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A special thanks to Wines of Portugal for use of the information provided.

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    Dão

    Surrounded on all sides by mountains, the Dão region is protected both from the direct influence of the continental climate and from the chill and rains from the ocean.

    The really special thing about the wines of the Dão, whether red or white, is the delicious balance of all their constituent parts - acidity, alcohol, concentration of flavour – it all adds up to elegance.

    The region might have been created with winemaking in mind – you couldn’t wish for better conditions.

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    Távora-Varosa

    This is a small, remote, mountainous region in the north of the VR Beiras, bordering on the Douro to the north, and the Dão region to the south.

    Vines were first planted in what is now DOC Távora-Varosa by Cistercian monks, who built monasteries and churches amongst the vines. Hence the name of this new Vinho Regional (covering precisely the same area as the DOC): Terras de Cister (Cistercian Country).

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    Vinho Verde

    Vinho Verde is the biggest wine producing region in Portugal, located up in the cool, rainy, verdant north west. The vines grow in fertile, granite soils along rivers that flow from the mountains of the east to burst out into the ocean between golden surfing beaches.

    Across the vast expanse of north-west Portugal, a lush, green mantle flows from craggy mountain peaks and blanketing hinterland valleys sweeping down to the sea. From Melgaço to Vale de Cambra, and Esposende to the granite mountains at Basto by the border with Trás-os-Montes, the land rises and falls. Here and there, towns and villages nestle amongst the vegetation. This densely-populated, fertile land is the birthplace of Vinho Verde.

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    Porto and Douro

    Long famous as the source of port wine, the Douro is now also renowned for its fine, rich unfortified wines, both red and white.

    Steep slopes shelve deep into the River Douro. Hills stretch off into the horizon, and narrow roads wind around the hillsides. Vine terraces bask in the sun, their soil pure schist and granite. This wild and beautiful part of northern Portugal offers extraordinarily good conditions for wine grapes, though life is not easy for Douro winegrowers. Roots force down between layers of rock seeking out the limited water, while the schist absorbs and then radiates heat.

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    Trás-os-Montes

    In the remote north east of Portugal, cut off from the coast by a series of mountain ranges, Trás-os-Montes is wild, high country, its soils poor and unproductive, granite with here and there the odd patch of schist. The extreme continental climate brings long, hot summers followed by long, icy winters.

    Whichever way you approach Trás-os-Montes, up in Portugal’s far north-eastern corner, there are mountains to cross. Indeed, Trás-os-Montes means ‘Beyond the Mountains’. And once through those barriers (easy nowadays on new, modern roads and motorways), you find yourself in one of Portugal’s most beautiful regions. The scenery changes rapidly, sometimes moorland, sometimes pine forest, lush green valleys, or ancient hills covered in a patchwork of grey-green olive groves, bright green vines, fruit and almond trees, irrigated by little streams.

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    Beira Interior

    These high, granite uplands over by the Spanish border include some of Portugal's highest and most impressive mountains.

    Dramatic mountainous uplands dominate the border of this region. With Spain in the east, the area is strewn with granite boulders, and dotted with ancient villages and fortified towns.

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    Alentejo

    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.

    This huge, sun-drenched area, covering much of the southern half of Portugal, has in recent years become an important source of big, ripe, fruity, easy-drinking reds which often dominate the wine lists of Lisbon restaurants.

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    Madeira

    Madeira's fortified wines keep practically for ever - they have been known to survive for more than two centuries.

    Off the coast of Africa, 1,000km from mainland Portugal, the semi-tropical island of Madeira has long been famous for its fortified wines, DOP Madeira. (Madeira has chosen to use the new EU designations, DOP and IGP.) Now, along with its sandy neighbour Porto Santo, it has a second DOP for its unfortified wines, DOP Madeirense, and the islands also make unfortified wines labelled IGP Terras Madeirenses.

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    The Azores

    The Azores are an archipelago of nine islands about a third of the way out into the Atlantic on a line between Lisbon and New Jersey.

    Buffeted by the mid-Atlantic weather, on the same latitude as Lisbon, this little group of islands has lush, green countryside, volcanic peaks and lakes, caverns, sulphur pits and lava flows. So spectacular are the islands’ historic vineyards that a vineyard area on the island of Pico has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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    Algarve

    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 3,000 hours of sunshine every year.

    Over the last 50 years, many vineyards in the Algarve have made way for golf courses, hotel complexes, avocado and citrus trees. But now, just a little way inland from the coast, new vineyards have been planted – Portuguese grapes as well as the likes of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. There has also been investment in wineries.

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    Setúbal Peninsula

    The Setúbal Peninsula lies across the estuary of the River Tagus directly south of Lisbon, and linked to Lisbon by two bridges.

    The heartland of this seaside region is the Setúbal Peninsula, across the Tagus bridges from Lisbon. It’s a vibrant venue for Lisbon weekenders, and, since the opening of the latest, most spectacular bridge, home to ever more commuters. In summer, the magnets are the smart Atlantic surf beaches and golf courses of the west, as well as the sheltered southern coves beneath the wooded hills of the Arrábida Natural Park.

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    Lisboa

    West and north of the city of Lisbon, the Lisboa wine region 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 also has nine DOC.

    Fresh sea breezes keep the windmills turning in this charming, hilly coastal region to the west and north of Lisbon. They also keep the vineyards cool, especially on the seaward side. The Vinho Regional Lisboa area (which was known as Vinho Regional Estremadura until the 2008 vintage) has more DOCs than any other Vinho Regional area of Portugal: a total of nine, of which one is for aguardente (brandy) rather than wine.

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    Tejo

    DOC Do Tejo occupies almost the same large area as VR Tejo, on either side of the River Tagus (Tejo in Portuguese) as it flows gently along in a south-westerly direction towards its estuary at Lisbon. Until recently the DOC was called Ribatejo and the "vinho regional Ribatejano".

    Willowy, watery meadows, flat, green farmland cut through by a wide, stately river – these are the classic images of the Tejo region. And indeed the region encompasses much of the course of the River Tagus (Tejo in Portuguese) as it flows down from the centre of Portugal into its gaping estuary, by Lisbon. But away from the river, the Tejo region rises into drier, hillier country, clad in olive groves and orchards, as well as vines.

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    Bairrada

    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.

    Flat in the west, the region rises in the east into small hills, intensively farmed and sometimes wooded. This is the land of leitão, the delicious roast suckling pig, and also, traditionally, of firm red wines made from the Baga grape - red Bairrada used to contain a minimum 85% of Baga.

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