Produced through the fermentation of grape juice, wine is probably the drink that has brought the most joy to the lunches, dinners and the afternoons of many people around the world. With several variants, be it rosé, be it white or red, while there is a bottle of wine on the table there will certainly be stories to tell and remember.
The Last Supper was celebrated with wine and the celebration of the signing of the declaration of independence of the United States of America was entitled to a toast with Madeira wine, which shows the versatility of the drink, which can either cheer a group of friends or have a serious connotation and terminate contracts that have changed the world.
Portugal takes the position of one of the largest wine producers in the world. With wine of all qualities, Portugal produces wines that can please all palates, all over the country and the world. Portugal has wines of excellence recognised around the world as Port wine, a wine that carries with it an immense history.
From the continent to the archipelagos, Portugal has 14 wine regions that produce wine with various characteristics, colours, aromas and smells. Over time, wine is no longer just an essential element to have at a table during lunch, a romantic dinner or simply to cool off in the Summer. Wine has aroused the curiosity of many who proclaim themselves as experts in the area and search in the most diverse wine cellars for wines with their favourite characteristics. Wine is produced all over the country and in the whole country, it is not only the wine itself but also its production process.
In the Algarve region, wine production has gradually grown. The climatic and soil characteristics offer Algarve wines a unique identity. According to Jorge Santos, a sommelier from the Algarve, the juice extracted from the grape is treated using the most modern equipment, which gives the best quality to the final product.
In the Algarve, above all, red, white and rosé wines are produced, each with very specific characteristics. Jorge Santos explained to The Portugal News, that Algarve red wines have “ripe fruit aromas”, with balanced flavours and may “age well in the bottle.” Whites, on the other hand, present notes of freshness that, according to the sommelier, combine ‘perfectly’ with local cuisine. The rosés have aromas of red fruits and can either be accompanied with seafood or can also be drunk “fresh on a hot day.”
Wine tourism has grown throughout the country and some vineyards have bet on this tourism, such as Quinta dos Vales, in the municipality of Lagoa, in the Algarve. In an interview with The Portugal News, António Francês, director of Quinta dos Vales, admits that the future of the vineyard also involves wine tourism. The bet in this tourist sector involves, for example, the construction of 32 one bedroom, all with different dimensions, to welcome young couples, without children or “with a small child.”
According to António Francês, ‘the Quinta dos Vales project is mainly based on honesty.’ The wines are produced with the help of some professional intervention on the part of the winemakers, because “they are the ones who prepare the wine to reach the level of excellence.”
2020, regarding the quality of the grape, was an “absolutely exceptional year”, but the Covid-19 pandemic changed the plans a little, according to António Frances ‘the surplus concerning what is sold’ is one of the biggest problems of the year 2020, where both white and red wines are in stock without actually being sold.
In the municipality of Lagoa, at Quinta da Vinha, Quinta Wines produces a monastic wine and won ‘the gold medal in Brussels’ according to Dinis Gonçalves, the winemaker at Quinta da Vinha. The variety of wine in question is Negramole. Although they were not pioneers in the production of wine of this variety, Cabrita Wines were the first ones to produce Negramole in large volume and to be awarded a prize. Dinis Gonçalves says that everything started with’a production of five thousand bottles’, now the production is around twenty thousand bottles per year.
Cabrita wines have the mostl visibility in the Algarve, corresponding to ‘85 percent of sales’, however, the market has been growing and 10 percent of sales are centred in the Lisbon region and 5 percent on exports, according to Dinis Gonçalves.
Like Quinta dos Vales, Quinta da Vinha is not just focused on wine production. It was in 2016 that those responsible for the Quinta created a programme of guided tours, where it is possible to get to know the vineyards, the history of the Quinta and end with a wine tasting accompanied by tapas. The packages are adapted to the customer’s preferences.
Sara Silva, president of the Wine Algarve Commission (CVA), told The Portugal News, that there are registered in the CVA “45 economic agents, with 38 producers who actively place certified wine on the market.”
According to Sara Silva, the CVA, together with the producers, has carried out “important work in the promotion of wines from the Algarve”, whether it is being present at wine fairs or national and international competitions. The demand for the product benefits mainly due to tourism in the Algarve region. Sara Silva emphasises that the demand increases gradually, “following the growth of the region in terms of producers and new brands.”
The president of the CVA management said in an interview with The Portugal News that “there are still some myths that have to be demystified”, such as the myths related to the alcohol content of wines, the quality and price of the final product. This work has been done through the training given to the final consumer and, particularly, to those who work in the restaurants. Sara Silva calls for the presence of wines in the hotel industry, as it would bring a lot of visibility to the product.
In general, all those involved in wine production in the Algarve believe in the potential of the final product and hope that the Algarve wine will be recognised and consumed as it deserves.