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New Portuguese brand stresses region not country

Portugal’s biggest producer is firing the first shot in the battle to get the country recognised on the world stage – with a new wine called Callabriga.

Sogrape – which produces wines in the Dao, Douro, Alentejo and Vinho Verde regions of Portugal, as well as the multi-million-selling and multinational Mateus Rosé – launches Callabriga in the UK next week.

The new brand consists of two wines, one produced in the Douro, the other further south in Alentejo. Both have Tinta Roriz in common, plus two other varieties unique to their region. (Tinta Roriz is the Portuguese name for Tempranillo. In Alentejo it is known as Aragones).

The wine’s labels are colour coded, predominantly blue for the Douro wine, and orange-brown for the Alentejo.

In a new move, Sogrape have decided the stress should be on region not country. To this end, the words ‘Wines of Portugal’ are given far less prominence on the label than ‘Douro’ or ‘Alentejo’.

The idea, Sogrape spokesman Vasco Magalhaes said, is to produce ‘an answer to the new world, where there is a gradual trend away from the varietal to concentrate on brand, and region.’

The wine, priced at £7.99, is aimed at specialist stores, wine clubs and more specialist high street outlets. Stevens Garnier Oxford is the main distributor.

Sogrape are not necessarily aiming at supermarkets – hence a price tag that could be seen as ambitious.

One industry observer, who had tasted the wine, said, ‘It is delicious, but £7.99 is an incredibly difficult price to sell anything at, particularly a new brand in a supermarket. But if they are not aiming at multiples, then that is more reassuring.’

Sogrape president Salvador Guedes said, ‘We are launching at £7.99 because we don’t want to enter the market too low and then have to go up in price. We are in no hurry.’

Callabriga Douro and Callabriga Alentejo will be launched in London on Monday October 17.

  • Waitrose wine buyer Nick Room adds, ‘It’s a brave effort. The packaging is bold, with the different colours for different regions. I think the Douro wine is better than the Alentejo one, which seems greenish to me, when I would have expected the Alentejo to produce a riper, more supple style. The Douro Callabriga is an upmarket wine. The price tag is not quite the right pitch, but generally I think there’s potential for all the wines Sogrape produce under this label.’

    Written by Adam Lechmere

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