The next few columns with be shorter than usual because Sue and I are Portugal. I will be speaking at the 10th Alentejo Vine and Wine Symposium in Évora next week.
We are in Porto today and it is great to be back. I was here in 2014 to speak at a symposium sponsored by ACIBEV. I had a great time (look for a “Flashback Friday” about that visit) and made many friends.
I had a number of striking experiences during my 2014 visit, but one really stands out. I met with a senior executive of one of the major wine producers and he wanted to know what Portugal could do to get more respect in the world of wine — and especially in Portugal.
Portugal has great history, great terroir, great wines — but that greatness isn’t always recognized, he said. He was especially dismayed that Portuguese wine was not better respected within the country. Wine is a strong economic sector in Portugal and an effective ambassador for the country abroad. How do other famous regions get the respect that we lack? What can we do to change this situation?
I did not have answers that day, but it got me thinking (which was the idea, I believe). My investigations turned into a lecture that I have given several times on the subject “Secrets of the World’s Most Respected Wine Regions.”
I don’t want to give away the secrets here, but I can tell you that just a few months after the meeting in Porto the missing respect started to show up, at least on the international stage.
Portugal has received lots of great press in the last two years and the wines have earned a growing share of critical and commercial success. As the image up top indicates, three of Wine Spectator’s top four wines of 2014 were from Portugal. And, as the second image shows, Portuguese wines are winners in the U.S. market. If this isn’t a sign of respect, I don’t know what is.
How about at home in Portugal? Does the Portuguese wine industry get the respect (and favorable government policy treatment) it deserves here? I will have to learn more before answering that.
In the meantime, there is much to discuss about Portugal’s wine industry because the market is evolving. Come back next week for a follow-up column that analyzes Portugal’s shifting wine export environment is more detail.
Speaking of respect …