Portuguese wines in the UK: Portugal makes gains in independent wine merchants

June 2024 was a month focusing on Portuguese wines in independent wine merchants. For three few weeks I did a series of Instagram lives with a range of independent wine merchants in the UK who are focusing on Portuguese wines. I tasted a selection of the wines they were offering with them on camera, as part of a program of promotional activity with Wines of Portugal (conflict of interest declaration: I was paid to do these lives). These are my notes on those wines, and they reveal some of the depth of the Portuguese wine offering here in the UK.

The Good Wine Shop

Website: https://www.thegoodwineshop.co.uk/

Soalheiro Alvarinho Primeiras Vinhas 2022 Vinho Verde, Portugal
13% alcohol. From Monçao and Melgaço. Lovely aromatics with pear and apricot richness as well as crisp grapefruit and lemon. In the mouth this has nice texture with lovely ripe citrus and apricot fruit as well as some chalky undertones, a little stony minerality, and then some lemony brightness. Very appealing, showing off the quality that Alvarinho can reach here. 92/100 (£28.25)

Rola Branco 2022 Douro, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. Here Ana Rolo has blended together 50% Viosinho, 20% Rabigato, 20% Gouveio, and 10% other varieties. It’s a fresh, fruit-driven white with sophisticated green apple, pear and lime fruit, showing nice acidity but also some good texture. Harmonious and quite sophisticated with no obvious oak, this is a really good expression of this region. 92/100 (£17.25)

Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Tinto 20201 Bairrada, Portugal
13% alcohol. This is varietal Baga from one of the stars of Bairrada. Vivid cherry red in colour, this has floral cherry fruits with some spicy strawberry and a hint of chalkiness on the nose. In the mouth it is supple, fresh and stony with nice brightness but also well managed tannins, a touch of savoury detail and a mellow character: it’s Baga tamed, and rather well. Should age, but it’s delicious now. 93/100 (£29)

Cabriz Edição Especial 2017 Dão, Portugal
14% alcohol. This is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Aragonez and Alfrocheiro. Supple, open and quite mellow on the nose, this has developed in an interesting way over almost seven years. It has nice fruit, but the tannins have softened, and the result is a smooth, quite elegant red with cherries and plums, and a chalky undercurrent. Drink now to catch this elegant fruit. 92/100 (£22.50)


Website: https://www.luvians.com/

Azevedo Loureiro Alvarinho 2022 Vinho Verde, Portugal
12% alcohol. Owned by Sogrape. This is bright, crisp and delicious, but it offers more than just simple fruit. There’s a nice depth to the palate with a touch of apricot from the Alvarinho and a lemony brightness that reminds me of Riesling, from the Louriero. There’s also some chalky minerality. Midweight and refreshing, and very easy to drink. 90/100 (£11.99)

Quinta dos Carvalhais Reserva Branco 2020 Dão, Portugal
13% alcohol. Owned by Sogrape. Complex, taut and with nice density, this has lovely pear, green apple and lemon fruit with some waxy detail and a bit of pithy structure. It’s a serious expression of white Dão, with nice density and freshness. Lovely depth to this wine. 91/100

Quinta do Portal Tinto Reserva 2019 Douro, Portugal
14.5% alcohol. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca. This has a really nice nose with a hint of cocoa, pepper and tar behind enticing blackcurrant and berry fruits. In the mouth this is lush and rich, with a wall of sweet fruit, but there’s balance to, with some freshness and a fine spiciness on the finish. Lovely rich fruit from a warm summer in the Douro shines through. 92/100

Esporão Monte Velho Tinto 2022 Alentejo, Portugal
13% alcohol. This is great value for money, offering supple, sweet cherry and berry fruit with some floral notes and also a bit of grainy, gritty structure to balance out the lush fruit. Offers a lot of drinkability and pleasure. 90/100 (£11)

Solent Cellar

Website: https://www.thesolentcellar.co.uk/

Esporão Reserva Tinto 2021 Alentejo, Portugal
14% alcohol. Organic. This is a really well balanced red with a core of sweet berry fruits and then some nice structure holding everything in place. It’s ripe and focused at the same time, and is drinking well now, although it will age well for a few years, too. 92/100

Esporão Reserva Branco 2022 Alentejo, Portugal
13.5% alcohol. Organic. Beautifully aromatic with honeyed peach and pear fruit on the nose as well as a touch of spice. The palate is beautifully textured with smoothness and finesse, and just enough acidity to hold the rich, ripe, exotic fruit in place. Lovely stuff. 93/100 (£17.99)

