Exports of Portuguese whites overtake reds in the UK

Jo Gilbert

Although Portugal is largely associated with red wines, for the first time, in 2016, the volume of DOP whites exported to the UK surpassed DOP red wines, it has been claimed. 

According to figures which were unveiled at ViniPortugal’s Viva Portugal Grand Tasting in London last week, Portuguese white wines have displayed strong growth in exports to the UK, with DOP whites up 34.8% and IGP whites +17.8% compared to 2015, overtaking those of red.

The quality of Portuguese white wines has undoubtedly improved in the last 10 years.

Driven by low ABV and easy-drinking style, the white wines of Vinho Verde are becoming increasingly popular and as a result Portugal has seen increased shelf space given to these wines by UK retailers, particularly those made from the Alvarinho and Loureiro grapes, which are grapes that consumers are more familiar with.

Red wines still form the backbone of Portuguese wine production and sales, particularly the fuller body red blends of the Douro and Alentejo and the lighter, softer blends of the Tejo and Lisboa regions.

Portuguese whites have been championed by the country’s famed Douro Boys, consisting of four closely linked vineyards in the Douro.

Having come together to promote table wine – something most producers in the Douro have done following the drop in consumption of Port – the group is now boosting production of white by looking at new vinification methods aimed at improving quality and freshness.

Overall growth of Portuguese exports are also claimed to be on the rise, with value exports of Portuguese still wine increasing by +13.1% in value and 13.8% in volume in the UK in 2016 compared to 2015.

Nuno Vale, CMO of ViniPortugal said: “It is important that we are able to compete in terms of both quality and authenticity at every price point, from entry level to super-premium.

“Value, quality, diversity and authenticity continue to be the most important arguments we have offer to gain retailers’ shelves, and have consumers prepared to pay more.”

Elsewhere in Portugal, historic Port producers, Symington Family Estates have announced the acquisition of a 207-hectare estate in the Alto Alentejo area of southern Portugal.

This marks the first time that the family has branched out of the Douro following their 135 years in the region.

Rupert Symington said: “After 135 years in the Douro our family felt that the time was right to make wine in another great Portuguese region. We love the Alto Alentejo and especially the location of this vineyard. We plan to make some exciting and interesting wines here.”

The Symingtons have been Port producers for five generations, since 1882, and are leading vineyard owners in the Douro Valley, with over 1000 ha of vineyards. 

 

 

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