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Porto hosts two international wine events in one week

Oenotourism featured this week in Porto in northern Portugal, with the opening of two of the country’s annual wine events – Essência do Vinho and Simplesmente Vinho – writes Stephen Quinn.

Portugal’s economy minister Manuel Caldeira Cabral

The sixth edition of Simplesmente Vinho, which translates as “simply wine”, took place from 23 to 24 February.

Elsewhere in the city the fourteenth version of Essência do Vinho, “the essence of wine,” ran from 22 to 25 February at the Bolsa Palace. Last year about 20,000 people attended, about a third of them from overseas. The event is run as a partnership with the Porto Commercial Association, with the support of the Porto City Council.

A day ticket for Essência do Vinho was 20 Euro and a ticket for Simplesmente Vinho cost 18 Euro. Both are major events on the Portuguese wine calendar and bring business to the city of Porto.

Joao Roseira, winemaker at Quinta do Infantado in the Douro region, organised Simplesmente Vinho. He said the focus was on wines that respected the land, the people and their traditions. “It is wine without make-up that simply wants to be wine, to be drunk and shared. Different wines with a healthy dose of madness and poetry.”

A total of 101 estates presented their wares at Porto’s Museum of Wine in a former port storage cellar known as a “lodge” on the banks of the Douro River. All estates were from Portugal and Spain, apart from one from France.

Many of the wines came from organic or biodynamic vineyards. Others described themselves as making natural and “orange” wines. These terms relate to wines that receive minimal intervention in the winery and use mostly indigenous grapes.

Portugal’s economy minister Manuel Caldeira Cabral was a visitor at Simplesmente Vinho. In an interview he emphasised the need for sustainable tourism after rapid increases in recent years. Tourism is reported to have trebled in the past three years. Portugal’s economy has rebounded at the same time.

Cabral said exports, currently up about 11% compared with last year, were boosting the economy. The main exports were machinery, technology, cars and aeronautics and they were successful because clients recognised the quality of those products. Wine exports were also increasing at about the same percentage, Cabral said.

Tiago Barbosa runs Lagar.Fr, a large wine shop in central Paris that specialises in Portuguese wines. “The French love natural wine from Portugal,” he said.

A French app developer, Jean-Hugues Bretin, released a new version of an app that tracks natural wine around the world at Simplesmente Vinho. It is called Raisin, the French word for grape.

Bretin said that as of February 23 Raisin had been downloaded 50,000 times, with about 100 a day being added to the total. About three in five of those downloads occur in France, an indication of the interest in natural wine in that country.

Editor’s note: Stephen Quinn was a guest of ViniPortugal, who supplied his travel and accommodation to attend Simplesmente Vinho.

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