Bucelas is the capital of Arinto and one of the smallest demarcated regions in the country. An amazing wine region in the outskirts of Lisbon
It is really a shame that I have traveled all over the world visiting wine countries and traveled Portugal from north to south and never had been to Bucelas wine region… But it finally happened!
About half an hour away from the city of Lisbon, Bucelas is a very special wine sub-region. Considered a demarcated region since 1911, this one has the Arinto as its “queen grape” and it is from this white grape variety that all its D.O.C. wines are produced.
There are some clues to indicate that the Phoenicians and Romans already cultivated Arinto in this area. But it is known, with certainty, that it was a wine highly appreciated by personalities like Duke of Wellington or even by Shakespeare who mentions it in his play Henrique VI.
The distinctive Bucelas wine did not go unnoticed by the portuguese writer Eça de Queiroz, who described it as “Magnificent” in Os Maias.
BUCELAS WINE MUSEUM
To learn more about the region, I decided to take a guided tour of the museum (guided tours are optional and on request) which pays an excellent tribute to Bucelas and its Arinto grape.
The guide told me not only the history of the region but also mentioned important topics related to viticulture and winemaking techniques common to the whole country.
The Bucelas Wine Museum also has a very fun and interactive part! It is a room with illustrations on the walls alluding to the different phases of wine process, from the work of the vineyard, the harvest, the operation of the cellar and finally the tasting.
When we face the illustrations them with an application – on a museum tablet or installed on our smartphone – the illustrations come to life, and small animated videos show the visitor more about each phase.
The museum also has a shop where you can buy not only wines and sparkling wines from all D.O.C Bucelas producers but also from the other two regions of the route: Colares and Carcavelos.
CASA DE NOSSA SENHORA DA PACIÊNCIA
This is actually the family home of João Camilo Alves, an inseparable name for the region.
But curiously, this name, now so associated with wine, started out as a barber. He had such fame in his shop that many people moved from Lisbon to Bucelas so that João could cut their hair. It was here that the barber found a business opportunity and started selling wine while trimming beards for you.
One day wine proved to be more profitable than the barber shop and João Camilo Alves’ life changed course.
In the 1930’s, he created the company Caves Velhas, which is still active today – now by the hand of Enoport United Wines – making this company the oldest white wine producer and bottler in Bucelas.
The Casa de Nossa Senhora da Paciência is currently being managed by the great-grandson Vasco Camilo Alves and in addition to local accommodation, it is also a space for wine tasting, wine lunches and dinners and other events.
On the day I visited this house, lunch was served with Enoport wines, of course, but also by a delicious Morgado de Bucelas. This wine is from the producer Boas Quintas, which despite producing wine essentially in Dão, could not resist coming to Bucelas to create an excellent Arinto.
QUINTA DAS CARRAFOUCHAS
For just a few meters, Quinta das Carrafouchas is not inserted in the demarcated wine region of Bucelas… But if you are visiting the area, then you cannot miss it!
This homestead dates from the 18th century and remains the property of the Cannas family from the mid-19th century to the present day.
António Maria is a host with a very unique style just like the wines he produces. A man who makes wines out of passion, as he likes and own pleasure. He showed us all the corners of the family farm and the Baroque style manor house.
In the vineyards that surround the manor house, the inevitable Arinto is planted, but also the red grape varieties Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz.
Also at Quinta das Carrafouchas wine events and lunches are organized in a courtyard directly in front of the vineyards. It was there that António Maria let us taste his Quinta das Carrafouchas white 2017 and red 2013.
Although this region is famous for the white wine, I fell in love with this red. It does not seem to be the age it is, it is a wine full of life, flavor and strength that, if I haven’t almost finishing the bottle, it would still remain fantastic for a few more years!
Other producers that I have not visited, or that are not yet open to wine tourism, but whose wines I highly recommend tasting: Viúva Quintas and Morgado de Santa Catherina. Both represent the Bucelas Arinto in all its expression.
This is a grape with a lot of personality, producing dry wines, very aromatic and with an excellent acidity, which means they can be enjoyed very young, but improve a lot with age.
I loved getting to know this region and I will certainly return, for the Arinto wines and much more!