La vie en rosé: Discover the Algarve’s wide ...

La vie en rosé: Discover the Algarve’s wide range of locally produced rosé wines

By: Alexandra Stilwell 

Photo: Quinta dos Santos

From light and crisp to complex blends with layered aromas, the Algarve’s rosé wines are the perfect pairing for this season

Once relegated to the poolside, rosé has become a respected wine that can be enjoyed year-round.

The fresh and fruity pink summer tipple has evolved into deliciously crisp wines with layers of delicate fruit and earthy notes that pair perfectly with the Algarve’s gastronomic specialities and aromatic Asian dishes. 

Back by popular demand 

In the Algarve, one grape variety is particularly well suited for making this pink wine. Shunned since time immemorial to make way for varieties that produced fuller-bodied wines, the Negra Mole is now celebrated as the region’s emblematic autochthonous grape.

Its renaissance started a decade ago with the production of single-varietal light-bodied reds “best served chilled, like a Pinot Noir”.

Today, winemakers recognise its potential and are also experimenting with it to make rosé 

Negra Mole

Exclusive to the Algarve, it is the second-oldest variety in Portugal, the first being Crato Branco (Syria or Roupeiro in other regions), also found in the Algarve. Its bunches of mixed red and white berries produce a naturally light-coloured juice, ideal for making lighter-bodied wines that are becoming increasingly more popular with consumers.  

Cabrita Wines ©Andy Mac Photography

One of the first wineries to help put Negra Mole back on the Portuguese wine map is Quinta da Vinha, in Lagoa, owned by the Cabrita family.

Second-generation producer José Manuel Cabrita is a forward-thinking man who saw the grape’s potential and pioneered producing a single varietal Negra Mole red. At his bustling winery, a kind of hub where small producers come to vinify their wines, he produces an excellent portfolio, which includes the Cabrita 2023 rosé (€9), a blend of Negra Mole and Touriga Nacional. Light in colour and body, this rosé has a fresh and fruity aroma. In the mouth, it is vibrant, with light floral notes and well-balanced acidity, making it an ideal pairing for white meats, sushi and seafood.  


Overlooking the Arade River in Silves, in a prime location, the terracotta-coloured Arvad winery has also invested in this native grape variety.

Having launched its first single varietal Negra Mole red in 2019, last year it toyed with the idea of making a Negra Mole rosé and produced a small quantity exclusively sold at the winery. Proving an instant success, this year, it produced 6,000 bottles of Negra Mole 2023 rosé (€17.50).

Similarly to its red counterpart, this delicate salmon-pink-coloured wine is presented in a clear bottle with a handwritten label. Produced in clay amphoras, this wine reveals subtle and elegant layered aromas dominated by cherry and wild berries complemented by distinctive and charming notes of clay, which give it a unique character. Elegant and smooth, this wine is vibrant and has a medium-long finish.  

Morgado do Quintão

At the neighbouring Morgado do Quintão, an idyllic boutique winery boasting a massive 2000-year-old olive tree, not only is the grape being revived, but it is used to make types of wines of bygone eras. The property was developed by the count of Silves, who planted his first vines at the end of the 19th century.

With tradition as one of their pillars, almost 200 years later, his descendants celebrate his legacy and the “real Algarve” with a modern twist on traditional wines, such as Palhete, a regional wine made with red and white grapes. Morgado do Quintão’s pale salmon-pink Palhete 2023 (€17.30) is a blend of Negra Mole and Crato Branco, the region’s star varieties. On the nose, it has white fruit and fresh strawberry notes and is saline and “crunchy” in the mouth. It is a dry and full-bodied wine, perfect for pairing with local fish and seafood dishes.   


Portugal’s reigning grape variety 

Presenting a fun and fresh image, Quinta do Barranco Longo was founded 24 years ago. Over this time, it has transformed into a modern winery with a focus on producing high-quality wines to enhance the reputation of the Algarve as a wine-producing region.

Its premium unoaked rosé is a single varietal Touriga Nacional (Portugal’s “queen variety”), characterised by floral and red fruit notes, making it a popular choice for rosés and aromatic red wines. The Touriga Nacional shines in the Blush Tête de Cuvée (€14.50) – a French term which essentially means that it is made from the first pressing of the grapes.

It is a light, salmon-coloured wine, presented in a modern bottle with a simple and evocative label. On the nose, it offers a rich aroma with notes of nectarine; in the mouth, it is fresh and creamy, revealing some minerality.  

Quinta dos Santos

Created by a South African family who decided to reconnect with its Portuguese roots, Quinta dos Santos is both a winery and a state-of-the-art brewery. This young and fun project produces a portfolio of excellent wines with grape varieties uncommon for the region, such as Bastardo and Sousão.

Quinta dos Santos

For their Escolhido rosé 2023 (€11.75), a beautiful pale-terracotta rosé, they have blended Negra Mole with the noble and more tannic Touriga Nacional, which brings a lovely balance to the wine, offering a fresh and enveloping palate. Thanks to a low-temperature fermentation process that preserves the rich, fruity characteristics of the grapes, it has delightful orange peel and cherry aromas. It is a wine to be enjoyed simply on its own or with fish, seafood and salads. 


The French touch 

The elegance and finesse of French winemaking shines through at Quinta do Francês – the Frenchman’s Farm – where viticulturist and winemaker Patrick Agostini and his wife Fátima have been crafting Bordeaux-inspired blends using a variety of Portuguese and international grapes since 2006.

Quinta do Francês

Reputed for its premium reds, the winery recently released its 2023 Quinta do Francês rosé (€7.65). This onion-skin-coloured wine is a complex blend of five red varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Trincadeira, Aragonês and Touriga Nacional. With aromas of raspberry, strawberry and subtle floral notes, it is a full-bodied and well-rounded gastronomic wine.

On the palate, notes of redcurrants, strawberries and green tea bring freshness and balanced acidity to a wine with a long and velvety finish. 

Breaking the mould 

The artistic Quinta dos Vales winery in Lagoa is renowned for its larger-than-life colourful statues created by owner Karl Heinz Stock and its wide range of reds, whites, and rosés.

Quinta dos Vales

Breaking away from tradition, the winery has been experimenting with unexpected blends since its inception. Among its selection of rosés is the premium DUO rosé 2023 (€14.90), a blend of Syrah and Touriga Franca, of which just 2,260 bottles were produced.

Touriga Franca, also known as Touriga Francesa (French Touriga), is one of the major grape varieties used to make Port wine. Lighter and more floral than the Touriga Nacional, with aromas of roses and wildflowers, it adds finesse to the wine, while the Syrah gives it body and rich flavours of dark berries and peppercorn. A delicious DUO, greater than the sum of its parts. 

In Silves, located on a red sandstone hilltop close to the river, Quinta dos Sentidos is the creation of a Swiss-Danish couple who have dedicated themselves to producing small quantities of premium wines and cultivating a bountiful orchard.

Quinta dos Sentidos

To reveal their rich and versatile terroir, they uniquely vinify each wine and name them after the five senses. The Visão rosé 2023 (€15) – Vision rosé – is a blend of Aragonez (also known as Tempranillo) and Tinta Caiada, a variety with good acidity and pleasant aromas of ripe fruit with herbaceous notes. Presented in a clear bottle with a minimalistic label, this light, salmon-pink rosé with delicate aromas of red fruit is highly versatile, exotic and very dry. In the mouth, it reveals its freshness, vivacity and elegant structure. Its low alcohol content (11%) makes it perfect as an aperitif or to accompany light dishes.  



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