Visiting Quinta de Curvos, Portugal’s Vinho Verde region

Sep 27, 14 Visiting Quinta de Curvos, Portugal’s Vinho Verde region

Posted by in All, Portugal

I recently visited the Vinho Verde region of northern Portugal and got to know the wines and some of the producers of the region. One of the most interesting quintas (or estates) we visited was Quinta de Curvos. This quinta is located in Minho which is not far from Barcelos, one of the main cities on the pilgrimage to Campostelo de Santiago. The quinta has been around since the 1500’s but was bought by the Fonseca family in 1974. Since then, they have been producing the indigenous grapes alvarinho, loureiro and trajadura. What I enjoyed most about these wines is how well made they are and yet they are relatively inexpensive. They have plenty of depth of flavour and are perfect with seafood, which is plentiful in Portugal. Over lunch, Miguel Fonseca, one of the sons of the owner of the estate, told us a bit of the history of the estates. He is involved in the running of the estate and spent his childhood running around the forested grounds. I have to say I was even more envious then usual when I visit wine estates because the grounds of the estate had the most remarkable buildings and follies set in a forested parkland. My favourite was the cave set underneath a folly sitting by the pond. It was like having your own private batcave. It must have so much fun to grow up there and Miguel did indeed agree with us! There are also pergolas of vines and vineyards as well that cover one side of the estate.   The Quinta itself was founded in the 1500’s and passed through different owners before being bought by Miguel’s family in the 1970’s. Since then the family have maintained the grounds and built up the wine producing aspect of the estate. Over lunch we tried a few of the estate whites and the rose. We had a loureiro, an avesso and a blended white wine as well as a bright cherry red coloured rose. All...

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Discovering Portugal’s Vinho Verde, visiting Soalheiro vineyards

Sep 10, 14 Discovering Portugal’s Vinho Verde, visiting Soalheiro vineyards

Posted by in All, Portugal, Sparkling Wine

The last days of summer are upon us but that doesn’t mean you have to automatically switch to red wine. As they say, it’s ok to drink white after Labor Day (well, that’s what they say in the States).  Earlier this summer I visited the Vinho Verde region in the north east of Portugal where they make great wines, and not just for summer. Vinho Verde can be a bit confusing because it is not only the name of the grape and  one of the styles made, but is also the region. Most consumers think of Vinho Verde as a light easy drinking wine that is meant to be drunk young. As an added bonus, it’s also low alcohol, averaging between (9% – 11% alc).While that is all true, there is a lot more to it then just that. For example, Vinho Verde not only pertains to young white wine but also to rose and red wine. Vinho Verde can also be sparkling or distilled. Our trip focused on the whites of the region. The main grapes used for the white wines are alvarinho, arinto, loureiro, trajadura, azal and avesso. All of these are indigenous varieties of Portugal and produce light wines with acidity but also with body. A very nice combination on the palate. Throughout the trip, we tasted not only the still white wines but also the sparkling wines of the region, which are less well known but equally as good. One of the sparkling wine producers we met was Luiz Cerdeira, son of the founder of Soalheiro. They are located in the northern most part of Portugal, in Melgaço and specialize in alvarinho. They produce both still and sparkling wines. Sitting on the balcony of the winery overlooking the vines with the border with Spain just at the bottom of the hill was a delightful experience. We sipped their Brut Rose as well as the sparkling alvarinho. I think those sparklers could easily compete on an international scale. They had great acidity,...

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Madeira Wine Is For More Than Just Cooking

