Portugal’s wine export market recovering.jpg

Portugal’s wine export market recovering

By CHRIS GRAEME [email protected]

Portugal could enjoy its best year in terms of wine exports since 2000 if the first six months of the year are anything to go by.

Sales notched up from January to the end of June were worth 70 per cent of last year’s total sales, chalking up 184 million euros. Portuguese wines are gaining something of a reputation among Europe’s rich and famous, with a bottle of rare Quinta de Monte d’Oiro easily fetching in excess of UShttp://www.00 in some New York restaurants.

Last week, Princess Victoria of Sweden downed a glass or two of Periquita Reserva 2005 at a gala dinner which commended scores of European businesswomen.

The wine, from the vineyards of José Maria da Fonseca, was enjoyed by more than 400 guests at the dinner in Stockholm at the famous hall where the Nobel Prizes are awarded.

But the Portuguese wine sector’s success abroad is not just confined to Sweden and the United States.

Figures for the first half of this year show a trend that, if maintained, could spell the best year for Portuguese wine producers since the millennium.

In the first half of the year, the market managed to rake in 183,543 million euros, 70 per cent of the total attained in 2008, while in terms of volume of hectolitres, sales meant a 45 per cent weekly increase at seven per cent to 1.212,399 hectolitres. The price per litre exported soared by an average of 36 per cent.

Exports to the United States, considered one of the priority markets for Portugal by wine guru Michael Porter, reached 15.6 million euros in the first half of 2009, almost as much as the 17 million achieved in the whole of 2008.

“With less purchasing power because of the economic crisis, Americans are looking at other wines, which are more reasonably priced yet still maintain an exceptional quality,” says Francisco Ferreira, CEO of Sogrape Vinhos which owns prestigious brands like Mateus Rosé and Gazela.

“All the signs show that we could enjoy our best year in terms of exports if we continue selling at a competitive price,” agrees Afonso Correia, President of the Portuguese Wine Institute.

But it’s not just Europe and the United States that are attracted by Portuguese wines.

Angola remains one of the largest markets with 334,911 hectolitres sold, worth 36 million euros, an increase of 84 per cent on the first half of 2008, and a strategic market for wines such as Esporão and its Monte Velho brand.

Germany, too, has seen an increase of Portuguese wine exports by 40 per cent, as have countries like Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands.

However, despite the crisis, the United Kingdom still remains the largest market for Portugal’s biggest exporter Sogrape thanks to the British predilection for Mateus Rosé.