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Vinho Verde is the biggest DOC of Portugal, up in the cool, rainy, verdant north west. The vines grow in fertile, granite soils along rivers that flow from the mountains of tha east to burst out into the ocean between golden surfing beaches.
Long famous as the source of port wine, the Douro is now also renowned for its fine, rich unfortified wines, both red and white.
Surrounded on all side by mountains, the Dão region is protected both from the direct influnce of the continental climate, and from the chill and rains from the ocean.
Bordering between regions "Douro" and "Land of Dan," we find the IG "Land Cistercian" and DO "Távora-Varosa" than being a small region, it is nevertheless very important in the production of sparkling, although also it is produce fresh white wines and soft red. The region is located in the foothills of the Serra da Nave slopes, between Paiva and Távora rivers, presents traces of human occupation since the proto-history and she passed Romans, Swabians and Visigoths, having been chosen by the Cistercian monks to there build some of the most beautiful Cistercian architectural examples such as the Monastery of St. John of Tarouca, the first of the Iberian Peninsula, built in the twelfth century.
In the western part of the Beiras, between the mountainous Dão region and the surf-washed Atlantic beaches, Bairrada has a mild, maritime climate with abundant rainfall.
These high, granite uplands over by the Spanish border include some of Portugal's highest and most impressive mountains.
West and north of the city of Lisbon, the Lisboa wine region is a long, thin region running up beside the Atlantic and was until recently known as Estremadura. A lot of wine is made here, much of it in co-operatives, in a very wide variety of styles and qualities. This region where the "vinho regional" Lisboa is predominant has nine DOC. The the main traditional white varieties are Arinto, Fernão Pires, Malvasia, Seara-Nova and Vital, and for reds Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Castelão, Tinta Miúda, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira, but many other national and foreign grapes are now used for VR wines and certain DOC wines.
The Setúbal Peninsula lies across the estuary of the River Tagus directly south of Lisbon, and linked to Lisbon by two bridges. This wine region also includes a large coastal chunk of the administrative region (as opposed to the wine region) of Alentejo. Much of the area is flat and sandy, with the exception of the Serra da Arrábida where the grapes are grown for the famous sweet Moscatel de Setúbal wines. The Vinho Regional was recently renamed Península de Setúbal. (it was formerly called ‘Terras do Sado’ after the River Sado that flows through the southern part of the region). There are two DOCs, Setúbal and Palmela. Setúbal is sweet and fortified, made primarily from the Muscat of Alexandria grape. It can be labelled Moscatel de Setúbal when Muscat makes up more than 85 percent of the blend.
The Alentejo region covers about a third of Portugal, and winemakers in the remaining two-thirds can often be heard to complain about the popularity of Alentejo wines.
Vines love Portugal's southernmost region for the same reason the tourists do - it's never too hot, never too cold, and they can be sure to enjoy more than 3000 hours of sunshine every year.