Independent wine merchants can taste wines from small producers encapsulating what modern Portugal does best when they visit SITT next week.

The tasting takes place at the Lancashire Country Cricket Club in Manchester on February 27 and RHS Lindley Hall in London on March 1.

It is a crucial tasting for both new and seasoned trade professionals, across the independent on- and off-trade sectors, and there is still time for indies to register.

It is a great opportunity for specialist importers of interesting, nuanced wines to target like-minded wine merchants that want to offer their customers something new and unusual.

One highlight will be the Portuguese Fine Wine Company, which has four producers from four key regions – Douro, Dao, Vinho Verde and Alentejo.

The company has only been going for nine months and sees SITT as an important time to convince the trade about the manifold wonders coming out of Portugal nowadays.

Director Matthew Bonner told OLN: “It’s harder to pick up the phone and sell Portuguese wine than pouring it and discussing it.

“People can appreciate the quality is incredible and it’s still good value. Our wines start at £9.99 and go up from there. They are small, artisanal producers and it is an opportunity for people to taste these fantastic wines from these small guys that are now really taking Portugal forward.

“It’s an exciting time. There is so much to choose from that is high quality and we are trying to show that to the trade. People are quite surprised at how little knowledge there is in the trade about Portuguese wines beyond the famous regions. There is great potential and the full range of styles. I don’t know any other country that does so many different styles to that quality.

“Our wines are excellent and really delicious. Our Vinho Verde is 100% Alvaninho. Spain has done really well with Albarino, but a lot of Alvarinho from Portugal is often better, fresher and with better acidity. People need to start taking Portugal really seriously and go beyond having that tick box of four or five wines.”

The Portuguese Fine Wine Company is targeting independent wine merchants and high-end restaurants that can tell the stories behind the wines and champion them among customers.

Bonner acknowledges that Portugal has long been tipped as a country about to truly crack the UK market, but a lack of focus has stopped it from really taking off in the mainstream.

He said: “It still needs focus and for the regions to pull together. The only ones that have had real UK success are Douro and to a lesser extent Vinho Verde, but the others don’t really have that presence.

“In supermarkets Portugal and Spain are still put together. You only see two or three Portuguese wines but the full gamut of Spanish wines. Portugal is a tick box. A lot of people aren’t prepared to go beyond offering one or two wines.”

But he added: “The quality is there and it is time to really take Portugal seriously.

The wines are critically acclaimed, Portugal is becoming a more popular weekend break destination and people are starting to order Portuguese wines more.”