The delivery box designed by Wine Lovers Algarve

New ways for old wine

Wine Lovers Algarve is a new, subscription-based wine club aimed at encouraging local people to discover the many different artisan wines the Algarve has to offer.

Traditionally, Algarve wine was enjoyed by many. In fact, Lagoa used to produce four million litres of wine which were supplied to the military who fought in the former Portuguese colonies in Africa. But in the 1970s, tourism hit the Algarve and a lot of the vineyards were converted for other uses such as golf courses and holiday resorts, which meant that they experienced almost total abandonment.

Now, the Algarve Wine Commission (CVA) states that “two years ago, a milestone in production growth was reached, when the barrier of one million bottles was crossed”. Yet, Algarve wines are still being ignored by restaurants and supermarkets, with the focus being on other regions such as the popular Alentejo, Dão and Douro wines.

Carsten Bang Jensen, founder of Wine Lovers Algarve, aims to change that.

Carsten moved to Portugal last year and has always been a wine lover. He was surprised to discover that when asking in restaurants and supermarkets across the Algarve for a ‘local’ wine, he was swayed towards those from other regions. This encouraged him to start exploring, researching and visiting the local vineyards.

As he started exploring, it became apparent that many people had no idea as to how many wines and vineyards there are just around the corner. He discovered many “interesting wines” and “new pioneers that have poured their passion and hard work into making the Algarve a leading wine region again”.

Some of the issues he found was that a lot of vineyards hardly marketed themselves at all. And a lot of wines from Algarve vineyards can only be purchased directly from the vineyard as opposed to using a distributor or selling in supermarkets. However, this is not the case for all vineyards.

In October last year, with the help of Sara Silva (President of CVA), Carsten reached out to the wineries with his initiative and invited them to participate. Naturally, they were thrilled to hear of another way to introduce their products to more people. One vineyard said: “I believe it is a great initiative, especially during this current period when people are not able to travel so much.”

In December, just before Christmas, Wine Lovers Algarve successfully managed to distribute boxes to their first customers. It costs around €75 each month depending on the wines included. With Wine Lovers Algarve, each wine is always priced the same when purchasing directly from the vineyard.

Inside the package are six different wines from six different vineyards. Usually, these will be three reds, two whites and one rosé, sparkling or sweet.

In the December package, these wines came from Quinta João Clara (Alcantarilha), Quinta da Tôr (Loulé), Quinta dos Sentidos (Silves), Quinta dos Vales (Lagoa), Quinta do Francês (Silves) and Quinta do Barranco Longo (Algoz). Wine Lovers Algarve also included an extra Christmas gift which was a honey produced by Quinta dos Sentidos who also make olive oil and verjus in the vineyard.

Along with the six bottles, a ‘taste card’ is also included for each wine. This contains information about the wine, the vineyard and how it is made. On the back of the taste card is tasting and pairing advice by local Sommelier Joana Reis who resides in the Avenida Restaurant, Lagos.

Carsten explains the importance of the taste card in his welcoming letter as he “strongly recommends that you read it while drinking the wine to enhance the experience”.

According to Wine Lovers Algarve, there are 34 vineyards who are producing over 250 different wines. Most of these wines are made by artisan hands and use the “old-fashioned ways” as opposed to the large factory-like producers from other regions.

The Algarve’s climate offers a great environment for the vines, being that it is “never too hot, never too cold”, and the Algarve experiences more than “300 days of sunshine a year”.

Today, the Algarve wines are winning silver and gold medals at international wine competitions and getting better reviews from all over the world.

The ‘Wine Cities Contest’ will be hosted in Estômbar, Lagoa, at Quinta dos Vales in March and has “almost 600 wines in the first edition”. It was originally meant to take place in November but was postponed due to the pandemic.

With there being 30-40 vineyards across the Algarve, this means that each vineyard should feature in the package at least twice during 2021.

With the increase in popularity in Algarve wines and competitions such as the Wine Cities Contest, Wine Lovers Algarve hopes they can help “the rebirth of an old tradition”.
Facebook: Wine Lovers Algarve

The delivery box designed by Wine Lovers Algarve
Carsten Bang Jensen, founder of Wine Lovers Algarve
Getting the boxes ready for the first deliveries with the taste cards on top of it