A Few Surprises: An Interview with Nuno Vale from ViniPortugal

Being part of the Wine Trade in Vancouver, I’ve learned quite a bit about Portuguese wines and I’ve tried to pass that info along to you in my posts.  Tasting wines are important, but also important is to talk with Portuguese wine makers and people in the Portuguese Wine Trade.  The Wines of Portugal were in Vancouver recently, and I had written about some interesting red, white, and fortified wines I tasted.  But I also had a chance to speak with Mr. Nuno Vale the Chief Marketing Officer for ViniPortugal.  Mr. Vale has lived and traveled around the world for his work, and is a very interesting and lively person to speak with.  Below is my brief interview with Mr. Vale.  I hope you get a few surprises about Portuguese wine that you did not know.  Enjoy!

MyWinePal Chats with Mr. Nuno Vale

Mr Nuno Vale from ViniPortugal

Mr Nuno Vale from ViniPortugal

MyWinePal: Is there a new wine region you would like people to know about in Portugal?
Mr. Vale: A new region, no, I would not say that.  I would say that people are discovering Portugal, and people are discovering the great improvement in wine quality and innovation in the past 10-15 years.  Each region in Portugal is doing great things, and there are great producers in each region. What is news is the level of quality wine production has reached and the capacity of innovation.

MyWinePal: Can you give me an example of innovation?
Mr. Vale: In the last 15 years Portugal was protecting it’s native varieties. While other countries were planting international varieties the producers here kept primarily to native varieties.  Viticulture and enology has improved in Portugal which has led to improvements in quality.  The wines are unique in grape variety, but also high in quality.
There are 250+ native grape varieties in Portugal, with most being red grapes.  White wines over 5-10 years have also improved, and in some export markets growth is coming from white wines, such as from Germany and the USA.

MyWinePal: On the export side, where does Canada rank?
Mr. Vale: It is the #8 country in terms of export and it is growing more than the average. The global average for Port and table wine combined is 2.4%, and Canada it is 4.4%.  If you consider only table wines, then they are growing faster than fortified.  Table wines are > 50% of our exports but Port is still very big.

MyWinePal: How does BC contribute to Portuguese wine purchases?
Mr. Vale: Not a lot yet.  Probably Quebec and Ontario are 90% of our exports. But our objective is to grow.  Wine is important in lifestyle and food in Canada and I think exports to BC will grow.  Quebec is #6 is sales in the world and Quebec has 2nd fastest growth in the world.

Terra d' Alter Touriga Nacional 2012

Terra d’ Alter Touriga Nacional 2012

MyWinePal: Is there a particular grape variety you wish more people would try from Portugal?
Mr. Vale: Well Touriga Nacional is a flagship variety.  If someone doesn’t know about Portuguese wines they should start with Touriga Nacional.  I think people should learn about 10 grape varieties to get a good understanding of the diversity of the country and our wines.  Start with 6 reds and 4 whites to give you a rough start to understand the country.

MyWinePal: Do people still think of Portugal as Port wine only?
Mr. Vale: The awareness of Port is top of peoples’ minds.  In the Douro, the table wines started only a few years ago and now it has become very important.  The wine trade is aware, and now consumers are becoming aware of our table wines.

MyWinePal: Has global warming helped or hurt Portugal?  More declared vintages for Port with warm weather, and the warmer weather making fuller bodied wines in the Northwest for example?
Mr. Vale: With global warming, researchers are studying the effects on the grapes. They are studying a lot of grape varieties and their clones and how the weather changes are affecting them. They are trying to understand which are the best clones from each grape variety to produce quality wines due to global warming.  With so many clones and grape varieties we are not impacted as much as other areas around the world.

MyWinePal: Who will win the World Cup?
Mr. Vale: We will! *chuckles out loud*

Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Some people prefer red wines. Some only like Cabernet Sauvignon. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I met many great wine makers. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.