This blog is about wine! Its also a little bit about food, other drinks and tastes in general. Most of all it is about the fun of discovering something new: starting a company and the journey of combining your favorite hobby with business. This is a tongue-in-cheek wine blog, but we hope both the more and less experienced can find something inspirational in what we write about.
In the start of our journey towards being a reputable wine merchant, M and I made a product strategy. We would have wines in our selection that A. we liked to drink ourselves (who else would empty all the leftover stock) and B. would be affordable to a large group of people. Due to the high costs of logistics and taxes, we will never be a cheap shop, but we will offer wines from a reasonable (to our opinion) price range of 100-300 SEK a bottle. So Primus, though it was said to be excellent, was not on the initial list.
However, that was before we actually had the chance to enjoy a full bottle with some winecurious friends. The Primus is something unique and something that I would almost invest a small fortune in, and let me tell you why:
Alvaro Castro the winemaker at Quinta da Pellada has drawn a lot of his inspiration from Cardoso de Vilhena, who for a long time was the head enologist at the Centro de Estudos Vitivinícolas de Nelas (CEN) in the Dão region. Alvaro claims to have learned almost everything from him and the 1964 white wine from Vilhena is the finest wine Alvaro ever tasted. Primus is his attempt to copy that wine.
The wine is an old field blend from a wide range of grapes handpicked from 65 year old vines that have grown on granite soils. The wine has been slowly fermented in oak barrels for two months and then an additional 3 months in old oak barrels being stirred on the lees. Before it is relaesed it spends two years in the bottle.
The blend includes a variety of grapes among them, Cercial, Bical, Verdelho, Málvasia, Terrantez, Cachorrinho, Douradinha and many more. The main grape is, however, called Encruzado, which is undoubtedly the finest white grape variety in Portugal. It is grown maily in the granite hills of Dao in the center of the country and makes rich, full-bodies wines with aromas of lemon, woody herbs and melon (mmm).
The Primus is a rich wine with notes of melon and floral overtones. The taste is slightly oxidized, but in a fresh way, and has hints of dried tropical fruit, like pineapple, pleasant citrus and nice acidity. The mouth feel is full and slightly waxy making Primus an excellent partner with white meats (we ate lightly marinated chicken). Especially M is often not a huge fan of white wines, but the Primus and Encruzado-wines in general are amongst his favorites. This is a wine that will age well up to five or ten years if one can just be patient enough not to drink it.
And coming to the price, we are talking about an average of 35-45€ depending on the year. The quality is a 4.5, but what is the value for money? The price is a bit over my limit for what I have been prepared to pay for white wines before. But what I can see happening is an epiphany. A striking realization that I have not dug in deep enough with white wines to state a roof price. This already happened with bubblies three years back, when I stepped over my 20€ limit and started sinking in to the world of champagnes (and premium cava). Perhaps it is time for me to take that step with white wines.
What do you say? What would be your limit for prices on white wine, and do you believe that a pearl like the Primus would be interesting to the wider public? In Sweden, the price would climb from the levels of Portugal and I doubt we would be able to sell it (if we actually want to make some profit) for less than 400 SEK a bottle. Would you buy six bottles if you would really like it? Help me out! No, help Primus out! And let me know if this wine should make it to the Winecurious selection.
When I started this blog, it was meant to be about the business. The business of selling wine that is (Introduction to the journey here). Along the way I started writing more about other wines and restaurants. I like getting tips about new places, so it was mostly about sharing it with fellow foodies and the wine curious. There is not that much to write about the company to really fill a blog (yet). However, today I would like to move the focus back to the business and write about something exciting, our new selection.
Our business started around one excellent product, the Llagrima d’Or cava. We did our research on the Swedish market and came to the conclusion that this product would fill a gap. A premium cava was not unheard of, however the selection was (and is) weak. The selection may still satisfy the masses, but not the quality conscious consumer who does not want his/her cava pumped up with sugar to hide the compromises made with the production. Small producers are often artists, they make something that they can be proud of and want to have on their own table every weekday and the weekend (in Spain cava is an every day drink). These small producers however do not have the volumes to make it into the shelf’s of (one of) the worlds largest buyer (Systembolaget).
