Wines of Portugal Master Class & Grand Tasting @ Westin Hotel
Portugal has a fantastic selection of wine despite being overshadowed by two Old World giants, France and Italy. The Wines of Portugal Grand Tasting and Master Class held at Westin Hotel in Singapore hopes to popularize Portuguese wine by featuring more than 20 producers showcasing over 100 different wines. The Ancient Romans first introduced wine making and grape growing techniques to Portugal. And when trade relations between Portugal and England grew, so did the reputation of Port wine. The fortified wine quickly became synonymous with Portugal. But there’s more to be discovered about the wine and vineyard in Portugal than just Port wine.
One of the producers we discovered was Herdade do Mouchão from Central Portugal. The Reynolds family has owned it since the mid 19th century when Thomas Reynolds set out south of Porto in search of a cork estate. Up until today today, a large area of the estate is still producing cork. But it is their wine that is famous.
In 1974, the Carnation Revolution took place and the locals seized the Mouchão estate. The vineyard was trashed and the wines stored there were all consumed. When the vineyard was returned to the family in 1985/86 the family sought to return the estate to her former glory. The vineyard needed to be completely replanted but fortunately, the winery was left unscathed.
An interesting grape vine they have in Herdade do Mouchão is Alicante Bouschet. This grape makes up 80% of their flagship wine. What is interesting about this vine is that it is a teinturier. This means the skin as well as the pulp are pigmented. Hence, the wines produced from them have a darker hue. There is a very strong sense of tradition at the winery as the grapes are all handpicked and foot treaded. In the vineyard they even use fig trees to protect the vines from birds. Because figs ripen around the same time as the grapes, the birds have an easier and tastier alternative to feed on.
Another hidden gem we discovered was Vidigal wines. They are on the other spectrum. They are progressive. They craft their wines to suit the customers and not expecting the customers to adjust to their tastes. Because the owner has spent time building his brand in Scandinavia, he has a different perspective on how wines from Portugal should progress to cater to the global market. With their edgier bottle designs, they hope to appeal to the younger wine drinkers. Having met these completely different producers opened us up to the world of wine in Portugal and showed us how diverse wines in Portugal can be.
Fun fact: There are more than 250 native grape varieties in Portugal!
Singapore is a relatively new market for Portuguese wine. Producers from Portugal are just starting to market their wines here and we can expect to see a lot more of them in the next few years. For the wine lovers and aficionados out there, Portugal is a region to keep an eye out for.