New book on Portuguese wines from the author of Port and the Douro
Portuguese wine and British drinkers have a relationship going back centuries. In the latter part of the twentieth century the picture of Portuguese wines held by most Brits was most likely a combination of quaffable pink wines, sunny reds drunk on holiday and Christmas Ports. But one Englishman was paying a bit more attention. Richard Mayson first visited the country as a child and was instantly enchanted by the place and its people, later developing a fascination with its wines. Having lived and worked there, including at one time owning and managing a vineyard in the Alentejo, he is ideally placed to introduce readers to the great variety of wines produced in Portugal.
In The wines of Portugal, Mayson demonstrates a clear love for both the wines and the country. After placing the wines in their historical context, the award-winning writer goes on to explore the grapes, of which Portugal has around 250 indigenous varieties, before explaining the demarcated wine regions. For a small country Portugal has a remarkable range of terroirs and wines. The book is divided along broad geographical lines into four main chapters: coastal Atlantic wines, wines from the mountains (largely in the north of the country), southern plains wines and wines from the islands of Madeira and the Azores. The wines range from the young, fresh, Atlantic-influenced Vinho Verde of the north-west to the “ripe and easygoing” reds of the Alentejo in the south, where the use of traditional talhas has been revived. But there are also the two famed fortified wines, Madeira and Port, and sweet wines such as those from Sétubal, which Mayson recommends as an ideal accompaniment to Christmas pudding. While the contribution of Mateus and Lancers to the revival of Portuguese wines should not be forgotten, there are now producers creating interesting, crafted rosés, and the recent fashion for sparkling wines has seen winemakers in all regions creating fizz worth celebrating.
Reading the story he tells here, wine lovers will find it difficult to resist dreaming of wine holidays in spectacular Douro scenery or planning sunny coastal trips with a wine angle. Mayson is adept at explaining how grape variety, terroir, social changes, tastes in wine, vineyard management and cellar practices all interact to create the wines being produced today. Drawing these elements together in a compelling narrative he says, “Wine brings all these strands together: why is one wine different from another? The answer comes from the innumerable physical and human variables embodied in a deep sense of place. That, in short, is what makes wine so fascinating.” Readers who enjoyed Mayson’s two previous Classic Wine Library books, Port and the Douro and Madeira: The islands and their wines, should add this new book to their Christmas lists.
About the author
Richard Mayson entered the wine trade as a result of living and working in Portugal and spent five years working for the Wine Society before becoming a freelance writer. He is the author of six wine books. In 2014 Richard was the Louis Roederer International Wine Feature Writer of the Year and in 2015 Madeira: The islands and their wines was shortlisted for the André Simon Award. Richard has contributed to a number of publications, including the Oxford Companion to Wine, the Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine and the World Atlas of Wine. He writes regularly for Decanter and the World of Fine Wine and chairs the Port and Madeira panel for the Decanter World Wine Awards.
The wines of Portugal is published by Infinite Ideas on 12 November 2020.
ISBN: 9781999619305, pb, rrp £30, 234 x 156mm, 366pp.
Also available as an eBook.
Review copies available from firstname.lastname@example.org; 07802 443957