After two years of planning, sampling, paperwork and some personal investment, we have moved forward. Next week our updated web shop will feature five new and exciting producers from Spain and Portugal: Rimarts, Cellers Carol Valles, Antonio Madeira, Quinta do Escudial and Quinta da Pellada. All of our new partners are small, family owned vineyards with a vision and a passion for making honest wines. With honest we mean that the wines have a minimal amount (if any) added sugar, they are mostly produced without any oak (or at least without excessive use of it) and often with as natural processes as possible. The focus is on good ingredients and no compromises on the time or effort that it takes to make the wines. We have visited them all, roamed around their vineyards and spent hours studying their production. Not to mention all the hard work we have done with trying out their wines (*smirk*). So here are a few teasers on our upcoming selection and we will be writing more about each producer the coming weeks.
1. Rimarts is a company owned by two brothers, Richard and Ernest. They have learned the fine art of making cava by following in their father’s footsteps and are today using the same equipment for their production as he did back in the day. When touring the Rimarts cellars, Ernest was joking about all the other kids going out to play football while he and his brother had to sit in with their dad and bottle cava. The Rimarts wines are disgorged by hand and all except for the the 18 month cava (which has a very small dosage) have no sugar added. Our initial selection will feature three different bubblies from them, the Rimarts 18 month (Brut Reserva), 24 month (Reserva Brut Nature) and 40 month (Gran Reserva Brut Nature) cavas.
2. When we pulled into the drive way of Cellers Carol Valles, we felt like we were entering someones home. That’s because we were. Joan Carol greeted us with the family dog and a boy from the neighboring house to translate from Catalan to English. He had fit a very impressive production line in the cellar of his family home and greeted visitors in a small tasting house next to the living quarters. He told us that most of his cava is sold at that property with hundreds of locals stopping by every now and then to fill up their cellars. He houses an impressive selection where even the entry level wine is a Reserva Brut Nature. Our selection for the summer will include the Parellada i Faura (Reserva Brut Nature, the Guillem Carol Extra Brut and Brut Nature (Gran Reservas) and the Guillem Carol Gran Reserva Barrica (a cava with a light oaky flavor).
3. A Frenchman with a Portuguese descent Antonio Madeira is the rising star of Dão. He currently sells just one wine (more are coming) and he makes it well with natural techniques (no additives or pesticides). Antonio has a vision, he wants to bring out the terroir in his wine and he seeks out old vines to do this in the best manner. Our selection will feature, surprise surprise, his best (and only) wine, a light and sophisticated red made from old vine. As with many older vineyards in Portugal, there is an abundance of grape varieties growing in the field so the exact number of grape varieties is not easy to get to.
4. Feeling that there was something missing from the market, Quinta do Escudial is producer making solely no-oak wines. It is a family business to the core. The wine is made by the father of the family, the finances are handled by his wife and sales by their son. Our selection will be featuring their Branco (white), Tinto (red) and the Vinhas Velhas (old vine red). When we visited them we sampled the full range of wines and these are truly extraordinary wines that really proves that it is not necessary to use oak to make fine Portuguese wines. These wines are really nice in the way that they are all great on their own as well as with food.
5. Alvaro Castro, the owner of Quinta da Pellada is ‘The’ winemaker who brought Dão back on the wine-map. Originally a civil engineer he inherited his family’s vineyards in the 1980s and changed profession awakening a family tradition that had been dormant for a generation. Today his daughter Maria is also very much active in the business and she will ensure to carry the family tradition on. Our selection will be featuring wines from the vineyard the family lives on, Quinta de Saes. We will have the Saes Red, The Quinta de Saes Rose (for the summer) and the Encruzado White. They also have several other brands and we hope to expand our cooperation with them in the future as their high-end wines really deserve an audiance and once tasted it is difficult to not just want more of them.
All in all, we are increasing our selection from two excellent wines to 17: nine cavas, five reds, two whites and one rose. Some wines are available in very limited quantities (due to the small production) so orders will be processed in the order they come in.
All in all, I think we have managed to create a good selection. We have a working supply chain, a logo, website and enough samples. What you can really see is that this company has been put together by two procurement professionals, with a high emphasis on the back end of the supply chain, contracts and working partners; and an entertaining lack of focus on sales. So now we are really stepping out of our comfort zone and introducing to the world what we have done. We are hoping that good quality will sell it’s self, and in time our customers will learn to trust our judgement.
