Lisbon, the pearl of the Atlantic. Portugal's capital is surrounded by beautiful beaches and vineyards on the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula. There it extends in stages over seven hills on the shore, which accounts for the very special charm of the city and has earned it the name "City of the 7 Hills".
In the surrounding area is the wine region, which was known as Estremadura until 2009 and has developed into one of the most important wine-growing regions in Portugal over the past few centuries. Today it is known under the name of Lisboa .
Diverse climate and geographical uniqueness
The Lisboa region is particularly characterized by its different climate zones and soil conditions. Inland, mountains and hills shelter the eastern part, the coast is very windy and the cultivated areas are often sheltered by bamboo groves.
The mild winter and relatively hot summer, which is moderated by the cool wind from the Atlantic and therefore rarely causes extreme temperatures, create good overall conditions for winegrowing.
Precisely because of this climatic versatility, Lisboa has a large selection of wines of different quality to offer. Excellent wines such as DOC, Vinho Regional, but also inexpensive table wines are offered.
Quality over mass production
Nowadays in Lisboa the emphasis is on high quality. Two decades ago, however, things were very different. With 60,000 hectares of vineyards at the time (today 30,000 hectares), cultivation in this region alone accounted for a quarter of the country's total production.
Under the motto "mass instead of quality", the producers of large quantities of cheap cask wine could live well and earn a decent income.
But consumer behavior has also changed in Portugal and consumers are making much higher demands on the taste of wine. Many manufacturers had to adapt to ensure their survival in the industry.
After the new construction of the wine-growing area, the entire quality potential of the region is now being exploited.
The most radical change in this process affected the area of grape varieties: Many producers got rid of the varieties that brought in a lot of money, but did not meet the same quality standards as the varieties from which they make the high-quality wine today.
The introduction of the Vinho Regional Estremadura designation in 1993 played an enormous role here. This gave winegrowers the opportunity to plant the most suitable grape varieties in their vineyards, thereby producing more individual wines and to suit every taste.
With this change in production and the increased quality of the wine, many winegrowers gained new self-confidence. You have finally been able to take off internationally and are now in a position to quench the wine thirst of customers throughout Europe.
This means that the wine from Lisboa is no longer overshadowed by the wines from other regions, but is now mostly offered under the name Vinho Regional Estremadura or bears the name of a DOC region within the area.
The sub-regions of Lisboa
Lisboa has more sub-regions than any other growing region in Portugal: nine in all. In these nine DOC areas, wines are produced independently, which account for a large part of the unmistakable character of the region and are therefore of enormous importance.
DOC Encostas de Aire
With its sub-areas Alcobaça and Ourém, Encostas de Aire is the largest DOC area within the Lisboa wine region. The area is regarded as a supplier of mostly light, pale red wines and sparkling, aromatic and fruity white wines.
Because of its size, the process of change in the 20th century reached this area last. But now the qualitative change that modernization has brought with it is clearly noticeable here as well.
This region is located about 50 km north of Lisbon and is one of the most important growing areas in Lisbon, especially in terms of quality. Both DOC wines and wines under the Vinho regional Estremadura designation are produced here.
The area's vineyards are sheltered from the wind by the limestone hills of the Serra Montejunto and are therefore in an excellent position for cultivation.
In the middle of a dreamy landscape, surrounded by hills and old windmills, the small DOC Arruda is located close to the capital. This area is mainly known for the production of red wines.
This small DOC area was officially demarcated north of Lisbon around the municipality of Bucelas in 1911. The region south of Arruda has a reputation for its cool-fermented white wines.
The warm sub-Mediterranean coastal climate means that the wines produced here have a high acidity. The region's winemakers are experimenting with different vinification techniques and traditional sparkling wines.
The DOC area, which has meanwhile become small, is located on the southern tip of Lisbon and is only known for red and white liqueur wines. The local wine tradition goes back to the 18th century. In the 19th century, the wines from Carcavelos even enjoyed a worldwide reputation.
