vinhos algarve.jpg

The new Algarve wine guide

Five years after the first edition was published, the Algarve Tourism Board has launched its up-to-date wine guide to the region. The Algarve is an up-and-coming wine-producing region and, according to Hermínio Rebelo, author of the guide and head of the Chamber of Tasters for the Algarve Wine Committee, the region is set to be the most sought-after terroir in Portugal. Its unique characteristics – variety of soils, Mediterranean climate, humidity from the Atlantic, south-facing exposure and protection from the northern winds, thanks to the Monchique mountains – give the Algarve the ideal conditions to produce top-quality wines.
So why, with such fantastic conditions, has the Algarve only now started to make its mark on the wine map of the world?
“It was simply due to lack of knowledge and organisation,” explains Hermínio Rebelo. “The local farmers didn’t know how good the soils were and lacked the techniques required to successfully produce wine.”
For many years, the Adegas Cooperativas (Cooperative Wineries), to which local grape producers would sell their grapes, were the only wine producers in the region. All of this changed in 1999 when João O’Neill Mendes, the first independent producer in the region, established his winery, Quinta do Morgado da Torre, in the Portimão area.
Since then, wine production has developed and its techniques have modernised, creating a boom in the Algarve’s wine production. Today there are 24 producers in the Algarve, spreading from Lagos to Tavira, with vines growing on a variety of soils: lithic, red clay, sand, limestone and Silves sandstone.
They produce an array of both Portuguese and international grapes, such as Arinto, Chardonnay, Fernão Pires, Malvasia Fina and Sauvignon for whites, and Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Trincadeira, Petit Verdot and Touriga Nacional for the reds, to name just a few.
The new Algarve wine guide reaffirms the established wineries and introduces the new players who are looking to make a mark on the region, the country and eventually beyond its borders.

Algarve Wine Regions

The Algarve is divided into four DOP regions (Denominação de Origem Protegida, or Designation of Protected Origin): Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Tavira.
Lagos has six producers, spread from Barão de São João to Odiáxere. There is the Herdade do Soromenho, which won a silver medal for its DOP Lagos Reserva Tinto; Quinta dos Lopes, which produces organic wine; and Monte da Casteleja, which has an excellent red, Maria Selection Tinto.
The new players in Lagos are Quinta da Horta Nova, which only produces reds; Monte do Além, which makes a delicious red, Monte do Além Petit Verdot Tinto; and Quinta do Eucalipto, which is also known for breeding Lusitano horses.
Portimão boasts three excellent well-established wineries, the Herdade do Morgado da Torre, which produces Alcalar, the only Algarve wine to be made with foot-trodden grapes; Herdade dos Pimenteis, where you will find the excellent Herdade dos Pimenteis Reserva Tinto; and Quinta da Penina, well known for its Foral de Portimão Petit Verdot Tinto.
Lagoa has some excellent wineries, such as Quinta dos Vales, in Estombar, where renowned winemakers Paulo Laureano and Dorina Lindemann guarantee excellent wines that have garnered more national and international awards than any other producer in the region.
There is also Quinta do Francês, perched on the hills of the Odelouca river valley, making some of the Algarve’s best reds, and Quinta do Barranco Longo, whose Remexido red and white are particularly good.
Well known for being Cliff Richard’s winery is the Quinta do Moinho (former Adega do Cantor), which benefits from David Baverstock’s world-class experience. Lagoa also boasts the only remaining active Adega Cooperativa, Única.
New producers have appeared in the Lagoa region, including Monte dos Salicos, producing two reds; Quinta de Mata-Mouros which joined forces with Herdade da Malhadinha Nova (Alentejo) in 2012; Quinta das Barradas, which also has a restaurant where you can taste the locally produced wines; Quinta Rosa run by Dutchman Jaap Honekamp; and Quinta da Malaca, a family-run vineyard producing excellent reds and rosés.
Quinta Velha is where Helwig Ehlers and his wife turned what had started as a hobby into a serious business. Quinta do Outeiro started a new project in 2007 to create the new Paxá label, while Quinta da Vinha aims to produce quality wines at a fair price. Quinta João Clara, located in Alcantarilha, works with winemaker António Maçanita, famous for his Fita Preta Alentejo wines.
Tavira only has one producer, Quinta dos Correias, which has been around for centuries but recently planted new vines and modernised its techniques. Being the only producer in this DOP region, it is sought after but not only for its exclusivity – it also produces excellent quality wine.
With so much development and increasing competition, the future is bright for Algarve wine. Hermínio Rebelo predicts an increase in production, with thousands more hectares of vines. It’s a very promising land, indeed.
Most of the wineries organise tours and wine tasting, if you book in advance. Download your copy of the guide from the Turismo do Algarve website:
By Alexandra Stilwell