The town of Anadia, in Portugal’s Bairrada region, is hosting the sparkling wine session of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. Judges will evaluate sparkling wines from across the globe in the Bairrada Wine Museum from 1 to 3 July 2022.
People often forget that Portugal is the European Union’s fifth largest wine producing country. Suffice it to say that the western side of the Iberian Peninsula is home to a treasure trove of absolute gems just waiting to be discovered. Bairrada is a DOC set in the region of Beiras, in central Portugal. It is renowned for its rich, deeply coloured red wines made from the Baga, Castelão, Alfrocheiro, Camarate and Rufete grape varieties. Beiras is a fairly extensive region, stretching from the Atlantic coast to the border with Spain. It was one of the country’s first regions to adopt and explore sparkling wines, a style that is still popular in the region. The cool, damp climate promotes production of this particular style, providing grapes that have high acidities and low alcohol.
The Baga grape variety is currently experiencing a revival in Bairrada. The grape variety, erstwhile renowned for its powerful tannins, has now attracted a strong following and single varietals are enjoying commercial success. Even in the United States, consumers seem to have finally realised the unique characters and specific qualities of Baga in a wine world that is increasingly standardised. The grape variety is also extremely versatile – from sparkling wines to rosés via age-worthy offerings, it offers multiple facets. The more Baga struggles and the lower its yields, the higher the quality. In this respect, it is comparable to other prime grape varieties such as Nebbiolo in Piedmont and Pinot noir in Burgundy. The new generation of winegrowers, embodied by producers such as Luis Gomes of Giz, Luis Patrao of Vadio Wines and Filipa Pato of PatoWouters, is primarily focusing on local grape varieties, using less extraction and more importantly, being more selective in their choice of sites and soils to plant traditional grape varieties. This is especially true of Baga, a very versatile variety, which changes depending on whether the soil is limestone or clay-limestone and how exposed the vineyard is to the Ocean or protected by the Serra de Caramulo. They have made it their mission to provide a genuine, transparent image of the region with unique character by making clean, generous, pure wines. White wines made from Bica, Cercial and Arinto also offer some very successful examples. The finest wines have a lifespan that can reach 30 years, due to their tannins and very high acidity. The wine styles should also be set within their historical food context. Mealhada, one of the region’s best known towns, is popular for its spit-roasted suckling pig (leitão). Refreshing wines with substantial acidity are required to cut through the rich flavours and high fat content of the meat, which is where the region’s sparkling wines and tannic, Baga-based wines come into their own.
Discover the region
As Portugal’s largest producer of sparkling wine, it is no accident that the Bairrada region should host the dedicated session of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. Open indiscriminately to all sparkling and semi-sparkling wines in the 3 colours, irrespective of whether they are dry, medium dry or sweet. Held in June, this session will showcase the variety of sparkling wines available in terms of origin, expression and typicity.
About the competition :
The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is an international competition where over 10,000 wines are entered by producers to be tasted and judged by a panel of experts. Our experienced wine tasters judge the competing wines with a single-minded purpose, and that is to select wines of irreproachable quality with no biases stemming from the label or an appellation’s prestige. The competition is one of the leading events of its kind in the world.