Algarve wine. Most people simply conjure up visions of a five litre ‘garrafão’ of plonk from the Lagoa Cooperative. Indeed for a long time that was all it was; heavy, rather lifeless and perhaps best used for making “sangria”. The Lagoa Cooperative is actually one of four DOC (the Portuguese version of the French Appelation Controllée) cooperatives in the Algarve; Lagos, Portimão and Tavira also boasting a similar status for reasons lost in time. The latter three are effectively out of the picture and Lagoa virtually has the field to itself. Lack of any serious competition has not exactly been conducive to any improvement in quality however; moreover it was much more profitable to sell land to build villas and golf courses than to tend vines.
This pretty much remained the picture until a few years ago until Sir Cliff Richard decided to invest some of his ample resources in a vineyard beside his home in Guia. With guidance from Australian winemaker David Baverstock, of Esporão fame, who knew that with modern viticultural and winemaking techniques that the Algarve climate and soil was no barrier to making reasonable wine, he launched his wine “Vida Nova” on the market in 2005. This was greeted with surprise and even acclaim from many quarters and was a sell-out in the UK. The cynics of course suggested that anything in a bottle with his name on it would have been a sell-out! But that is unfair; it was a very good start and future vintages will undoubtedly be better still. His use of some of the local grape varieties, Aragonês (the local version of Spain’s Tempranillo) and Trincadeira, spiced up by the introduction of some Shiraz, seems a good mix for this climate and soil.
What he perhaps mostly achieved however was to start the wine ball really rolling in the Algarve. Longtime Algarve horticulturist and resident, Nigel Birch, has a burgeoning vineyard and joined forces with Cliff Richard to construct a winery. Portuguese business tycoon Pereira Coutinho planted extensive vineyards near Silves. João Mendes has a vineyard and his own winery, behind Penina towards Alcalar, where he produces his quite successful Tapada da Torre. One of the best Algarve wines comes from the hands of eminent Portuguese wine maker José Neiva of DFJ Vinhos (they are big exporters of Portuguese wines to the UK); called ‘Esplanada’ it is actually made at the Lagoa Cooperative, but under the very strict control of Sr. Neiva. The Lagoa Cooperative itself is also beginning to get the message, even if old habits do die hard. There are a number of other substantial vineyards being planted around the Algarve .Time will tell if there is room for all of them? Well, we shall see.
Robathans Algarve Property offers a selection of privately owned properties that are available as holiday homes and also luxury villas that are available for sale on Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo, Dunas Douradas and Vilamoura. To discuss the purchase of property on these resorts or booking a property for a holiday, make contact with Robathans Algarve Property. 01543 256 823