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Characterization of Portuguese wine styles

Beiras wine region

Beira is a region situated in the centre-north of Portugal; it comprises several wine regions of Registered Designation of Origin (RDO). In this vast wine region of Beiras we have the RDO Távora-Varosa, Bairrada, Dão and Beira Interior. Being such a wide region, there are geographical indications other than Terras da Beira (Figure No. 9), Terras de Cister (Figure No. 10), Terras do Dão e Lafões (Figure No.11) and Beira Atlântico (Figure No. 12).

The demand to recognize each Terroir forced the detailing of the classification of the different geographical areas of production. It is an extensive region with many styles of wine: the RDO Távora-Varosa is recognized for the excellent quality of sparkling wines it produces, and the remaining RDO's are acknowledged mostly for the white and red wines.

The wine production in this region dates back to period of the Roman occupation of the territory, and one can still see some Roman wine presses, which were excavated in granitic rocks typical of the region. The vineyards are planted between four and eight hundred meters high. The soils in the region are mostly of granitic origin. The Serras (mountains) of Caramulo, Buçaco, Estrela and Nave are the main hills that define the different climates.

A diverse range of grape varieties are authorized in the region. A part of the ampelographic "treasure" is very present here. The most used white varieties are Arinto, Bical, Cercial, Encruzado, Maria Gomes, and the red grape varieties are Baga, Rufete, Jean, Alfrocheiro Preto, Tinta Roriz, Bastardo Castelão and Touriga Nacional, as well as other indigenous varieties present in smaller quantities.

In Beira the most important Registered Designation of Origin are the DOC (RDO) Dão and DOC (RDO) Bairrada, given its unique characteristics along with its strong historical component.

The geographical area of DOC (RDO) Dão wine production is located in the north centre of Portugal, a mountainous enclave surrounded by the Serras of Caramulo and Buçaco, to the north, and the Serras of Nave and Estrela to the east. This range of mountains is an important natural barrier to cold and humid air masses coming from the coast. In this region the soils are of granitic origin, with some pre-Cambrian schist soils patches, often moist and fertile.

The geographical area of DOC (RDO) Bairrada wine production is located between Águeda and Coimbra, very close to the coastal region of Portugal. The vines are grown predominantly in clayey nature and clay-limestone soils. The climate of this region is quite marked by the maritime influence, which means that winter is long and cold and summer is hot, tempered by the winds of the Atlantic Ocean.

The wines of different designations of origin within the Beira region are quite different and with a huge wealth in diversity of styles. Despite the Terroir quite marked in each type of wine, is still necessary to increase the disclosure of the region. The wines produced in Beira have good characteristics for its acceptance in various markets; however, the lack of production on a larger scale, coupled with the lack of a joint communication strategy, hinders the understanding of a positive image of all regions.

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