Elegant, enigmatic, fresh, persistent, balanced, fruity, golden and with flowery aromas, created from unique varieties exclusively ours and resilient ancestral knowledge, Portuguese white wine has been gaining ground at our table, earning a worldwide reputation and winning international awards. It seems that the time has come to celebrate Portuguese white wine.
There are factors as significant for white wine – or any other wine, for that matter – as fingerprints are for citizens’ identification. A good winemaker or sommelier will detect, without margin for error, the characteristics of each variety, the particular odour of each type of terroir, the production methods and the geographic coordinates that each aroma and flavour reveals on the nose and palate. A trail comprised of knowledge and refined sensitivity that many master to the point of being able to identify the very year of production, due to signs with which the climate marked a harvest. These are specialized understandings that analyse and dissect the final product. In the beginning, however, in simple terms, it all starts with the grape – since before it the land, the varieties, the production methods and human effort have already been taken into account.
What does Portuguese white wine look like?
Still white wines – without carbon dioxide – are a result of the fermentation of skinless grapes. This standard doesn’t cover all still whites, with some processes choosing to keep the skin of the grapes in contact with the must in a pre-fermentation phase, as a way to better capture and retain aromas in this maceration. The colour of the white wine – whose shades range from pale yellow to golden and the more ‘roasted’ yellow variants – is assumed to be the result of white grapes, which is mostly true, but not exclusively. Still whites can also come from red varieties.
Finally, white wines tend to be smooth, with country aromas of flowers and fruits, and are clear. When created in the demanding Dão region, Portuguese white wine is also said to have a complex, smooth, fresh aroma, balanced acidity and a citrus colour.
Once considered a wine to be consumed in its year of production, Portuguese white wine has been exploring its aging capacity through in the use of oak barrels. A good example is Julia Kemper Reserva White Wine, which also includes being laid down in the cellars of Quinta do Cruzeiro, in Dão.
How are they recognized abroad?
International experts also recognize in Portuguese white wine the tenacity of the producers, the pride in the indigenous varieties, to which they remain loyal, and the centuries-old spirit and knowledge in wine production. Not only that, but they also recognise non-stop investment in quality, both in procedures and in the final product. Put them together, they say, and success is in sight: world-class wines that are already firmly on the way to the top tables, placing Portugal alongside the best white wine producers in the world.