However, this will not come free and to give it a push we are arranging an open house tasting next week Saturday in Stockholm to introduce our wines. In case you are interested in joining, then send us a message to email@example.com. This will be the best sales period (yet) for our company yet, and I am looking forward to all of the feedback people can give us about our new selection.
It is Sunday again! But as with many other weeks, this Sunday is not the end of the holiday. A Sunday that does not feel like a Sunday – that’s great! We have been spending a long weekend in Helsinki, the city where I lived the first 30 years of my life. We had a wonderful agenda with meetings with old friends and of course wine, but that had to unfortunately be reorganized as we caught the bug just one day after landing. Before one might have risked it and just soldiered through with the flu, but now with many of my friends having small kids, we did not want anyone to have to share our misfortune. We did feel much better after a few days, so it was wining and dining for just the two of us, myself and M (and of course coffee)
I was not as well prepared as I usually am with reservations (as we were not supposed to have time to go out), but it seemed that people were out of town, so we got lucky and were able to visit some new cool places. We had dinner at Soil Wine Bar, a new wine bar and tapas restaurant on Fredrikinkatu. I met up with an old friend at Bronda for a glass of bubbly, and me and M also tried out the wine selection (and food) at Sinne Helsinki and VinVin on Saturday night. A pretty good round for such a short time, and I think I have found a few new favorites that we will for sure visit again on coming trips. Two of the places, Sinne and VinVin place clearly in my top-three wine bars in Helsinki, Soil Wine Room coming only a few steps behind (perhaps only due to the cramped space, the wine selection was really nice). Bronda does not place amongst the best places for wine, but it is a cool restaurant and I appreciate that they had something by the glass for the winecurious, not only main stream boring Champagne (Billecart-Salmon) and Prosecco (I didn’t even look). However, the glass of Clement Perseval Champagne had a high price tag (21€), so that is one of the reasons I would recommend to get your bubbly somewhere else. All good places that I would recommend trying out (I will review them all separately in future posts).
Tonight we are also sampling something special, a Quinta do Escudial Red (2009) that we brought back from our trip to Portugal a month ago. M wrote a long post about his visit with the producer (here), so I will not get into that. However, I can say that the wine is excellent! A light mix of Touriga National, Alfrocheiro, Jaeb and Tinta Roriz. No oak has been used in the ageing of the wine, however or perhaps thanks to, it still has character and a nice long finish. This wine would go great with some barbecue, but it can also be enjoyed on its own. We are very impressed by the producer and hope to be working with them in the future.
So that was it for the wineweek. The coming week we will be at home, finishing off the orders for our April window and sampling some more good wine. We might even pop into Matkonsulatet for a bite one evening. Now that I am looking back at the past week with some unexpected (and unwanted) days of taking it slow, we were still able to make the best of it and it was not such a bad wineweek after all.
It is a gray and rainy day in Stockholm. The kind of day when you just want to stay inside and huddle under a blanket. So here I am, sitting in my comfy chair and reminiscing about the wineweek. It has been since long that we have just been at home. Travel has become (perhaps it has always been) a big part of our lives, so it feels great to be still now and then. It has however not been an eventless week. We opened our first order window for Sweden in a year, received our new logo and we tasted some pretty awesome wines over the week and weekend. I have already been advertising the opened sales window quite a lot (and this will not be the last of it) so perhaps better stick to the weeks wine adventures in this Sundays edition. If you are interested in having a look at the selection for this spring you can visit our website.
On Wednesday we opened a bottle to celebrate our opening of March sales. It was a Parellada i Faura Brut Nature Cava from Cellers Carol Valles. This is one of the small producers we met last week in Penedes. This was their entry level Cava, a Reserva nevertheless, and it was wonderful. You could taste the freshness of the grape trio: Parellada, Macabeo and Xarello combined with some toastiness after a while of oxidation. This is a producer we are very interested in and hope to be working together soon. In Barcelona we also tried some of their Grand Reservas, a brut nature and an extra brut, and they were awesome.
