The Buyer
Portugal’s UK success shines in London Wine Competition

Portugal’s UK success shines in London Wine Competition

There was a big increase in entries from all over the world in the 2021 London Wine Competition from both the classic, established wine producing countries, as well as the less celebrated. Wherever they came from they were all judged in the same way. The quality of the wine, how they tasted, their value for money and what they looked like. Here we shine the light on Portugal which was one of the most successful countries in the 2021 awards with its medal success reflecting a boom in sales in the UK.

Richard Siddle
22nd April 2021by Richard Siddle
posted in Awards,

You can find out all the results from different wine producing countries in the 2021 London Wine Competition here.

The idyllic backdrop of Porto which for many is in the heart of the Portuguese wine industry

Portugal is famous for producing wines that you simply cannot find anywhere else in the world thanks to the large number of indigenous varieties that are only found in its vineyards – an estimated 250 unique varieties. So if you pick up a bottle of Portuguese wine and don’t recognise the grape variety on it then that’s the way it should be.

It has, though, made it more of a challenge for Portuguese producers to push and promote these indigenous varieties in their key export markets. After all it has hard enough convincing a consumer to pick up a bottle of Shiraz, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc never mind getting them to understand what they are getting if they buy a bottle of Alvarelhão, Espadeiro or Padeiro – although in fairness most indigenous varieties are used in blends rather than as single variety wines in their own right.

Sónia Vieira, Wines of Portugal’s marketing director, says the country has enjoyed a big boost in sales in the UK

“Portugal is a country of blends, so we will never have one flagship grape. Instead we need to sell our regions more, and explain the diversity and range of wines available in 14 different regions that we have to show,” is how Sónia Vieira, marketing director of Wines of Portugal, explained its export strategy to The Buyer last year.

What Portugal does have in its favour is a climate that allows it to make a wide variety of wines across its many wine regions, from the zingy, zesty wines in the cool climate of Vinho Verde, to wines that would put hairs on your chest in Dao.

Portugal is increasingly turning the heads of UK’s wine buyers as it can provide a wide selection of good volume wines at all the key price points across the on and off-trades.

In the last sales of Portuguese wines at Marks & Spencer are up 30%, 27% at Waitrose and 23% at Sainsbury’s. Berkmann Wine Cellars says it sold 48,000 bottles in 2020.

UK consumers are starting to discover a wider range of regions like here in Alentejo

Overall UK sales were up 22% in 2019 which has helped make it the third biggest export market after France and the US. Portugal is ninth in the Top 10 largest wine exporting countries in the world (IVV) and has a target of reaching €1bn in export sales by 2023, up from €803m in 2018.

It’s a country that can, therefore, more than hold its own in international wine competitions as it has wines that are increasingly accessible, easy on the palate, with great fruit and most importantly bright acidity that often shines through in freshness, fruit forward styles. It can also do its fair share of moody, brooding Mourinho-style wines that take a bit longer to get used to, but are equally award winning in their style.

As Vieira explains to The Buyer: “Producers are far more interested in using our many indigenous grapes and that is proving to be a real asset as it means we can create wines that have an international style, but are also increasingly more popular with those consumers who are looking for something different and to try new experiences. This is clear when looking at what successes we are having in sales all over the world.”

Strong performance

All styles of Portuguese wines were on show at the London Wine Competition 2021 with the country being one of the best performing in the world with a total of 9 Gold medals awarded. Here are the best performing wines entered into this year’s competiton.

Highest Scoring Portuguese Wine

94 Points

Quinta do Gradil 1492, Vintage 2019

Tiago Correia, winemaker of Quinta do Gradil, and Luís Vieira, its manager at Parras Wines

Producer Name: Parras Wines

Category: Still Wines (Vintage / Non-Vintage)

Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Azal Espanhol, Preto de Mortágua, Tannat

Judges tasting notes:

Christopher Delalonde MS Head of Wines at The Dorchester Hotel: “Ripe, concentrated nose: dark fruit and berries, cooked blue fruit, floral notes and spices. Deep and extracted. Fleshy with a sweet tone and ripe fruit, spices on the mid palate. Weighty and rich with good drive but grippy – youthful tannins. Good finish on ripe dark fruit and heat. Time to age and will need to be decanted.

Dario Barbato, head sommelier and wine buyer at Individual Restaurants Group: “Deep ruby. Black fruit, violet spicy, black pepper, oak, smoky, cocoa, chocolate. This full body wine is well made and has complexity and structure to age in bottle for longer.”

Other top Portuguese wines

93 points

Mina Velha Reserva, 2019

Producer: Multiwines Lda

Category: Still Wines (Vintage / Non-Vintage)

Varietal: Touriga Nacional, Azal Espanhol, Preto de Mortágua

92 points

Mula Velha Reserva, 2019

Producer: Parras Wines

Category: Still Wines (Vintage, Non-Vintage)

Varietal: Touriga Nacional, Azal Espanhol, Preto de Mortágua, Shiraz, Syrah, Tinta Roriz

91 points

Qss Rare Red Wine, 2020

Producer: Multiwines Lda

Category: Still Wines (Vintage, Non-Vintage)

Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Azal Espanhol, Preto de Mortágua, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Syrah

91 points

Evidência Reserva, 2019

Producer: Parras Wines

Category: Still Wines (Vintage, Non-Vintage)

Varietal: Encruzado

90 points

Casa Santos Lima performed well in London Wine Competition

Stones & Bones, Red 2019

Producer: Casa Santos Lima, Companhia das Vinhas S.A.

Category: Red Still Wines (Vintage, Non-Vintage)

Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Azal Espanhol, Preto de Mortágua

90 points

LB7 Reserva, Red 2019

Producer: Casa Santos Lima, Companhia das Vinhas S.A.

Category: Red Still Wines (Vintage, Non-Vintage)

Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Azal Espanhol, Preto de Mortágua, Shiraz, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet

90 points

Alto Pina Reserve, 2019

Producer: Cooperativa agricola Sto. Isido de Pegões, CRL

Category: White Still Wines (Vintage, Non-Vintage)

Varietals: Fernao Pires, Fernão Pires, Verdelho, Gouveio,Verdello, Antao Vaz

90 points

Adega de Pegões Moscatel DO Setúbal

Producer: Cooperativa Agricola Sto. Isido de Pegões, CRL

Vintage: Non-Vintage

Category: Fortified Wines

Varietal: Moscatel de Alejandria

  • To find out all the other winners and results in the 2021 London Wine Competition click here.