The DOC Colares stretches along the Atlantic coast in the southwest. Protected from strong sea winds, the vines grow behind sand dunes.
Obtained from ungrafted Ramisco vines, the deeply colored wines are among the oldest in all of Portugal.
DOC Torres Vedras
The region around the town of Torres Vedras is on the Atlantic side of the Serra de Montejunto, where a cool, windy climate prevails.
The region is known for its mostly light and dry white wines. Light and spicy red wines are also produced to a small extent.
This DOC is located in the magical town of Óbidos . The cool air that prevails here offers the best conditions for fresh wines. So it is not surprising that some of the best sparkling wines in Portugal come from this region, with white and red wines also being widespread here.
The neighboring Lourinhã region is the DOC for Aguardentes , i.e. brandies. This is the only Portuguese appellation that focuses exclusively on brandies.
The Grapes of Lisboa
The variety of white grape varieties
Portugal can adorn itself with a variety of autochthonous grape varieties . The following are the grapes that are increasingly being cultivated in the Lisboa wine region.
Arinto - strong and lively
Arinto is a versatile grape grown in most regions of Portugal.
Strong and lively wines are made from Arinto, whose aromas surprise with a refreshing acidity, often with a mineral quality and a light apple, lime and lemon taste.
Fernão Pires – aromatic
Fernão Pires is one of the most widely grown grape varieties in Portugal. This grape grows more or less everywhere in the country.
It is very aromatic and combines flavors of lime, lemon, rose, tangerine and orange. These wines are best drunk young.
Malvasia - sweet
The wines of the Malvasia grape are often characterized by a discreet and delicate fragrance and a long-lasting finish and can be combined with a wide variety of dishes.
White Malvasia wines are characterized by their straw-yellow color and a floral-fruity aroma. They are dry, soft, fresh and pleasantly mineral
Seara Nova - light and neutral
The Seara Nova wines are rather light and neutral in aroma, have a medium body, accompanied by a hint of citrus and apple. Their alcohol content is often relatively high.
Vital – neutral
The wines pressed from the Vital vine are usually strong in alcohol and should be drunk young.
They are easily accessible, have little complexity and are neutral in taste.
The red grapes of Lisboa
Alicante Bouschet – velvety and round
Thanks to the deep red pulp, this grape delivers a very dark red wine, which is mainly characterized by the taste of dark cherries, plums, blackberries, blueberries and dried spices.
Aragonez - fruity
The Aragonez grape variety produces dark, fruity and characterful wines that inspire with notes of cherries, currants and raspberries.
Castelão – rustic
The Castelão is grown in the south of the country and does best in a hot and dry climate. The wines made from the Castelão grape are acidic and contain aromas of red currant, dried plum and occasionally a hint of well-aged game. This gives them their typical rustic character.
Tinta Miúda - fruity and spicy
A relatively rare, noble variety that produces strong and full-bodied wines with a floral aroma, which is particularly characterized by red berries and lemongrass.
Touriga Franca – delicately spicy
This grape is now cultivated all over northern Portugal. It is used to produce colour-intensive, dense and elegant red wines, which are characterized by blackberry and floral aromas.
Touriga Nacional - intense, floral and fruity
Many wine connoisseurs agree: the Touriga Nacional is one of Portugal's best grapes and at the top of the world rankings. Although the grape variety has its origins in the north, it is common throughout the country.
The Touriga has a thick skin and is characterized by its strong colour. Her bouquet is very intense, at the same time floral and fruity with notes of black currants, raspberries, herbs and liquorice.
Trincadeira - fruity and spicy
The fruity and characteristically fleshy wines of this grape variety produce a very specific silkiness and fruit intensity. The bouquet mainly contains notes of blackberries, wild berries, cinnamon and cloves.
Would you like to know more about Portuguese wine-growing regions? Then take a look at our wines from Portugal blog .
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