Parellada i Faura Brut Nature Cava
Our new logo
Yesterday we took a day off (it is not that easy as wine is never completely work free) and headed to Magnusson Fine Wine, a private club and wine cellar in Östermalm. One of our friends is a member there and he invited us for a Charles Heidsieck Champagne tasting. Here is the lineup:
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV
Charles Heidsieck Brut Millesime 2005
Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires 1995
The wine cellar at Magnusson
Charles Heidsieck tasting
I must say I am now sold when it comes to Charles Heidsieck as a producer. The Millesime 2005 was excellent (but perhaps could age well for some 5 to 10 years more) and the Blanc de Millenaires 95 was great as well (not sure about the value for money though). But what is the best part is that their non vintage Brut Reserva did not fall far behind the vintages. I am looking forward to writing more about it later, but I must say that it is great value for money. Currently you can take home a bottle of the Brut Reserve for 459 SEK (the Monopoly) which is ok. However, it is often available for an even better price on the Viking Line boats sailing between Stockholm and both Turku and Helsinki in Finland. We just noticed that Viking Line has “Bubbly weeks” on the boats all of May, and there the Charles Heidsieck Champagnes are available for very juicy prices, the NV for 339 SEK. I don’t usually travel with the boats (they are not called “party boats” for nothing), but now we found ourselves already browsing for some day trips to Åland (an island in between Finland and Sweden).
We also tried a sample that we brought home from Portugal, a bottle of Antonio Madeira 2012 red. This is a very interesting and inspiring producer from the Dão region, whom only makes this one wine from old vineyards he has sought out. He attempts to find vineyards that have only very old vines as he believes this will produce the best results and after trying this one I am not one to disagree with him. His wine was very light, French inspired (the producer is half French), almost like a Pinot Noir. Absolutely something that would fit our selection of small producer wines. I think we might need to give Antonio a call.
We also popped out for a very nice brunch this morning at the Black Swan, a gastro pub along the water at Liljeholmen (or Liljeholmskajen as the real estate agents want you to call it) in the southern part of Stockholm. We didn’t have any wine (although they do have Lanson as their house champagne by the glass so not ruling it out), but I was very impressed by the brunch, so will perhaps write a few rows about it later next week.
Antonio Madeira Red Vinhas Velhas
Pancakes at Black Swan
That was it for the wineweek. Next week will be Easter and we will be travelling again, this time to Finland to see my family. There will be some nice food, reunions with friends and I suspect some wine. The good part about drinking wine and blogging is that you can do it (almost) from any part of the world.
There is no doubt in my mind that Álvaro Castro is one of the top wine makers in Portugal. He makes an impressive range of wines in his different Quintas in the Dão region.
Alvaro de Castro is an engineer who inherited the vineyards in 1980. At that time he decided to dedicate himself fully to the wine business and restore the family tradition of producing wines. His first vintage was produced in 1989. Today he also works closely with his daughter Maria Castro.
I am sometimes struggling to grasp the range of wines that Alvaro produces. He has two main brands and that are Quinta da Saes and Quinta da Pellada but also a large variety of special projects like Carousel, Primus, PAPE, Doda (in cooperation with Dirk Niepoort) as well as his entry level wines under the Saes name. Wine production has ancient roots at Quinta de Saes. There are even records from 1527 of tax paid in wine from the Quinta and the Quinta as such dates back at least to 1258 when the earliest references of it can be found.
The vines at the different vineyards range in age from a few years up to 65 years old. As it is in Dão there is no surprise that it is planted in the hills, the average altitude is around 550 meters. The area is close to highest mountain range of Portugal and the national park of Serra d’Estrela and it also means that the vineyards are not planted in the regular pine tree surrounded clearings. The total area amounts to more than 60 hectares. The soil is granite with rows of sand and clay. They have more than 30 varietals planted but some of the bigger ones are Alfrocheiro, Cercial, Encruzado, Jaen , Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional
I struggled a bit to find the place as there are no real signs for it once reaching the approximate location given by the GPS. I did however by chance see something that looked like some wine barrels and decided to turn into the yard there and luckily it was enough. I was greeted by Álvaro’s daughter Maria (and the three friendly dogs following her) so I knew I was in the right place. She informed me that most people need to ask for directions in the little village close by.
Maria told me to leave my little Citroen behind as it would not be able to easily drive where we were going. We were heading up to the Quinta da Pellada and for that we need the 4-wheel drive of the old Toyota Jeep. So we all, the dogs included, jumped in and headed up in the hills. In addition to producing great grapes Quinta da Pellada also has some wonderful views and a grand old building that they are in the process of restoring. It was partially destroyed during the civil war but is now looking very nice. It is not entirely restored but already looks fantastic.
