Canela, a new Portuguese Restaurant and Wine Bar, is bringing the diverse and unique wines of Portugal to Covent Garden. On Thursday 26th June, Canela hosted a very special wine tasting that aimed to demonstrate the distinctions between the country’s two main growing regions; the Douro Valley in the North, and the Alentejo region in the South.

The charming and knowledgable Miguel Leal from Casa Leal, which specialises in premium Portugese wine, explained all the finer details of the regions and the wines. While the North is one of the oldest wine regions of the world, as old as Bordeaux, the vineyards in the South were mostly uprooted in the 70s because of the political turmoil and only replanted in the 80s. Climatically, the vineyards in the North are subjected to weather from the Atlantic coast and are generally at a higher latitude where the weather is fresher. In the South, the Mediteranean weather is warmer, producing wine with characteristics that are closer to the New World wines. Other differences such as harvesting and soil composition also provide contrast for the two regions.

On the evening, the North was represented by Queve Do Porto, a modern and forward thinking producer located in S. João da Pesqueira, a small town in the heart of Douro Valley. Both the white and red were present and the Oscar’s White had a refreshing acidity which makes a great summer aperitif. The Oscar’s red has a good depth of flavour and fruit but also a lightness, similar to a Pinot Noir.

Representing the South was Casa Agrícola HMR, a relatively young producer whose vineyards are situated in Marmelar, Vidigueira, a location with a centuries-old winemaking tradition dating back to Roman times and later pursued by the Knights Templar. Both the white and red 2012 Pousio wines were present. The Pousio white had a beautiful vanilla nose, a warmer, fuller body and less acidity compared to its Northern counterpart. The Pousio red in contrast is again deeper in flavour and warmer with more ripe fruits than the Northern red. And its Merlot like quality makes it a great companion to the Oscar’s red in comparing the regions.

After the tasting, there was an opportunity to sample Canela’s menu of regional classics and specialities alongside modern plates. The classic Bacalhau à Brás (salt cod, potatoes and eggs) is simple, full of flavour and well executed. It is best accompanied by the refreshing acidity of the Oscar’s white from the Douro valley.

With 256 varieties of indigenous grapes in Portugal, this wine tasting barely scratched the surface of what Portuguese wines have to offer. And what better place to explore more than Canela this summer with its airy dining room and alfresco seating and to watch the world go by in the heart of Covent Garden.

Canela Cafe: http://www.canelacafe.com/

Casa Leal: http://www.casaleal.co.uk/


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