At this year’s competition 50 Great Portuguese Wines, one region stood out as particularly successful: no fewer than nine of the winning wines were produced in the up-and-coming Alentejo region! This time, the 50 top wines of the country were selected by a prominent jury – and for the first time, the list of winners was compiled by three Master Sommeliers from the USA.
Alongside Peter Granoff – who has been active in the wine business for thirty years and has been chosen as Sommelier of the Year by the James Beard Foundation – the three-member jury was filled out by Dennis Kelly, chief sommelier of Thomas Keller’s California restaurant The French Laundry, and Madeline Triffon, wine’s grand dame of Detroit and one of the two first female Master Sommeliers.
Ten various wine regions, among them the Douro Valley and the Dão, made it into the Top 50 listing. Remarkable, though, is the performance of the Alentejo, in that nine wines from this up-and-coming region were chosen among the fifty best in all of Portugal.
In the white wine department, the impressive Terrenus 2013 from Rui Reguinga made the list, as did the Monte da Ravasqueira Branco 2014 from the eponymous estate.
Red wines selected reached back to the 2009 vintage: Roquevale Grande Reserva 2009 led the way, followed by Azamor Selected Vines 2010 (Azamor Wines), Adega de Borba Reserva and Comendador (Adega Mayor), both from 2011. The Alentejo’s triumphal parade continued with Cortes de Cima 2012 and Art Terra 2014 from Herdade São Miguel (Casa Agricola Alexandre Relvas), plus Pera Doce Premium 2014 (Herdade da Candeeira).
The demand for Portuguese wines continues to grow in the US market. Just in the year 2015, import figures showed an increase of some 16%. Nuno Vale, marketing director at Wines of Portugal, is excited about this development: ‘We feel very enthusiastic about the fact that Portuguese wines are attracting so much attention in the United States, and above all among the younger consumers.’
First and foremost, the 50 Great Portuguese Wines should awake enthusiasm and interest on the part of new retailers and at the same time inspire current stockists – while at the same time giving all winelovers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the exciting world of Portuguese wine.
CVRA – The Comissão Vitivinícola Regional Alentejana (CVRA) – Alentejo Regional Winegrowing Commission – was founded in 1989 as a private institution dedicated to certifying, controlling and protecting the Alentejo PDO and Alentejano PGI wines. It is also responsible for promoting the Alentejo wines both domestically and in select international markets. Funding for the CVRA comes from the sale of certification seals to be placed on the back label of Alentejo bottles to guarantee the origin of the wine.