Harding urges Portugal to go native

15th June, 2012 by Gabriel Stone

Julie Harding MW dedicated her 50 Great Portuguese Wine selection to Portugal’s indigenous grapes, warning that the pursuit of international varieties would represent “a downhill slope” for the country.

Julia Harding MW unveils her 50 Great Portuguese Wines

Unveiling her final selection, which was whittled down from 1,200 wines to a range which included 27 reds, 18 whites, one sparkling and four fortified wines, Harding stressed: “I wanted to choose only wines made from Portuguese grape varieties – I wanted to choose Portuguese wines that were really Portuguese.”

While conceding: “There are some great wines made from international varieties,” Harding explained: “I wanted to show what indigenous Portuguese varieties were able to do.”

Admitting to a “soft spot for central Portugal”, Harding flagged up the Dão and Bairrada as two regions in particular which deserve greater recognition in the UK. Highlighting one grape variety common to both of these neighbouring DOCs, she argued: “Baga can make some great wines.”

As a sign of the ongoing threat to Portugal’s indigenous varieties from more internationally renowned grapes, one of the wines in the selection, Dulcineia dos Santos Ferreira 2005 from Vinhos Sidonio de Sousa, was the last vintage to be produced after the old vine Baga was pulled up in favour of Merlot.

Turning to the country’s white wines, Harding observed: “I’m so glad I managed to include so many,” highlighting in particular the Vinho Verde Vales de Ambrães, Avesso 2011, a wine not currently imported to the UK.

“What I really wanted to show was the Avesso,” Harding remarked, explaining that for the better known Vinho Verde and the Douro regions in particular, she was keen to include a number of wines which “show the diversity within a region instead of the stereotype people have.”

This was a point echoed by Raymond Reynolds, chairman of Portuguese specialist importer Raymond Reynolds Ltd, whose wines made up 10 of the 50 in Harding’s final selection. “Loureiro is still undervalued,” he insisted; “it’s not Vinho Verde in that classical style.”

Likewise Reynolds supported Harding’s view that the Dão is especially worthy of greater attention. “There’s still a lot to be explored,” he remarked, describing the current UK selection as “a tiny tip of the iceberg.”

The 50 Great Portuguese Wines will be available for the trade to taste in Edinburgh on 20 June and Manchester on 21 June.

2 Responses to “Harding urges Portugal to go native”

  1. John Radford says:

    Absolutely agree, and the same goes for Spain, Italy and Greece: all the Mediterranean countries have unique varieties which can really showcase the individuality of their various regions. The trouble is that the big corporations which control so much of the industry can’t be bothered to invest time and money in developing unusual varieties when they know that they’re ‘safe’ with such as Chardonnay and the ubiquitous Cabernet-Sauvignon.

  2. Alan Mayne says:

    Well done Julia,
    Yes it is a shame that some Portuguese wine producers are moving away from indigenous grape varieties. This will lose the very character of Portuguese wines. I have noticed this more and more on my visits to Portugal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Staff Writer – The Drinks Business

The Drinks Business
London, UK

On-Trade Regional Sales Manager

Anthony Byrne Fine Wines
London and the South East, UK

Commercial Director

The Drinks Business Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Key Accounts Manager - Impulse Channel

Australian Vintage Limited
Croydon, Greater London, United Kingdom, UK

Sales Support Assistant

H2Vin Ltd
London, UK

Sales Administrator

Les Caves de Pyrène
Guildford, Surrey

Sales Order Processor

Amathus Drinks
Park Royal, London NW10, UK

Sales Executive (London – Craft Spirits)

Bimber Distillery
London, UK

Events & PR Co-ordinator

Alliance Wine
London, UK

Partner Development Manager - That Boutique-y Gin Company

That Boutique-y Gin Company
Field Based, UK

Head of Merchant Sales

Grapevine the Wineservice Company
Cumbria, UK

Business Development Manager – Central London

Marussia Beverages UK Ltd
Field based – London, UK

Account Manager – Premium Restaurants, London

Kingfisher Beer Europe Ltd
London (Central), UK

Field Sales Representative - Beer Innovation

Elastic
Various locations, UK

Events Executive

The Drinks Business
London, UK

The Global Beer Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st August 2017

Champagne Masters 2017

Deadline : 4th August 2017

Global Chardonnay Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th August 2017

The Global Riesling Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th August 2017

Click to view more

The Global Organic Masters 2017

The drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Organic Masters

The Drinks Business Awards 2017

Now in its 15th year, the db awards have become the most authoritative, internationally respected badge of achievement in the alcoholic drinks industry.

The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters 2017

the drinks business Hong Kong announces its first year of The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters.

Rioja Masters 2016

Now in its fifth year, the competition will recognise and reward the finest Riojas on the world stage.

Click to view more