Those who have visited one of the many Quintas in the Douro valley, and who have enjoyed the views over the narrow river bends and breathtakingly steeply terraced vineyards, will know why the valley, with its unique cultural landscape, has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1996. Only the Mosel valley in Germany can hold a candle to it. There, as well, the grape vines grow around barren slate.
And yet Portugal has still a number of additional vinological discoveries to offer: The tradition rich DOC Dão, for instance, which stands for balanced wines with clear mineral acidity, full of flavour, character and intensity; the Bairrada region, which is more influenced by the Atlantic, in which the earthy Baga grape dominates, and ensures very long lived wines; the area around Lisbon which is home to nine different DOCs, some of which are very small; the Tejo region, the Setúbal peninsular south of the river estuary, which is known for its impressive sweet wines, and the sun-kissed Alentejo, which has recently not only produced straightforward, velvety red wines, but also an increasing variety of masterpieces which are also finding use in international varieties such as Syrah. An insider's tip: The liqueur wines from the Azores and Madeira are in a class of their own.
The Portuguese have happily doubled their exports to the German market over the past decade, albeit at a somewhat uneven rate: The pinnacle that was achieved in the year of the European Football Championships in 2004 with 16 million litres was followed by a drop to 11.2 million litres the next year – the 2004 level has now been exceeded though. According to the German Office for Statistics, in 2012, 16.9 million hectolitres were exported from Portugal to Germany. And in the first half of 2013, red and Rosé wines, which account for two thirds of the production, recorded a further increase of 6.8 per cent, and white wines saw an impressive 9.1 per cent rise.
Wine journalist and expert on Portugal David Schwarzwälder is convinced that thanks to its relatively cool climate and huge variety of terroirs, the small country in the south west corner of Europe still has enormous future potential for high quality wines: "Portugal stands for styles of wine which are, to a certain extent, far from the mainstream, and therefore offer a high degree of individuality."
Together with other specialists, such as sommelier and author Christina Fischer, British Master of Wine Tim Atkin, port wine specialist Axel Probst and Gault Millau sommelier of the year 2013 Thomas Sommer, in tasting sessions at ProWein 2013, Schwarzwälder brought visitors closer to the vinological variety of Lusitania.