Facing the Atlantic to the west and neighbouring Spain to the east, Portugal is internationally known for its fortified wines Port. In recent years Portugal is also showing the potential to produce excellent non-fortified wines using local grapes.
Although Portugal is a comparatively small country, its climatic conditions vary hugely from coastal to inland areas. The coastal regions, especially those around the mountain ranges in the north, normally have a typical maritime climate with rainy, cool winters and warm summers. The more inland regions, however, have a more continental climate, with much less rainfall.
Vines are planted almost throughout Portugal except for the top of the mountains. Due to its diverse weather conditions, Portugal has nurtured a huge pool of native grape varieties. Important white grapes include Loureiro and Alvarinho, which are responsible for the Vinho Verde white wines; Touriga Nacional is one of Portugal’s most distinctive red varieties; Baga and the Spain variety Tempranillo (locally known as Tinta Roriz or Aragonez) are also used to make appealing reds. International varieties that are usually widely spread in other wine making countries — such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay — are much less-seen in Portugal.
The most important Portugal fine wine regions in the north include Vinho Verde, Douro, Dão and Bairrada, among which Douro is the heartland of Port. In the south the most important quality wine region is Alentejo.
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