Mine wine fridge
We also drove down to Saes and had a look at some of the newer vines that they are planting. I am certain that there are many more exciting things coming in the future this producer.
We then returned to the winery to sample some wines. I also had the pleasure of meeting Antonio Madeira, another wine maker, more on him and his wines to come in future posts. It was lovely to sit down inside by the fire place, protected from the slightly cold winds, and sample some of these great wines.
The wines we sampled were: Quinta de Saes white 2014: Citrus and melon aromas. The palate is fresh and crisp with mineral and a hint of spice. Rating 3.
Quinta de Saes rosé 2014: Fresh with notes red fruit. On the palate is fresh with hints of fruit and a nice acidity. Not a bad wine but just not a great one. Rating 2.5
Quinta de Saes red 2012: A blend of Tinta Roriz, Jaen, Alfrocheiro and Touriga Nacional. It is a young wine, dark ruby colored. Nice earthy aroma mixed with ripe berries. Balanced with a lot of fruit. At this price level an excellent wine. Rating 3.5.
Quinta de Saes Reserva Encruzado 2013: This a 100% Encruzado wine. Very nice touch of spice and fresh fruits, green melon and apple. Very nice and crisp acidity. Rating 3.5.
Quinta de Saes Reserva red 2012: Blend of old vines (up to 40 varieties) Dark and sweet fruits in the nose. The flavor has a mix of spiciness and sweet fruits. Nice balance and structure, long finish. Very nice wine. Rating 4
Quinta da Pellada white Primus 2012: Made from old vines so the percentages of grapes are not certain but there is Encruzada, Bical, Terrantez, Verdelho and more in there (I believe Maria mentioned it was 35-40 varieties). The nose has lovely mineral, melon and citrus and it has a lovely creamy mouth feel, crispy and mineral on the palate. It somehow remains light while being concentrated in flavor. Lovely now but should age very well. This could very well be one of my favorite whites ever. Rating 5.
Quinta da Pellada Red 2003: Deep red color. The aroma is a mix of dark cherries and plum with some ripe fruits. Herbal and black cherries gives the wine a wonderfully concentrated mouth feel. Rating: 4.5
I also later sampled the Carroucel but will be a separate review on that. All in all a lovely visit and I do hope we can find someway to work together as they produce some excellent wines.
Continuing on the Portugal theme but this time not connected to my recent trip there but still about Portuguese wine. I visited one of my favorite wine bars, not only in Barcelona but in the world, Monvinic. They always have an interesting selection of wines as it rotates as soon as a bottle is finished. In Spain it is not common to find Portuguese wine so I was glad to find this one from Quinta do Perdigao.
The vineyard was planted in 1997 at an altitude of 365 meters, in the area around Viseu and covers 7 hectares. The soil is granite based and the vine density is close to 5 000 per acre, they mainly have Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Jaen, and Alfrocheiro as well as some Encruzado. Production is largely done sustainably and pesticidies are avoided. Not sure if they are organically certified as I have heard differing stories, but they are trying to produce in a sustianble and ecological manner. It is a small family winery so no huge volumes produced here so perhaps something for my list to visit next time around.
The wine I sampled was the Quinta do Perdigão Colheita from 2009. It has 20% Touriga-Nacional, 35% Tinta-Roriz (Tempranillo) 35% Jaen (Tinta Mencia) and 10% Alfrocheiro.
I am not that familiar with Alfrocheiro. Wines made from it are often rich in colour with firm but ripe tannins and a good balance of alcohol, tannins and acidity. Flavor is often ripe with berry fruit, particularly oblackberries and ripe stawberries. They are somehwat prone to attack by oidium and botrytis and require a lot of attention. Origin is somewhat debated as it originally was thought to be related to Pinot Noir but now the consensus appears to be that it is an indigenous Portugese variety. This specific wine only has 10% of Alfrocheiro but I will try to seek out some wines where it is more dominant.
The wine has been aged in French oak barrels (225 litres) for 12 months. The color was deep ruby red. The nose has a nice touch of red fruits and herbs. The Aromas include a touch of smoke, dried and fresh herbs, and savory fruits. The wine has a nice acidity but with some tannins. There are clear falvors of red and dark fruit. For the price range I think it is a good wine (available for around €8-10 in many places), the quality is not exceptional but still good so rating it a 3 for quality and a 3.5 for value for money.