Este Alvarinho Reserva 2022 Vinho Verde, Portugal
13% alcohol. Fresh, supple and delicious with bright pear and citrus fruit, showing some broad chalky texture and nice acidity on the finish. It’s mid-weight and well balanced with a nice orange peel juiciness and detail on the finish. 90/100 (£15.99)

Nana Reserva Tinto 2018 Tejo, Portugal
14% alcohol. Bold, rich and warm on the nose with sweet vanilla oak, some ripe herbal hints and sweet berry fruits. It’s really enticing and exotic. The palate shows some complexity from ageing with warm spices, creamy texture and mellow plum and blackberry fruit. A ringer for a Rioja Gran Reserva. 91/100 (£17.99)


Website: https://givino.co.uk/

Portal Colheita 2020 Douro, Portugal
14% alcohol. A blend of equal parts Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca from mid-slope vineyards in the Pinhão Valley. Sweetly aromatic with spice-laden cherry and berry fruits on the nose. The palate is smooth and ripe with warm cherry and blackberry fruit with well managed tannins and a touch of oak. Ripe, sleek and quite refined, this is a stylish Douro red. 92/100 (£20.95)

Vidigal Wines Julia Florista Tinto 2021 Lisboa, Portugal
13% alcohol. Sweet, spicy aromatics with some green herbs as well as vivid berry fruits, with a slight savoury twist. The palate is bright and fruity with some nice green notes, as well as some sweet cherry and berry fruits, finishing with some appealing sweetness alongside a counter of sour cherry. 88/100 (£11.59)

Invincible Vinho Tinto 2021 Douro, Portugal
13.5% alcohol. A field blend from 40 year old vines. This is fresh, focused and refined with sweet blackberry and cherry fruit as well as a lovely smooth structure and well integrated grainy tannins. This has freshness, sweet fruit, and some hints of olive and wild herbs, and is a beautiful Douro red. 94/100 (£16.45)

Quinta da Pedra Alta Pedra a Pedra Tinto 2020 Douro, Portugal
14% alcohol. 54% Touriga Nacional, 34% Tinta Barroca, 11% Touriga Franca, 4% Sousão. Fresh and floral on the nose with some fine green hints as well as some wood spice hints, with ripe berry fruits. In the mouth this has a sense of freshness, with spicy berry and cherry fruit and some sweet herbal hints. A lovely, balanced expression of the Douro, showing nice weight and drinkability. 92/100 (£16)

Liquorice Wine & Deli

Website: https://www.liquoricewine.co.uk/

Leme Louriero Alvarinho 2022 Vinho Verde, Portugal
12% alcohol. 70% Loureiro, 30% Alvarinho. Great concentration of bright citrus fruit here with a slight wet stone character under the lemon and mandarin fruit, with nice acidity. It’s juicy and fine with nice refinement. 92/100 (£15.49)

Adega de Pegões Colheita Seleccionada ‘Selected Harvest’ 2022 Sétubal, Portugal
13% alcohol. A blend of Arinto, Verdelho, Chardonnay and Antão Vaz.  Atrractive and well balanced this shows nice pear and citrus fruit with some white peach richness and a beautiful fresh lemony finish. There’s generosity here but also great balance, and it drinks beautifully. 92/100

Qunita da Romeria Bruto 2021 Bucelas, Portugal
12% alcohol. Fresh, bright and linear with juicy pear and citrus fruit. This has lots of energy with nice precision and focus, showing beautiful lemony brightness and a hint of pithiness on the finish. Very pure and fine with good energy. 91/100

Quinta dos Carvalhais Reserva 2020 Dão, Portugal
13.5% alcohol. So floral and refined with sweet aromatics of cherries, raspberries and a twist of woodspice, leading to a smooth, ripe palate of lush berry fruits with some dried herbs and well integrated oak (there’s a decent chunk of this in the mix). This is really sophisticated with nice weight and balance, and has the potential for mid-term ageing. 92/100

Added Ingredients

Website: https://www.addedingredients.co.uk/

Aveleda Loureiro 2022 Vinho Verde, Portugal
12% alcohol. Enticing nose is stony and lemony with a sense of brightness. The palate is fresh and direct with a chalky edge to the bright lemony fruit, as well as a twist of grapefruit pith. Lovely refinement here. 91/100

Esporão Private Selection Branco 2021 Alentejo, Portugal
14% alcohol. Organic. Old Semillon (planted in 1996) on clay/granite soils and aged in 550 litre barrels. Full yellow in colour this is textured and refined with lovely weight. It has pear and peach fruit with some lemon, and although it’s fully ripe it has great freshness and balance, with subtle honeyed, toasty detail. This is really refined, and shows what an interesting grape Semillon can be, even in a warm climate. Interesting to compare this with the Boukenhoutskloof Semillon from Franschhoek in South Africa. 94/100