Aug 22, 14 Madeira Wine Is For More Than Just Cooking

Posted by in Food and Wine, Portugal

Recently I had lunch with Humberto Jardim, the managing director of Henriques & Henriques, one of the oldest producers of Madeira, the house being founded in 1850. Madeira has a long and distinguished history but nowadays consumers only consider it when they are cooking which is a shame as there is so much more to Madeira. Over lunch at Maze, Humberto told me a bit about the history of Madeira and where he thinks it should be heading in the future. Madeira can be found in writings from around 1425 and is even mentioned in Shakespear’s plays Falstaff and Richard III. It was used to toast the signing of the American Declaration of Independence and is still used today to toast any who are given the Freedom of the City of London. Although Madeira has been around for centuries and is delicious, it is a complicated wine to navigate. Humberto freely acknowledges this and believes that Madeira has to do a better job of educating the consumer.  There are so many styles, variations and ages of the wine that it can be difficult to choose just the right one. DOC Madeira is by definition always going to be sweet due to the DOC regulations. Even ‘dry’ Madeira can have up to 115 grams of sugar per litre. The key to Madeira is the balance between the sugar, acidity and alcohol. I should mention that Madeira is a fortified and ‘cooked’ wine, by that I mean it is left to age in heated rooms, often in barrel but also in tank. They are aged this way to duplicate the long sea voyages through tropical climes in cask that first gave us Madeira. One thing you can say about Madeira is that it is virtually indestructible. Even if a bottle has been open for months or years, it will still taste as fresh as the day it was opened. Humberto opines that they should market Madeira according to styles of production. He thinks that Malvasia which...

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Video – How to Read a Wine Label, the Douro Valley and Bourgogne

Sep 19, 13 Video – How to Read a Wine Label, the Douro Valley and Bourgogne

Posted by in All, France, Portugal, Videos

Two of my favourite wine regions in the world  are The Douro Valley in Portugal and Bourgogne in France. I have been invited to visit the region many times by various producers and generic wine bodies and some of my favourite visits have been organised by the Discover the Origin campaign. The aim of DTO is to explain the wines of the region to the uninitiated. The wines of Bourgogne are poorly understood and suffer sometimes from having wine labels that are incomprehensible to the average wine drinker. The wine labels are slowly changing to make it easier for wine drinkers to know what they are buying but it does take time. DTO have created this handy video guide to show you what you’re getting when you pick up a bottle of  Bourgogne. They’ve done the same for the wines of the Douro Valley. I adore the wines of the Douro but too many people I talk to think that only port wines are produced there. In reality, although they make excellent ports, the region also produces some fantastic and wonderful value for money red and white table wines. I hope you find the video informative and if you want to know anything more about these regions, don’t hesitate to drop me a line or visit the Discover the Origin website.     Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Wine cruising with Vinopolis and Celebrity Cruises

Jan 22, 13 Wine cruising with Vinopolis and Celebrity Cruises

Posted by in France, Portugal, Spain, Travel

Last Autumn, I was invited by Celebrity Cruises and Vinopolis to join their Immersive Wine Cruise. The cruise featured Oz Clarke and, from Vinopolis, their head educator, Tom Forrest.  They were on hand to not only lead masterclasses on board but also joined guests every evening for wine chats and led the vineyard tours which were offered as on-shore excursions. The cruise was a 12-day trip starting in Southampton with stops in Le Havre, Bordeaux, Bilboa, Vigo and Porto. 12 days might seem like a long time to be on a boat but the Celebrity Cruises ships really are floating luxury hotels. My cabin was spacious and full of light, complete with a small lounge and a sheltered balcony where I could sit and watch the dolphins playing as we sailed by (I saw them 3 times on the trip) or just enjoyed an evening tipple with friends before dinner. As I was in Concierge Class, we had 24 hr room service and unlike the typical “you must eat at your assigned seating” , I had the luxury of choosing my dining time and dining companions as well as my choice of where I wanted to eat. Whatever you may have thought about cruising before, there seems to be a lot of flexibility nowadays. There was plenty to do on-board besides the daily wine tasting classes that Oz and Tom gave every afternoon that we were at sea. The ship, Constellation is one of the older ships of the fleet but it still has plenty of amenities and dining venues. There was a full roster of activities from cooking to dance classes and everything in between. My favourite dining venue was the Ocean Liners Restaurant which was the formal dining restaurant on the ship. The wine list was impressive and although a bit skewed to the New World, the prices were reasonable. This may have been in part because the ship is run by an American company so all prices were in dollars. I...

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Video – tasting the 2009 Quinta do Noval Touriga Nacional with MD Christian Seely

Oct 18, 12 Video – tasting the 2009 Quinta do Noval Touriga Nacional with MD Christian Seely

Posted by in Portugal, Videos

The Douro not only makes great port wines but they are now also beginning to produce their own “terroir” driven red and white table wines. While I was in the Douro recently at Quinta do Noval, I got to taste some of the great red table wines they are producing. Christian Seely, MD of Quinta do Noval and I had  a brief tasting of the 2009 Quinta do Noval Touriga Nacional and here Christian tells us why he thinks the Douro does and will in the future make great table wines. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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