In my travels in the beautiful country of Portugal I ventured to Dão, located the edge of the highest mountain range in Portugal Serra de Estrela. I went there to meet with the owners of Quinta do Escudial. Arriving in the town close by Seia I did however start encountering some issues. My lovely GPS from Garmin (we were not really the best of friends on this trip) kept telling me to take a one-way street the wrong way so I was stuck. No other options suggested from it, Miguel at Quinta fo Escudial was however extremely helpful and asked me to describe what I saw and then right away knew where I was and came and got me.
Miguel and his parents, who run the winery, had kindly invited me for lunch. What a treat that was, traditional Portugese fare served in their home in the middle of the vineyards. The lamb casserole was especially good as well as the pudding for dessert (somewhat reminiscent of a creme brulee but better). Miguel speaks excellent English but his parents not so much but on the other hand my Portugese is non existent and we still managed to communicate with Miguel sometimes explaining things. With the food we also sampled their full range of wines.
The name of the winery is meant to evoke memories of the floral games of city fidalgos, the traditional battles on Midsummer’s Eve and other festivals in honour of great figures from Portuguese history. On a specific occasion a great storm blew down the Great Cedar at Qunta do Escudial. This tree with its great spreading branches had been much appreciated by the crowds on feast days. When the gigantic tree fell down, Alfredo Augusto de Frias de Eça Ribeiro, the owner of Quinta do Escudial, was walking right past it. And as he suffered no injury, he immediately decided to build a chapel in recognition of what he considered a miracle. This chapel is today pictured on the wines and is also present on the winery premises. Quinta do Escudial started out with 3.5 hectares of old vines but have in 2003 expanded with another 3 hectares that are planted with traditional Dão varieties (Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Jaen and Tinta Roriz).
The reason I decided to visit this winery was both great feedback from friends but also that this is a winery that has a clear idea behind what they do. They believe that no oak wines is both fitting the consumer taste and the taste of the owner so the wines never touch oak during the production (so it is in stainless steel vats and then in glass bottles). For me it was soon also clear that they at least in my view have succeeded really well with this.
We toured the vineyards and the winery, beautiful surroundings on an excellent day. Interestingly there was a lot of rosemary growing around the vineyards and some claim that part of that can be tasted in the wine. The wines we sampled were:
Quinta do Escudial Branco: a lovely fresh wine made with a blend of grapes. The nose has nice mineral and citrus notes. Nice balance and acidity. Pleasant mouthfeel with notes of citrus. Rating 3.5
Quinta do Escudial Red Harvest 2009: Deep ruby in color, nose full of red berries. In the mouth it has a nice mix of soft tannins and berrylike flavors. Rating 3.5
Quinta do Escudial Red Reserve 2009: Deep ruby red Color. The nose is full of ripe red fruit and violets, hint of spices. Wonderful body yet elegant. Packed with dark and red berry flavors and long finish. Rating 4.5.
Quinta do Escudial Touriga Nacional 2012: So dark that is more purple than red. Nose of violets, forest fruits but also chocolate and I had the feeling there was rosemary in there (but I had seen the rosemary growing around the vineyards so maybe my mind played a trick on me). Full flavor, dark fruits and berries. Clear tannins and long finish. Many will love this wine, for me it is not a clear favorite but still good. Rating 4.
Really love the wines they produce here and I look forward to exploring being able to sell them to our customers.
As readers of this blog may already have noted I have spent almost the entire last week in the wonderful country of Portugal. While I was already before convinced that I would find a lot of good wine the trip to some extent blew me away. I did not only find wonderful wine but also met a lot of interesting people. There is both a new generation of wine makers (yes, I know it is a bit tired – every region/country talks about the new generation of wine makers) but also a great many experienced wine makers who still make great wines. The sheer variety of both grape varieties but also of philosophies and types of wines made me just want to already go back.
The primary reason for the visit was to meet with Luisa from Vieira de Sousa. I did however also want to meet with others when I was any way visiting Portugal. I had a very interesting list of wine producers and I managed to meet with most of them. The fac that I also got to see a lot of the country, visit beautiful sites and also enjoy good food and wine made it a great trip.