Esporão Private Selection Tinto 2016 Alentejo, Portugal
14.5% alcohol. Sweetly fruited and showing nice development on the nose, with ripe berries and cherries with a twist of wood spice and herbs. Lush palate, with a concentration of sweet berry fruits, a touch of mint, some vanilla and tar from the oak, and smooth, well-refined tannins. This is a sophisticated oak-aged red that’s drinking really well now. Lots to like here, with nice depth and intensity. 93/100

Reserve Wines

Website: https://www.reservewines.co.uk/

Lavradores de Feitoria Tinto 2021 Douro
12.5% alcohol. From a partnership of 18 wine growers, this is a lovely supple Douro red showing off what this region can do. It’s beautifully perfumed with floral black cherries and a twist of wild strawberry, yielding to a palate with supple berry fruits and a nice spicy, savoury edge. Lots of balance here, and the stuffing to age nicely. A great example of modern Douro table wines. 93/100 (£14.50)

Quinta das Maias Tinto 2021 Dão, Portugal
13% alcohol. Organic. Jaen and Touriga Nacional from vineyards at 600 m in the foothills of the Serra d’Estrela. This is fine, fresh and supple with nice acidity supporting the cherry and raspberry fruit, together with a slight spicy wildness and a twist of orange peel. Elegant in style but not lacking flavour, with some structure suggesting ageing potential. Great value for money. 93/100 (£14.50)

Quinta de Raza Pet Nat Rose 2023 Vinho Verde, Portugal
Full pink in colour, this is a cloudy, undisgorged Pet Nat, but it’s pure and it doesn’t gush. Lovely fresh, pure notes of cherry and pear with mandarin exoticism, and then a lovely weight on the palate. There’s some rounded texture with lovely fruit, and it then finishes with a slight bitter and sour note that adds a sense of refreshment after the depth on the mid-palate. A lovely example of Pet Nat done really well. 91/100

Quinta do Vale Meão Meandro 2021 Douro
14% alcohol. Wonderful aromatics of sweet raspberries with some black cherry and blackberry fruit, as well as a twist of liquorice and cured meat. In the mouth this has lovely lush dark fruits, but also nice acidity and some tannic structure adding a foil to the ripe fruit. A really sophisticated Douro red, focusing on ripe black fruits but also with some seriousness. 93/100 (£24.50)

Direct Wine Shipments

Website: https://www.directwineshipments.com/

Anselmo Mendes Muros Antigos Alvarinho 2022 Monçao e Melgaço, Vinho Verde, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. This is a really nice example of Alvarinho made in a more serious style, offering textured pear and apricot fruit as well as some keen lemony brightness. It’s juicy with a touch of grapefruit pith, but also has some ripe yellow fruit character, finishing with more grapefruit pithiness. Stylish stuff that could age well. 92/100

Vidigal Porta 6 Vinho Verde 2022 Portugal
9.5% alcohol. This is all about fun. It’s light, low in alcohol and spritzy, with bright, fresh lemon and pear fruit, showing some pithy bitterness, high acidity and freshness from the bubbles. Massive drinkability here, with a wet stone quality on the palate that adds a savoury twist. 85/100

Adega Boas Quintas Morgado de Bucelas 2021 Bucelas, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. Arinto from limestone soils. Good concentration of fruit here, with a juiciness and brightness to the lemony fruit, and a subtle mineral twist. There’s a touch of pear and grape richness on the mid-palate, but this is all about the bright, linear, refreshing quality of Arinto, and it works really well. The limestone gives it a particular focus in the mouth. 91/100

Segur Estates Quinta da Esperanca 2021 Alentejo
14% alcohol. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira and Alicante Bouschet. This has lovely aromatics of red cherries and berries with a hint of wood spice and some floral notes. It’s really appealing. In the mouth this shows sweet, lush fruit but with balance and a pleasant savoury, spicy, cedary twist. Very drinkable with a hint of seriousness. 91/100

Lancaster Wine

Website: https://www.lancasterwinecompany.com/

Caves São João Portal dos Cavaleiros Dao Tinto Reserva 2019 Portugal
13% alcohol. This is a varietal Touriga Nacional, and has the São João cork label, that looks very traditional. But this isn’t an old school wine: it’s fresh, floral and aromatic with lovely red and black cherry fruit on the nose. In the mouth there’s some elegance to the ripe fruit, as well as notes of tar and spice. Nice grip here with good structure and a slight savouriness, but the dominant feature is the well proportioned fruit. This is delicious now but it has the stuffing to age. 93/100

