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Vinhos (wines) are the most elementary wines of Portugal. They must not comply with any regulations on quality or regional wines. Contrary to what one might think, these are generally not mediocre or insignificant wines. They come from the will of ambitious winegrowers who have chosen to produce outside the official rules and who have intentionally classified their wine as table wine.
As these wines are not covered by registered designations of origin, "regional wines" and indications of regulated origin, it is appropriate to review these different categories to understand the category of wines without a designation.
Appellations in Portugal
Portugal's system of appellations can be compared to the French, with the difference that there are two control bodies here: the Instituto da Vinha and do Vinho for classic wines, the Instituto do Vinho do Porto entirely dedicated to Port.
At the highest level of the European wine hierarchy, Portugal has 31 DOC/DOP. These two names are currently used in Portugal, the traditional "DOC" (Denominação de Origem Controlada) meaning designation of origin while the recent European "DOP" (Denominação de Origem Protegida) indicates protected designations of origin. Each of these regions is defined by its own very strict geographical limits. The DOC regulations dictate, in particular, the maximum grape yield standards and the recommended and authorised grape varieties. All wines should be tasted, tested and approved in the strictest confidence.
Since the establishment of the appellation system in the 1990s, there has been a real improvement in the quality of Portuguese wines. However, they had previously suffered from a lack of recognition, reputed to be hollow or too heavy wines, without finesse.
15 regions are recognized under the D.O.C.(Denominaçao de Origem Controlada) designation:
- Setubal Muscat
- Vinho Verde
The “vinhos regionals”
Vinhos Regionals are Portuguese wines linked to a specific geographical region. This name has been around for years. These are quality wines that do not, however, comply with at least one of the rules inherent in Portuguese DOC appellations. They thus have less strict designations than those provided for DOC wines. However, there is a whole list of prestigious Portuguese wines classified as Vinho Regional. The more flexible regulations here give producers a greater leeway for individuality, even if these wines must meet certain criteria regarding grape variety, minimum alcohol content, among others.
Of particular note are the excellent “Vinhos Regionals” des Terras do Sado. Of the 10 regions of Portugal, 8 have this name : Alentejano, Algarve, Beiras, Estremadura, Minho, Ribatejano, Terras do Sado, Trás-os-Montess.
Regulated indications of source
Wines of "inferior quality "** (a term that should in no way be taken in a pejorative sense, attention) are designated I.P.R. (Indicacao de Provenienca Regulamentada) corresponding to European legislation on VQPRD (Quality wines produced in specified regions).
These are wines designated in order to obtain the DOC appellation. These Portuguese wines must comply with a whole list of regulatory standards and are "monitored" for a period of 5 years in order to potentially benefit from this designation.
The main wines with an indication of origin regulated** (Indicação de Proveniência Regulamentada) are: Alcobaça, Biscoitos, Cartaxo, Castelo Rodrigo, Chamusca, Chaves, Coruche, Cova da Beira, Encostas de Aire, Encostas da Nave, Graciosa, Lafões, Pinhel, Planalto Mirandês, Pico, Santarém, Tomar, Valpaços and Varosa.