The trip started with my arriving in Porto meeting with Luis Robredo from Gravato wines and he had also been kind enough of to arrange for an additional producer to meet up with me. So in Porto I also meet with João Santos from Valle de Nideo in the Duoro Valley. We met at the beatiful ‘cheese’ castle, Castelo do Queijo (literally Castle of the cheese. Apparently from it looking like a piece of cheese from above) but unfortunately the weather did not show it from the best side as it was a bit grayish.
My trip continued to Bairrada where I was hoping to meet with Luis Pato and Filipa Pato. They were however both in London for a Portuguese wine event but I still managed to visit Luis Pato’s estate and meet with his youngest daughter Maria João. I also had the chance for an improvised visit at sparkling wine producer São Domingos. A brief stop at the regional wine musuem in Anadia was also on the agenda.
The journey then continued into Dao where meetings with Quinta do Escuidal, Quinta do Pellada and Antonio Madeira where truly exciting. There was even time for some additional touristing with a visit to the magnificent old village of Linhares da Beira. The views from the old fortress are splendid.
Before heading up to the Douro valley I also stopped by Almeida Garret wines in Beira Interior. The week was then wrapped up with Vieira de Sousa and Quinta do Pôpa in the Douro. we wrapped up the week in Porto with visit to the wine shop at El Corte Ingles as well as a great dinner and wine at Taberna do Largo (recommendation from Maria João). A fabulous week and in the coming week or so I will describe the wines and the visits in more detail in separate posts.
Amazing! That is the word to characterize this wineweek. I had some high hopes for Portugal as a wine country, but having experienced it, I was blown away. It’s also a big step for our business, as we met with several producers that have a philosophy to fit the Winecurious.
The week started of with M taking off ahead of me towards Portugal (and with me tasting some Portuguese wine). He flew to Porto, where he started working his way south through Bairrada to Dao via Beira Interior. By Thursday evening he had met with eight producers and collected an impressive amount of samples, thirty three bottles of them to be exact. I arrived to Porto Thursday night and the next morning we embarked for Douro.
In Douro we spent the Friday with Luisa Borges, the owner of Vieira de Sousa wines. She showed us around her new winery in Sabrosa, took us for a tour around her lovely vineyards and sampled some of her old family ports. Today Vieira de Sousa produce some pretty impressive entry level ports, but omg some of the old family reserves were wonderful. We tried some tawny port from the 70’s and Luisa told us that their oldest wines are closer to a hundred years old. We also did some thinking around how to best market her products and I think we have a great plan. More about that to come.
Luisa also took us to visit a friend of hers, Stéphane Ferreira at Quinta do Popa wines. M had actually eyed that winery before he left, but we had assumed we did not have time for it. So it was a wonderful surprise that Luisa took us there for a visit. Quinta do Popa makes some great “table wines” (regular reds and whites). They have some wonderful reds with 100% Tinta Roriz and blends from their old vines. Many of the old Portuguese vineyards can grow up to 40 or 50 different grape varieties. Stéphanes ‘only’ had a mix of 21, but nevertheless the wines were great. As a speciality Quinta do Popa also makes a “sweet”, low alcohol fermented wine. It is not a Port, but it has some of the same characteristics but with a freshnes coming from the low (11%) alcohol level. I was very surprised how much I liked it and could imagine it being very popular in Sweden as a summer drink. I think we might need to contact Stéphane again for some samples.
After the wine-heavy week, we spent the night in a cabin at Luisas vineyards in Quinta do Roncao. In the evening, we sipped on some wonderful 10 year old White Port, one of Luisas most popular wines, and in the morning we woke up to an amazing view of the Douro river. The only downside was the heart stopping drive there. I don’t think I have ever been so afraid in my life in a car, and this time it was not due to M’s driving (he did a good job) but the narrow and steep roads without any fences. Really, that is the only downside of Douro as a wine-destination, you need a good car (don’t even think about cheaping out by going for a compact).
Saturday was spent in Porto wine-shopping (as if we didn’t have enough bottles to pack already) and dining out. We had received a great tip from one of the vineyards on a small restaurant called Taberna do Largo serving Portuguese tapas from around the country and small producer wines by the glass. We stuffed ourselves with some local meats, cheeses and sauteed mushrooms. They had so much interesting wines for sale also, but thank God we were able to leave them on the shelf.
I could spend all afternoon writing about the greatness of Portugal, but I will save some for the next few weeks. Have a great week, and when you next think of wine, think of Portugal. It has wonderful wines and to make things better it is exceptional value for money!