Silver Coast Wine
– quality and diversity
The Silver Coast has a long history of producing local wine from both traditional grape varieties and the best known international ones. This, combined with the Silver Coast’s sheltering landscape and various microclimates, makes it possible to produce a wide variety of local wine.
The Silver Coast lies in the centre of what used to be known as the Estremadura wine region, but has now been incorporated in the Lisbon wine region. It has always had the potential to produce high quality local wine such as the famous Bucelas and the increasingly rare Colares sand wine, but until the last 20 years or so it had a reputation for producing large quantities of wine for mass consumption.
Since then there has been a massive programme of investment and restructuring which has included the planting of new grape varieties chosen for their quality. Today the local wine of the Silver Coast is highly regarded for its unbeatable combination of quality and price.
Investment in quality
Since the restructuring the Silver Coast region has focused on producing local wine from the noblest Portuguese and foreign grape varieties. Most of the investment went to the central areas of Óbidos, Arruda, Torres Vedras and Alenquer, where today the best DOC local wine comes from red grape varieties such as Castelão, Aragonez (Tinta Roriz), Touriga Nacional, Tinta Miúda and Trincadeira. These are sometimes blended with, among others, the Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Franca, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes. Silver Coast white wines are usually made from the Arinto, Fernão Pires, Seara-Nova and Vital grape, although Chardonnay is also grown in some areas.
The expansion of Lisbon has consigned the formerly famous wine-growing regions of Colares, Carcavelos and Bucelas to history. The proximity to the capital and the need for urbanisation have almost lead these region’s vines to extinction. Bucelas and Colares are still produced but in small quantities. The Denomination of Origin of Bucelas produces only white wines, mainly from the Arinto grape, which have won worldwide acclaim and were highly favoured by the English court during the Napoleonic Wards. Their appeal lies in a well balanced acidity, floral aromas and their ability to maintain their quality for many years.
Rare and exclusive
Colares is a Denomination of Origin located in the southern area of the Lisbon wine region. Produced from the Ramisco grape, it is known as sand wine as the vines are grown in limestone soils and sand very close to the sea. It has a taste of nuts and red fruits but is now rare – the region’s production rarely achieves 10,000 bottles, making it one of Portugal’s rarest and most expensive wines.
Some of the finest DOC local wine comes from the Alenquer region. The wines, both red and white, are produced from vines that are protected from the Atlantic winds which allows them to ripen slowly and so produce a more concentrated wine. In other parts of the region the red wines are aromatic and rich in tannins and suitable for laying down for years. White wines are generally fresh with a hint of citrus.
Another quality local wine worth a mention is Moscatel from the district of Setúbal on the edge of the Silver Coast region. This wine is in the style of a liqueur and comes from a region that has produced wine for as long as Portugal has been a country. Setúbal Moscatel is produced with special care. The best known, Moscatel Roxo, is aged in a cellar for 20 years before it is made available for sale.