Portuguese whites '“Â wine column
Apparently the fashionableÂ city to visit this year for a weekend break is Lisbon, taking itsÂ place alongside Paris, Rome and Barcelona, says Alisair Gibson.Â
I visited the portÂ region and there is no doubt the pound goes further in PortugalÂ but there is more to it than that.
It'sÂ one of the oldest cities in the world, predating London, Rome and Paris by hundreds ofÂ years.
There's lots of history andÂ it has gained a serious foodie reputation.
But if you're planning a weekend in Lisbon whatÂ are you going to drink?
Port is, of course, Portugal's most famous wine and the red winesÂ of the Douro, DÃ£o and Alentejo are becoming increasingly recognised here in the UK.Â
ButÂ white wine is perhaps not what most consumersÂ associate with thisÂ Iberian country.
Vinho verde or '˜young wine' is one ofÂ the best-known Portuguese white wines.
The region is located in the cool north-west ofÂ the country, close to the Spanish boarder from where Spain's famous albariÃ±o isÂ produced.
It takes its name from the fact that it's traditionally bottled and made for earlyÂ consumption,Â generally released three to sixÂ months after the harvest.
The wines areÂ generally relatively low in alcohol and many are bottled with a slight spritz which makesÂ them particularly well-suited to summer sipping.
Porta 6 Vinho Verde 2017 (MajesticÂ Â£8.99 but Â£7.99 if part of a mixed six) is a recent addition to Majestic's very successfulÂ Porta 6 Portuguese range.
It's made from a blend of local grapes, loureiro, trajadura and arinto and is a good starting place if you've not tasted vinho verde before.
It's very pale,Â almost green in colour, with notes of apple and citrus on the noseÂ followed by a very freshÂ palate with the classic touch of spritz.
It has aÂ zesty acidity and maybe just a hint ofÂ sweetness on the finish.
It's only 9.5 per centÂ and doesn't take itself too seriously.
Altogether a bit more serious is Quinta deÂ Azevedo Loureiro Alvarinho 2017, Vinho Verde (thefinewinecompany.co.uk Â£51.02Â for six).
Alvarinho is the Portuguese name for albariÃ±o and this brings a little more of theÂ weight often found in Spanish albariÃ±os from just across the border. The nose opens upÂ to reveal lime, orange blossom and a touch of apricot, the palate is quite ripe with citrusÂ and a touch of minerality before a nice crisp finish.
This is bottled without the classic vinho verde spritz and as such it makes a more interesting wine to match with food, tryÂ this with poached salmon.
We're moving south of Lisbon to the warmer Alentejano region now.Â
Terra d'Alter Fado 2017, Alentejano (The Wine Society Â£7.75) is a blend of local grapes sÃria and arinto with a little viognier.
Made in quite a modern style, it has lemon and pear fruits onÂ the nose, followed by a fresh citrus palate with a touch of apricot and orange on the finishÂ with well-balanced acidity.
Match this with some freshly grilled sardines while you thinkÂ of Lisbon.