital city of Portugal is dominated by large co-ops.
  • It makes a lot of inexpensive wine known as vinho da mesa (table wine). The region is also know for its sparkling wine which comes from the Óbidos sub-region.
  • When compared to other regions of Portugal the grape varieties planted in the Lisboa region have been selected for their high yields and disease resistance rather than the indigenous grapes.

Grape varieties introduced from other regions of Portugal are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. International grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay are also grown in this region.


Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago situated in the north Atlantic Ocean southwest of Lisbon. It is particularly known for its fortified wine.

Early exporters of Madeira wines realized that adding a little brandy enabled the wines to survive long journeys. They also found that something extraordinary happened during long, hot sea voyages across the equator—the wine acquired a depth of flavor, softness and a pleasant nutty taste. These wines became known as vinho da roda or wine of the round voyage. Today, most Madeira wine producers use a heating process called Estufagem to produce the wine.

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