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We were delighted that Wines of Portugal recognised our love affair with Portuguese wine, when they named us Best Independent Chain earlier this year.

We take no small interest in Portugal and are pretty damn excited as we believe that, like fans crammed into The Cavern Club to hear The Beatles or the first person to put sea salt in caramel, we are about to watch something explode in a big way.

Why so? Portuguese vintners have been quietly working away at what they do best – wine made from unique, local grape varieties that tastes unlike pretty much anything else on the market – for a long time. Which is wonderful, as they have really honed the art over the last 4,000-odd years. Lately, we’ve seen more exciting producers pop up than we’ve had hot meals, and we’ve been adding our favourites to our ever-expanding Portuguese range.


We are glad to say that we think there’ll be a lot more people banging the drum for Portugal now, as it has invested heavily in its wine export industry. Producers used to concentrate on exporting Port, keeping their wine for their home market, but they are now on an export drive.

They are jazzing up their labels; including more product information; there is even talk of anglicising grape names; and this year’s Portuguese Wine Fair was veritably buzzing.

But enough PR: let’s get down to the wine. Its closest equivalent, by way of a reference point, would be Spain or Italy. It has the rustic qualities of the former, with the food-friendliness of the latter. Word on the street is that Vinho Verde is reinventing itself and you can now find some seriously, er, serious wines from this northern Portuguese region. Ana, our Buyer, reckons the more southerly Alentejo is the region-to-watch for top value. You heard it here first…