Quinta do Crasto Tinto 2020 Douro, Portugal
14.5% alcohol. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and Tinta Barocca. Lovely floral aromatics on the nose, with a twist of liquorice as well as bright cherry and blackberry fruit, and a fine sappy hint. The palate shows nice ripe fruit with some lushness, but also freshness, showing subtle coffee and tar hints in the background but always with the sleek, mineral laced fruit to the fore. Very satisfying. 92/100


Website: https://delicias-uk.com/en/

Casa de Santar Red 2021 Dão, Portugal
13.5% alcohol. 50% Aragonez, 30% Touriga Nacional, 20% Alfrocheiro. An elegant, refined style of Dão red, with a core of sweet cherry and berry fruit hemmed in by some lively spiciness. It’s ripe but there’s a nice balance on the palate, with sweet berry fruits and a tapering, spicy finish. Impressive for the price, too. 92/100

Carm Douro Reserva 2021 Portugal
14% alcohol. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Francisca that spends 18 months in American and French oak. This has explosive aromatics of black cherry, blackberry, olive tapenade and cured meats with a floral quality: it reminds me of a young vintage Port. In the mouth this has lovely fleshy fruit with some tarry notes and a sense of sleekness. It’s ripe but has some spicy, savoury balance. Lots to like about this. 93/100

Aveleda Alvarinho 2022 Vinho Verde, Portugal
12% alcohol. Mostly granite soils with 10% schist. Aged in stainless steel after harvesting at night, gentle pressing and low temperature fermentation. This is fresh and direct with lovely Alvarinho character: some apricot and ripe pear, but also some keen citrus with good acidity. Very bright and energetic but also quite refined, this is a great example of why this variety is so highly thought of. 92/100

Lua Cheia Maria Bonita Rose 2023 Vinho Verde, Portugal
11% alcohol. Varietal Espadeiro fermented at 18 C and aged in stainless steel. Modern packaging and a lovely pale pink colour in the glass. This is fruity and refined with nice bright cherry and citrus fruit, some wet stone minerality, a touch of pear drop and it finishes dry, making it quite gastronomic. Lovely stuff. 89/100

Hedonism Wines

Website: https://hedonism.co.uk/

Sogrape Casa Ferreirinha Quinta da Leda 2020 Douro, Portugal
14% alcohol. 43% Touriga Franca, 37% Touriga Nacional, 11% Tinto Cão, 5% Tinta Roriz, 4% Sousão. Destemmed, then aged in French oak, 50% new. Lovely aromatics: taut and focused with floral red cherries and berries as well as a hint of savoury olive and spice – the oak is completely hidden. The palate is fresh and vivid with nice acidity and firm but well managed tannins behind the sleek, fresh cherry and berry fruits. Has a hint of sour cherry on the finish. This is like a very well managed super-Tuscan in style, with ripe fruit but also freshness and structure. The vintage may well have been challenging in the region, but the size of the estate makes selective blending possible and the result is utterly compelling. This should age effortlessly for many years. 95/100 (£63 Hedonism Wines)

Anselmo Mendes Parcela Única 2021 Monçao & Melgaço, Vinho Verde, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. Single parcel Alvarinho aged in 400 litre barrels. Complex nose of hazelnut, baked bread, apricot and pear fruit with a sense of freshness as well as ripe exotic fruit. The palate is fresh and complex, with a nice acid line and a hint of pithy structure under the bright fruit. Superb balance and depth, with the oak very much in the background. This shows what Alvarinho can do so well in Vinho Verde, in the hands of the most celebrated winemaker in the region. 94/100 (£46.90 Hedonism)

Luis Pato Vinha Formal Bical 2021 Bairrada, Portugal
13% alcohol. This is really impressive. It has a bit of colour, and a complex nose of wax and lime with some pithy grapefruit. In the mouth there’s some pithy citrus fruit together with yellow plum and white peach, and then lots of mineral, stony detail, finishing firm and waxy and taut. With high mineral extract and keen acidity, this is a fresh, complex, focused white that should age effortlessly for many years. Remarkable stuff, and quite lovely. 95/100 (£35 Hedonism)

Ops wines

Website: https://www.opswines.co.uk/

Adega de Cantanhede Conde de Cantanhede Bruto NV Beira Atlantico, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. Fresh, bright and pure with nice lemon and cherry fruit, as well as a hint of peachy richness. Juicy and alive with nice precision as well as a twist of bitterness and then some subtle toasty, bready richness on the finish. Very classy and offers real interest at a good price. 90/100

