Smith: Portugal needs to raise its wine prices

In order for Portugal to be taken seriously as a fine wine country it needs to raise the price of its dry red wines according to Tony Smith of Quinta da Boavista.

Tony Smith of Quinta da Boavista

Speaking to the drinks business during a recent visit to the Douro Valley, Smith said: ”We need to raise the price of our wines and sell them at the higher end of the market.

“Portugal’s brand image in the UK has suffered from Tesco-isation and the image formed about our wines from mass-market retail.

“We’re seen as cheap and cheerful by British wine columnists, but there’s a lot more to us and we can’t build a successful high-end brand image on that basis.

“Moving forward communication is key – we need to bring people here to see our amazing vineyards and taste our wines in order to move away from that cheep and cheerful reputation. They are the preserve of the enlightened few at the moment and we need to spread the word about why the wines are so good.”

Quinta da Boavista is surrounded by stunning terraced vineyards

Smith’s Boavista Reserva is confidently priced at €50 a bottle, but he believes it’s “cheap in comparison to a Napa Cabernet”.

“There’s nothing wrong with being cheap and cheerful but there’s more to these wines. Given the inaccessibility of our terraces and the steepness of our vineyards, the Douro is not an easy place to make wine.

“The vines are low yielding and we use a horse to plough some of our plots, all of this costs money,” said Smith, who before entering the wine world was a foreign correspondent for Condé Nast.

Having been lucky enough to snap up historic 80-hectare Port house Quinta da Boavista with his Brazilian business partner Marcelo Lima in 2013, the pair have turned the property around from being predominantly a Port producer to focusing on dry Douro reds and whites.

“The Douro is hot and sexy right now and we’re surfing the wave. Port is super costly to make but historically producers have been obliged to make it.

“We now produce more table wine than Port. No one should doubt the quality of dry Douro wines. The whites are a very new thing and are getting a lot of recognition,” Smith told db.

“People are interested in the old vine tradition – no one can take our pedigree away even if we are the new kids on the block.

“With players like Do Crasto and the Douro Boys, dry Douro wines have great brand equity now and we’re seeing the wines succeed overseas. We export 60% of what we make, which is unusually high for Portugal,” he added.

Smith and Lima also own Quinta de Covela in Vinho Verde and Quinta das Tecedeiras in the Douro.

2 Responses to “Smith: Portugal needs to raise its wine prices”

  1. Bear Dalton says:

    Speaking only of the Texas market, Dry Douro Red is more of rounding error than a category. The wine trade (suppliers and wholesalers) is all over it but the final (retail) customer (consumer) is hard to identify and ultimately indifferent. NO ONE is walking into our stores saying “I’m looking for a nice $50 or higher Dry Douro Red.” For the most part, the flavor profile is unfamiliar and doesn’t readily appeal to either our Bordeaux customer or our California Cab customer. There is ample supply side push but little to no market pull, especially at higher price points. I think most of these producers would be better served using those grapes for Colheita Ports (of which we can’t get enough).

  2. Bob Rossi says:

    “Smith’s Boavista Reserva is confidently priced at €50 a bottle, but he believes it’s “cheap in comparison to a Napa Cabernet”.” Pretty much every wine is cheap in comparison to a Napa Cabernet. That doesn’t mean it should be priced that high, or that it will sell.

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