Olá India!… Say Portuguese Wines.

Trick or treat? Ask the halloween question to a winemaker and invariably the  response would be ‘Treat’ since there is no better joy than presenting one’s wines for appreciation!  But what do you call a wine treat that is yours for asking without the antics of a trick? You could not be complaining! This is the current wine scenario in India where the country’s shores are awash with exotic wines from the world over with producers making scrupulous efforts to showcase their wonderful creations!


Portugal is one such vinously rich country whose wines have started creating mammoth waves across oceans.  Not many would be aware that the first ever formally demarcated Quality Wine Specified Production Region (QWSPR) of the world goes to the credit of Portugal, when in 1756, the Douro region was classified  to protect the authenticity of Port- the best known fortified wine of the world  (sharing the honours with Sherry from Spain of course)! Portugal however, is much more than Port, and this was the emphasis at a tasting conducted at the salubriously beautiful  residence of Portuguese Ambassador to India, H.E. Jorge Roza de Oliveira– himself  a noted champion of the wine cause. The wines for the tasting were brought in by Joopy WWB– a Portuguese marketing concern, with their CEO José Carlos Costa (JCC) spearheading the enthusiastic showcasing. Joopy is a cute little ‘Nemo-ish’ kind of fish that is the mascot of the Company and was created by JCC in 2002. As per him, it symbolises the ‘Fish Philosophy’ of Playfulness, Dependability, Commitment and Positive Attitude. And it sure expresses these virtues with an ebullient demeanour!


Portuguese Wine Areas: Geographically speaking

Area wise a small country, Portugal is around 600 kms in length and 200 in width.  The major wine regions of the country are  Vinho Verde, Douro, Dao, Bairrada, Ribatejo and Alantejo. The country is bordered by Spain on the northern and eastern sides  and the Atlantic ocean on the other two. This endows it with diversity of terroir (soil, microclimate and production methods) and in turn contributes towards a broad spectrum of wine styles over short distances.

General Impression of wines tasted

Though the grape varieties from Portugal are unique, the range of flavours  are of course discernible in the same way as common wine tasting terms. There was however an element of intrigue brought about by the autochthonous varietals – in that the beauty of a distinct regional identity was well embossed. For instance, several of the reds were with medium levels of colour extraction but without

compromising on structure. With a reference to French wines, I would say that it could well be called a blend of Bordeaux and Beaujolais styles. Moreover, after Portugal becoming part of the EU in 1986, winemaking techniques from different regions of Europe have seen an amalgamation of sorts and some wines from Portugal now even use the well known international varietals. So is a Super Tuscan like scenario coming up here?  Only time would tell.

Wines Tasted


Regueiro White 2011
Region: Vinho Verde
Grapes: Alvarinho, Trajadura

Pale lemon with green undertones and aromas of citrus fruits, green apples and pears. A crisp and  light bodied wine with crunchy acidity. Ideal with sea food and creamy dishes.


Desigval White 2012
Region: Alentejo
Grapes: Antao Vaz,Arinto, Verdelho,Perrum

Clean, straw coloured with aromas of peaches and red apples and some citrus notes. The palate was light bodied, fruity a little honeyed and with good acidity levels. I would recommend this wine as an aperitif or with sea food/ white meat.


Pontval White 2009
Region: Alentejo
Grapes: Antao Vaz,Arinto, Verdelho,Perrum

Pale gold and having aromas of grapefruit, lemon and white flowers. Medium bodied dry and fruity on the palate with a hint of oak. A good wine with food due to its fuller body and complex character.


Fura Red 2010
Region: Douro
Grapes: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca

Tinta Roriz is another name for Tempranillo in the Douro region (Tempranillo is also known as Aragones in the Alentejo region). The wine was light ruby in colour with red fruits and perfumed aromas. The palate however was too light for my liking and I wished it could be firmer in structure.


Desigval Red 2012
Region: Alentejo
Grapes: Alicante Bouscet, Aragone, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trincadeira

This wine represents the increasing trend of international varietals being opted in traditional Portuguese wine making. The wine had a Claret like translucent bright cherry colour with plums, red cherries and farmyard aromas. On the palate it was juicy with light tannins. An easy going and savoury red that could easily go solo as a casual drink.

Pontval TN/T Red 2012
Region: Alentejo
Grapes: Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira
Ageing: 6 months in American and French oak

TN/T does not mean the explosive Tri Nitro Toluene here! It shorthands  Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira – the two powerful native Portuguese grape varietals. The wine was deep ruby in colour and aromas of cooked fruits and red cherries. On the palate it was medium bodied with rounded tannins and lots of ripe red fruits as well as some spice. A good food wine.


Donzel Reserva Red 2005
Region: Douro
Grapes: Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Francisca
Ageing: 9 months in American and French oak

This was the wine in my top two for the evening as it had it all! Good structure, outstanding complexity and a resonance of wine attributes. With a medium ruby colour, the wine had aromas of strawberries and red cherries and a medium palate of soft tannins and layered fruitiness.  A delightful wine that could make the job of food pairing a cinch!


Pontval Reserva Red 2006
Region: Alentejo
Grapes: Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Syrah
Ageing: 6 months in American and French oak

Another of my top two, this was a wine with a powerful nose of blackberries, chocolate and earthy aromas. Dark ruby in colour with a full body and flavours of blackberries, fruit compote smoke and spice. A royal wine for pairing with robust food!


CLA Reserve Ruby Port
Region: Douro
Grapes: Not Specified (Port blends are complex to state)

A non vintage Port (I was expecting a vintage here) , this one had a bright ruby colour with a fruity, honeyed and nutty nose. The palate had abundance of red berries and nuts with a nice long finish. Went off quite well with the Indian dessert of Gulab Jamuns.

The most delightful aspect of the tasting was its upfront, honest and passionate conduct by the organisers, that facilitated the purpose of creating a sunrise moment for Portuguese wines in India- and solving for sure,  the ‘Trick’ part for wine lovers! No friend of Wine would mind getting ‘tricked’ into a wine tasting though!

Abridged version of this post appeared in Spiritz magazine June 13 issue
Abridged version of this post appeared in
Spiritz magazine June 13 issue
Col Joe
wirtten by: Col Joe
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