Adega de Cantanhede Conde de Cantanhede Blanc de Noirs Bruto NV Beira Altantico, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. Impressive stuff: there’s a sour cherry and damson edge to the lively citrus fruit, with a touch of apple and even some ripe pear. Has precision, with good acidity keeping all the richer flavours in line. A very sophisticated example of sparkling Baga with lovely structure and acidity, making this a highly gastronomic wine. There’s a great combination of fruit, texture and acidity here, with a pleasant bitterness adding interest. 92/100

Adega de Cantanhede Marques de Marialva Baga Cuvée 2014 Bairrada, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. This is really complex and bold with nuts, honey, almonds, some wood spice, ripe pear and some lively citrus. It has good acidity and a lively finish, but also lots of depth of flavour. There’s toast and spice, and really lovely fruit. Such an intense, sophisticated expression of sparkling Bairrada, with a tapered sour cherry finish. Beautiful stuff. 93/100

Wine Down

Website: https://www.winedown.im/

Leme Avesso 2022 Vinho Verde, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. This is brightly aromatic with some exotic tropical pineapple and melon notes as well as pear and citrus. There’s nice rich, plump fruit but also lovely acidity. Very easy and friendly but has a hint of complexity. A delicious fruit forward Vinho Verde. 89/100

Vale de Mata 2022 Lisboa, Portugal
13% alcohol. This is from a small vineyard owned by Caterina Viera of Rocim, a winery in the south of the Alentejo. Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional. Floral and aromatic with sweet cherries, a hint of olive tapenade, and some subtle peppery hints. The palate is fresh and supple with bright berry fruits and an appealing savoury, spicy framing. Lovely balance here: this is a beautifully focused red with ripe fruit but no sense of heaviness or jamminess. 93/100

Cellar Door Wines

Website: https://cellardoorwines.co.uk/

Quinta da Pedra Alta Reserva Branco 2022 Douro, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. A blend of local white varieties from Pedra Alta’s highest plots. Complex and nicely restrained with taut lemony fruit and some notes of pear and white peach. Lively and precise with good acidity and nice purity, this has the potential to develop with time, and it’s almost Burgundian in style. 94/100 (£27.95)

Kopke São Luiz Tinto Douro Organic 2021 Portugal
It’s not common to find organic Douro reds, partly because of the issues with weed control on terraced vineyards. But this one, from Kopke, is really good. It has a beautifully floral nose showing expressive cherry and berry fruits as well as a hint of olive. The palate is fresh and supple with bright raspberry and cherry fruit with some cured meat character and also some wild herbs, but always with emphasis on the fruit. A really impressive Douro red with great balance and nice structure as well as alluring fruit. Tastes of its place. 93/100 (£16.95)

Amps Wines

Website: https://www.ampswinemerchants.co.uk/

Quinta do Ameal Loureiro 2022 Vinho Verde, Portugal
12% alcohol. From the Lima Valley, this is fermented and aged in stainless steel vats. Pure, fine and aromatic with a lovely nose of lemon and lime. It’s steely and fresh on the palate but has nice texture with concentrated citrus fruits and some wet stone minerality. Really expressive and with the potential for development. 92/100

S.V. Palmela Serra Mae Castelão 2020 Palmela, Lisboa, Portugal
14% alcohol. This is beautifully floral with some olive notes complementing the sweet cherries and berries. In the mouth it has freshness and texture with fine spices and some dried herbs, as well as more of the olive tapenade character alongside juicy, crunchy cherry and strawberry fruit. Such drinkability and also some richness. 91/100

Esporao Alicante Bouschet 2015 Alentejo, Portugal
14.5% alcohol. This is almost 9 years old and it has mellowed from what must have been quite a formidable young wine. Black cherries and blackcurrants on the nose with some tar, pepper, mint and a subtle earthy maturity. In the mouth it’s dense, structured but refined with some woody, spicy notes and vanilla complementing the vivid blackberry fruit. Rich, dense and harmonious, this is impressive in this oak aged, mature style. 93/100

Sivipa Moscatel de Setúbal NV Portugal
17% alcohol. From Sociedade Vinicola de Palmela. Full golden colour, with hints of red and copper. Such a distinctive style of sweet wine, done really well. Really explosive aromatics of grapes, honey, raisins and tea, with a twist of marmalade. In the mouth this is very sweet but balanced, with table grapes, marmalade, a bit of spicy structure and nice balancing acidity. Rich and complex, this is a remarkable wine with so many dimensions. 94/100