Today we take a trip to the demarcated region of Távora-Varosa, in Beira Alta, the oldest in the country, to understand the whole story that exists in the bubbles of wine.
This story begins under the ground and ends at the height of the party, because this is the trip of a bottle of sparkling wine after all. No other drink spends so long in the darkness of a cellar. It is the liquid that seals the importance of ephemeris and that embodies the remarkable events. In recent years, the Portuguese sparkling wine has started to lose the shame of not being champagne and has entered the most brilliant period in its history. New producers have appeared, the oldest are playing cards in international competitions, sales are growing steadily.
Lamego, a land of great nobility that holds a significant place in Portuguese history, was, accordingly, the birthplace oh this wine. Even though the raw material comes from the original Champagne grape varieties, this wine has made its mark as a quintessentially Portuguese product.
It all started in 1898 when the junior rebel commander and his family founded the raposeira cellars. At that time, the owners of the raposeira cellars went on to study in the famous champagne region, and from then on a series of experiments carried out in lamego lands allowed to create the personality of some of the most renowned Portuguese sparkling wines.
On average, five million bottles are produced here annually. The area was demarcated in 1989, there are 3,500 hectares of land, spread over eight counties in Beira – Tarouca, Lamego, Sernancelhe, Moimenta da Beira, Penedono, Tabuaço, São João da Pesqueira and Armamar. Together with Bairrada, it is a region of effervescence par excellence. From here come two icons of national sparkling wine, Raposeira and Murganheira. In the valleys of the Távora and Varosa rivers, two tributaries on the left bank of the Douro, it is clear what is happening today in the national sparkling wine market.
Acácio Laranjo was a textile producer in the region with business in France who one day decided to bring with him a Moët & Chandon winemaker to develop a high quality product. And when you enter the cellars of the company, you immediately see the path that the tycoon wanted to take. Underground, in the 1940s, two hundred meters of corridors were opened with dynamite in the middle of the granite. It is an impressive work, the blue walls of the Murganheira cellars maintain a constant temperature of 12.3 degrees, whether summer or winter.
There are roughly three flavors of sparkling wine: sweet, medium-dry and raw. If Murganheira produces essentially raw products, Raposeira clearly bet on sweets, cheaper and with less risk of error, because liquors are able to rectify any flaw in the product. Founded in 1898, these are the oldest sparkling wine cellars in the country. They are also the biggest center of Portuguese production – and both the dimension and the history are understandable at the first impact.
Távora ‑ Varosa is not the most productive region in the country, but it is the one that produces the most certified sparkling wine, that is, with a designation of origin and quality assurance.