‘One of Portugal’s Best Kept Secrets’ – Gordon Ramsey on Colares wines
Colares Wines are unique for various reasons:
- They are some of the oldest wines in Portugal, dating back to year 1255
- A large part of the vines grow deep in sand dunes – a detail that protected them from the 1865 phylloxera plague
- They get their special taste from the harsh coastal climate (westernmost vineyards of continental Europe)
- And now most recently: the world famous chef Gordon Ramsay just featured the Colares Wines in the National Geographic program Uncharted, calling the wine ‘one of the best kept secrets of Portugal’! (watch the trailer of his visit here)
The Colares wines in Sintra are some of the oldest in Portugal
The Colares wine region is the smallest demarcated wine region of Portugal (DOC Colares). The wine culture goes back to 1255 when king D Afonso lll ordered wine to be planted. Supposedly the Ramisco vines came from northern France, Boulogne region, where the king had previously lived.
A large part of the Colares vines are grown in the sand dunes
Dug deep like in trenches covered with sand, the vines lay on top of the ground almost looking abandoned. There is no trellising systems so the vines grow low due to the sea winds and are protected by hand-made palisades of dried canes sewn together with wicker. They survived the 1865 plague of phylloxera, as the bug could not reach the roots through the thick of sand. Because of this, the Colares Ramisco vines are some of the oldest vines in Portugal.
The uniqueness of the taste of these wines is due to the closeness of the sea
The coastal climate is very harsh, with moderate temperatures, strong sea winds and a high percentage of air moisture.
The Ramisco wines take a long time to mature, a minimum of 18 months, but often up to 6-8 years, in wooden barrels and the bottle. Its aroma is complex, with hints of nuts and red fruits. The production is quite small, with no more than 20 000 bottles per year. The typical white Colares wine is Malvasia (of Greek origin); a fresh and citrine wine with fruity and floral aroma, that has even a smaller annual production of about 15 000 bottles a year. The small production of these high quality wines have made this region a special treat for the connoisseurs!
There are several vineyards and cellars in Sintra that produce a vast variety of wines of excellent quality
Some of our favourite Sintra vineyards include
- Cooperativa de Colares, the country’s oldest wine co-op
- Casal Santa Maria and Adega Viúva Gomes in Almoçageme
- Quinta San Michel in Janas
All of them organize tours and wine tastings – enquire and set up yours through our office so that you can taste these wonderful wines. We will be happy to suggest hikes to visit the cellars and the vineyards!
For more information on walks that take you to these vineyards, check out the WalkSintra page.