Wines of Tejo hosted its first post-pandemic trade and press tasting in the UK. Held at 67 Pall Mall on the 23rd of April, the tasting showcased a selection of wines from Tejo, one of the oldest winemaking regions in Portugal which shares its name with the majestic river which flows through the heart of the vineyards. The event highlighted the potential of Tejo to become a rising star of the Portuguese offering in the UK, with its diversity of styles equally at home in the on-trade as in the off-trade. The region’s range of wines, which focus on freshness and moderate alcohol levels, proved a hit with buyers looking for the vinous holy trinity of quality, sustainability and exceptional value across all price points.

Winemakers and producers were joined by attendees from across the trade including importers, retail buyers, sommeliers, educators and press – testament to the growing and industry-wide interest in this lesser-known Portuguese region. With 11 producers in attendance – 7 of which are seeking representation here in the UK, the tasting exemplified the region’s forward-thinking focus and showed how its close-knit winemaking community is committed to changing the narrative around Tejo wines.

Located just 30 minutes inland from Lisbon, Tejo’s proximity to this popular, international capital means that winemakers here have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to wine trends and are well placed to respond to market needs, creating wines with the contemporary palate in mind. Recognising the increasing demand for wines which offer quality, authenticity, sustainability and exceptional value, Tejo’s producers are combining modern winemaking methods with their viticultural heritage and natural climatic and geographic assets.

One headline grabbing project that featured at the tasting was the Campo do Tejo wine range – a collaborative venture between a group of the region’s grape growers and wineries, which collectively created a range of wines based on Tejo’s flagship native white grape variety, Fernão Pires. These wines offer a distinctively refreshing and vibrant style, feature lower-than-average alcohol levels, and are presented in a lighter weight bottle – all big ticks when it comes to current customer demands.

The tasting also showcased the diversity of the region, which is rich in history, olive groves, cork forests and the famous Lusitano horses. Winemakers here can successfully produce wines from an array of indigenous varietals – including the versatile and Tejo’s most widely planted white grape, Fernão Pires, as well as international varietals. The region can offer both affordable, fruit driven styles mainly from the fertile alluvial soils next to the river, as well as more complex, estate wines grown at higher elevations on the terraces, or ‘charneca’.

Master of Wine, Dirceu Vianna Junior, who hosted two masterclasses on the day – one on the exciting indigenous varietals of the Tejo and another exploring its various terroirs and micro-climates, shared that ‘Despite a long relationship with Portuguese wines, I have only been exposed to Tejo wines recently. I have been surprised by the quality, wide range of styles, and excellent value for money that wines from Tejo offer to the consumer at all price points, from every-day drinking wines to super-premium icons. Ideal growing conditions guarantee high quality fruit, the river ensures freshness and skilled young winemakers are doing an excellent job to express Tejo’s own sense of place. The journey to Tejo’s well-deserved recognition has begun and it is exciting.

Luis de Castro, President of the CVR Tejo added ‘We are delighted to be back in the UK after a five-year hiatus and even more delighted with the reception our wines received from those who joined us at the tasting. Our focus over the past decade has been on producing higher quality and a distinctive style of wines, and as a result Tejo wines now receive regular recognition by the top international wine critics and competitions. Thanks to the diversity and exceptional value of Tejo wines, they can sit as comfortably on a restaurant wine list, as on a retail shelf and we’re committed to working with the trade here to enable more UK consumers to discover our region’s diverse and distinctive wines’.

A link to the tasting programme with the full list of wines and producers who attended can be found here.