If you’re a wine lover, we’re guessing you’re also someone who loves to travel. Because isn’t a bottle of wine just the authentic taste of a country, the soul of its people, and a whole bunch of grapes all mashed together? And today, we’re going to help you explore the southern region of Portugal known as the Algarve via its wine. And should you ever find your way to Southern Portugal, which we highly recommend you do, we have a few tips on the best places to drink local wine and stay in Lagos, an old city/ fishing village that’s the beating heart of the Algarve.
Portuguese wine is world-class, but it’s been long overshadowed by its wine-soaked neighbors France, Spain and Italy. But things are slowly but surely changing, due to Portugal’s recent rise in popularity as a travel destination–and we think that has to do with its wonderful food, jaw-dropping vistas, and their incredible wine that is incomprehensibly inexpensive. The Duoro Valley in the north near Porto is Portugal’s most famous region, but in and around the Algarve on the south coast, you’ll find a number of wines and vineyards that are finally getting their day in the sun. While the Algarve only makes up about 1 per cent of Portugal’s wine output, there is definitely a renaissance of sorts happening in the region. And we’re excited to let you know about it.
Grapes in the Algarve grow in many kinds of soils including clay, limestone and sandstone. They get long, hot sun exposure with a strong, cool breeze coming off the Atlantic. It’s a perfect storm for wine. According to The Portugalist: “The Algarve is all set to be the next great Portuguese wine region. It has a similar climate to the Douro, but the proximity to the sea adds an extra element of freshness to the flavor profile of each wine. Days are hot, so the grapes ripen fully and become super fruity, but the nights are cool so they don’t lose their zingy acidity. Basically if you like full-bodied and mouth-watering wines, the Algarve is a great region to discover.” And after sampling many glasses sitting in the cafés of Lagos, this writer is fully prepared to showcase our favorite red, white and rosé Algarve wines, each under $20 a bottle:
Yes, please, I’ll have another. This is an elegant and quite powerful (in all the right ways) wine made with an intriguing mix of trincadeira, aragones, cabernet sauvignon, and syrah grapes. Despite its heft, it’s a super smooth and drinkable wine that is only the second to ever be produced at the Qunita do Francês family estate – which is nestled into the hills of Silves, banking the Odelouca River Valley.
Definitely drink this wine with roasted lamb or a nice juicy steak.
If you’re into award-winning wine, this white wine and its vineyard, Qunita Dos Vales, have won a lot. With good reason. Paulo Laureano and Dorina Lindemann are the duo behind the winery, and their outstanding white wine is Grace Vineyard, a pale-yellow wine with a ton of amazing aromas of toast, citrus, like tangerine, as well as a hint of passion fruit. It’s hard-to-pin-down taste comes from its mix of viognier, arinto, syrah, malvasia fina, and antão vaz grapes.
Also, you’re in luck, this vineyard offers accommodation so you can take a snooze in one of their casas after tasting all their sustainable wines.
We saved the best for last. Wow. Just wow. This rosé just knocks it out of the park. It’s a very special Portuguese rosé made with the grapes: crato branco & negra mole. The wines of the Morgado do Quintão vineyard are barely a blip on the radar, but mark our words, this winery is making wines that you’re going to hear about in the future. Their red Clarete (pictured here and below) is also out of this world. Get your hands on a few bottles now.
Here’s the scoop on the vineyard and its owner:
Filipe Vasconcellos’s mission in the Algarve is to rescue two old grape varieties, crato branco and negra mole, from obscurity. He grows these grapes at his Morgado do Quintão, which he inherited from his mother. It’s a stunning vineyard that also has a 1,000 year-old olive tree grove and olive mill. And, lucky for you, its cottages are also available for rent.
Speaking of places to drink the best Portuguese wine from the Algarve where you can also lodge for the night, we wanted to be sure to let you know about Casa Mãe. It’s Lagos most chic hotel, or casa, created with love by a Parisian banker who left France behind for the Portuguese coast. And she turned a few old and grizzled buildings into a veritable paradise.
In addition to beautifully designed rooms, the hotel boasts wading pools, a boutique that sells only Portuguese-made products, a garden that produces food for its restaurant, Orta – plus a list of Portuguese wines that will blow your mind. Check out their wine list below.
Try these Algarve wines and you’ll feel as if you’re ensconced in the beauty and wild intrigue of South Portugal, a land filled with the living history of 15th century navigators like da Gama and Colombus, as well as orange and olive groves, a crisp and pulsing ocean, and a long-standing wine culture that’s finally getting the attention it deserves.
Do you have any favorite wines from the Algarve or Portuguese wines? Tell us in the comment section below!