Wines of the world at Apolónia

By Patrick Stuart

Earlier this week, I was invited to join a small group of Apolónia staff and management for a wine tasting in the inner sanctum of their Almancil supermarket where I met wine expert Claire Townsend who had flown over especially from the UK.

The tasting was organised by Prime Wines Algarve, one of the many wine distributors who are working with Apolónia to realise the management’s objective of stocking the largest wine selection of any retail space in Portugal.

They currently sit in second place behind only Garrafeira Nacional, a veritable wine institution in Lisbon, and the aim is to build on their current collection of over 1,600 labels and reach 2,000 in the not-too-distant future.

With the supermarket’s annual wine festival now in full swing, it was the perfect time for Claire Townsend, sales manager Europe for Bibendum, Britain’s largest privately owned wine distributor, to visit. Bibendum exports wines via the UK that they import from around the world and Claire covers

all of continental Europe and the Middle East for the company.

With intimate knowledge of the wines and the producers, she talks with a huge amount of passion and expertise, which was shared with the floor staff from the wine departments of the Galé and Almancil supermarkets.

We sampled some great wines from Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and France with expert advice provided by Claire on food pairing tips.

It’s encouraging to see such effort going into the introduction of more foreign wines to the market here in Portugal.