The charming and picturesque town of Sintra, located about a half hour west of Lisbon, is a popular destination for travelers. Most visitors are drawn by the many historic sites located in this small town, including the stunning hilltop Pena Palace, the historic Sintra Palace in the town center, or the Quinta da Regaleira palace.
But many would be surprised to learn that nestled on the coastline between the hills of Sintra and the Atlantic Ocean is Portugal’s smallest and most distinct wine region. The Colares wine region is the second oldest demarcated wine region in Portugal, and the history of wine making in this region dates back to the Roman Empire. The vines are planted very close to the ground in sand trenches, with roots that can be 26 ft. deep. This unique growing environment saved the Colares wine region from becoming extinct when the phylloxera wine bug devastated nearly every vineyard in Europe in the late 19th C. The vines proved to be a deterrent to the insects, as they were unable to feed on the deep roots.
Despite overcoming the threat of total extinction in the late 1800s, the Colares wine region faced a different threat in the 1980s and 90s that was man-made. A strong surge in property development in the Sintra area resulted in a significant decline in the number of vineyards in the region. There has been a bit of a rebound in recent years, with vines now covering about 50 acres and more continuing to be planted. Interest in the wine has also increased, but given the low volume of production your best opportunity for sampling this unique wine will be in the region itself.
To highlight the wines of this unique region, the Tivoli Palacio de Seteais Hotel in Sintra has created the Seteais Colares DOC room for wine tastings. The elegant room is furnished with decorations from the Regional de Colares Winery. The menu includes wine tastings with either 2 or 3 Colares wines accompanied by a selection of tapas. The tasting lasts around 30-45 minutes and is offered from 3pm – 6pm. A dinner tasting menu with wine pairings is also offered. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance and are subject to availability.
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