Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

The Palace of Mateus near Vila Real just north of the douro Valley in northern Portugal lent its name to Mateus Rosé. Bottled in a flask not unlike the bocksbeutel, this medium-sweet, sparkling rosé blend became one of the world’s most famous wine brands. Created in 1942 by Fernando van Zeller Guedes, it was inspired by his family’s vinho verde, naturally pétillant red and white wines. The sparkling rosé was sweetened to make it more appealing to export markets. Production began at the end of the Second World War (at very much the same time as that of its rival lancers). It was originally successful in Brazil and, while that market collapsed after the war, the brand proved hugely popular in post-war Britain and then the US. At its peak in 1978, Mateus, by then supplemented by a white version, accounted for over 40% of Portugal’s total table wine exports with worldwide sales amounting to 3.5 million cases. A small quantity of Mateus Rosé is still made at Vila Real but most of the wine is now produced at Anadia in bairrada. Faced with falling sales of Mateus in the early 1990s, sogrape, the Guedes family firm which owns the Mateus brand, has diversified into other areas, including port. Surfing the wave of popularity enjoyed by rosés this century by launching a Mateus Rosé Tempranillo made in valencia, a pink Shiraz (sic) from France, and, in a break with tradition, two still varietally blended rosés bottled in Bordeaux bottles. The original Mateus blend is now labelled ‘The Original’.