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The Algarve… more than just beaches

The Algarve needs little introduction, it is the southernmost region of Portugal and it's one of Europe's favourite holiday destinations well known for glorious year round sunshine and excellent sandy beaches. Summer in the Algarve is dry and clear, with the warm sunshine extending long into autumn. Winters are moderately cold and are the rainiest time of year. Overall the weather is pleasantly mild.

| The Wine

Wine production had taken a back seat to tourism for decades as the Algarve catered for the droves of holiday makers who flock to this beautiful region every year. But now as Sir Cliff Richard would attest, who has his own vineyard here, wine making in the Algarve is stepping out of the shadows.

The Algarve is the only demarcated District in Portugal that does not produce a variety of white wines along with its red wine. The red wines tend to be full-bodied, a fruity rich flavour, low acidity, and containing a high alcohol level. Of late there has been a renewal of interest and several smaller private vineyards have been created and are marketing their own labels. There has recently been a resurgence of interest in the smaller privately owned vineyards to commercialise their production.

| Appellation

• Lagoa DOC

This region covers the municipalities of both Albufeira and Lagoa. The soft sandy soil and warm climate provides a rich distinct flavour. The red wines are ruby-coloured which develop with age and are easy to drink. The white wine is soft and full-bodied. Both have high alcohol content.

• Lagos DOC

This region covers the municipalities of Aljezur, Lagos and Sagres. The red wine is smooth and fruity with low acidity level. The white wine is lemon-straw in colour and tends to be full-bodied.

• Portimão DOC

The red wine is light, smooth with low acidity and high alcohol content. The white wine is straw-coloured with a soft and rich aromatic flavour.

• Tavira DOC

This region covers the municipalities of Castro Marim, Faro, Olhão, São Brás de Alportel, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António. The red wine is soft, pale-coloured and with a fruity aroma. The white wine is straw-coloured, smooth and full-bodied.

• Vinho Regional (VR) Algarve

The Algarve region is more maverick than other of the Portuguese wine regions and many of the new wine makers in the area turn their backs on the restraints and regulations to achieve a DOC label. Instead they favour the more flexible VR Algarve regulations which allow growers to be more creative with grape blends than DOC. Many also see the term "VR Algarve" more readily accessible and a stronger brand for new potential customers.

| Algarve Grape varietals

Bual Branco

Local name for Malvasia Fina.

Castelão Probably Portugal's most widely planted red variety, most dominant in the south. It makes a firm, elegant raspberry fruity wines that evolve to a cedary, cigar box character.
Manteudo A relatively neutral, high yielding white widely used in the Alentejo.
Negra Mole Better known on the island of Madeira, this grape produces very high yields of sweet, pale red wine.
Roupeiro Southern synonym for Síria which, confusingly enough is know as Alva in the north or Alentejo, as Côdega in the Douro where it's used in making white Port and as Síria in the Beiras. Best known for the honeyed whites it produces.