Portugal buyers' trip: Peter Ingram

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On the back of the Harpers buyers’ trip through Portugal’s Alentejo, Tejo and Peninsula de Setúbal regions, Peter Ingram, buyer for Vagabond Wines, tells Harpers what stood out for him and why he sees the indigenous variety as the country’s strength.


What were your preconceptions of Portugal before the trip and how did these change?

I already had a pretty high opinion of Portuguese reds before the trip but was very aware that they needed a bit of selling as most customers haven’t come across the quality end Portuguese wines. Being able to offer samples makes a huge difference and I think in a more traditional shop most sales would be limited to regulars with whom the staff have built a relationship and trust.


What is your overall impression of the wines coming out of the region?

The wines were excellent and offered good value in general. The whites in particular were eye openers, standing up to the reds in terms of quality but with a more distinctive character unlike any wines I have tried outside Portugal.


Were there any particular producers or wines that stood out for you?

I was particularly impressed with Herdade da Comporta – while all the wineries had great wines on offer, I think the quality and value of the wines, backed up with strong branding was very good and the depth of the range was very good.


How has the trip made you consider your Portuguese offering differently?

I will looking to increase the offering, particularly of whites, and think with a concerted push, backed with a couple of tastings, we can generate a real interest and hopefully lasting traction, I will look to do this late spring 2013.


What did you learn from the trip and what knowledge will you be imparting to customers?

The diversity of styles within a relatively small area is impressive but the main message is look for the indigenous grapes as this is where I felt the quality lay. I will for the main part try to let the wines speak for themselves in the first instance and try to communicate the story of the wineries and region after they have decided, I have always found a story is a good selling tool but the wine must be able to speak for itself if we are to get enduring interest. I think some of the wines we tasted are able to do this very well.

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