I saw a bit of a worrying article this morning (via André Peres) suggesting that the way forward for Portuguese wine was via international varieties. I genuinely hope not. I'm always recommending Portuguese wines like this excellent Tuella from the Symington Estate to friends and family I think that generally Portugal offers some great wines at some very keen price points. However, in a country where most people buy their wines as another commodity, something chucked in the supermarket trolley along with the toilet roll and the dog food, Portuguese wines are not a great seller. Why? Well people buy the familiar, often through positive association; having enjoyed a Sauvignon Blanc they'll try another, and that's an awful lot more difficult when the varieties are a speciality of a region and you're not going to see very much (if anything) of them elsewhere.
I think it would be a shame if Portugal's unique identity was lost in favour of producing more homogenised wines the likes of which we see from every other wine producing country. Yes, there might be a short term gain in planting international varieties, but in the long term the investment would be better off going into establishing names like Touriga Nacional and Tinta Barroca in the wine drinking public's consciousness. I'm hoping that Portuguese wines, like those of Italy, retain their identity for a long time yet - go on, give them a try!
Tuella Tinto Douro 2009, lots of body and autumnal fruit, and very indicative of what Portugal's native grapes can offer - who needs Cabernet Sauvignon? A bargain at £7.99 from Majestic.