Wine Regions in Portugal
Viticulture in the Bairrada has existed since at least the 10th century, when the region gained independence from the Moors. Located just south of the major Port wine producing center of Oporto, the fortunes of Bairrada were on the upswing during the 17th century when Port producers, eager to supply the growing British market, would blend Bairrada wines with the product coming from the Douro.
The wine region is located primarily on a plateau that is sheltered on three sides by the granite mountain ranges of Serra da Estrela, Serra do Caramulo and Serra da Nave. This helps the area maintain its temperate climate away from the affects of the nearby Atlantic Ocean. The region experiences abundant rainfall in the winter months and long, warm dry summers leading up to harvest. The region's vineyards are planted on sandy well-drained soil on top of granite rock..
There is archaeological evidence for winemaking in the region dating from the end of the Western Roman Empire, during the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, although grape seeds have also been found at older archaeological sites. In Medieval times from the mid-12th century, Cistercians had an important influence on winemaking in the region, through their three monasteries Salzedas, São João de Tarouca and São Pedro das Aguias.
Madeira was an important wine in the history of the United States of America. No wine quality grapes could be grown among the thirteen colonies so imports were needed with a great focus on Madeira. One of the major events on the road to revolution in which Madeira played a key role was the British seizure of John Hancock’s sloop the Liberty on May 9, 1768. Hancock's boat was seized after he had unloaded a cargo of 25 pipes (3,150 gallons) of Madeira and a dispute over import duties arose. The seizure of the Liberty caused riots to erupt among the people of Boston.
The demarcation of the Douro River Valley includes a broad swath land of pre-Cambrian schist and granite. Beginning around the village of Barqueiros (located about 40 miles (about 70 km) upstream from Porto), the valley extends eastward nearly to the Spanish border. The region is protected from the influences of the Atlantic Ocean by the Serra do Marão mountains. The area is sub-divided into 3 official zones-the Baixo (lower) Corgo, the Cima (higher) Corgo and the Douro Superior.
The Vinhos Verdes are light and fresh, and are intended to be drunk within a year. At less than one bar of CO2 pressure, they do not quite qualify as semi-sparkling wines but do have a definite petillance. The white Vinho Verde is very fresh, due its natural acidity, with fruity and floral aromas that depend on the grape variety. The white wines are lemon- or straw-coloured, around 8.5 to 11% alcohol, and are made from local grape varieties Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Avesso and Azal. Vinho Alvarinho is made from Alvarinho grapes, from a small designated sub-region of Monção. It has more alcohol (11.5 to 14%) and ripe tropical aromas. The reds are deep red and tannic, and are mostly made from Vinhão, Borraçal and Amaral grapes. The roses are very fresh and fruity, usually made from Espadeiro and Padeiro grapes.