Riverford Organic Farm

A few weekends ago I went on a trip to the West of England and Someset. It was more of a foodie trip then a wine focused trip but food and wine go together and both concern taking something from the ground and making it into something good. We visited Riverford Organic Farm and were given an extensive tour of the fields as well as enjoying a scrumptious meal at the Riverford  Field Kitchen. Guy Watson, one of the founders of Riverford was our charming host and took us out to the fields to pick our own greens. Riverford’s business is to grow organic fruit and veg and deliver it to your door. From field to your door in 2 days. Riverford is as organic as they come and cheaper then the supermarkets. To find out more about the veg boxes, click here. It was great to get out of the city and into the countryside. For a fleeting moment, I thought wouldn’t it be great to live in the country. But then I sobered up. I took about a million pictures but the slideshow below is a condensed version of our trip. Many thanks to Guy, Ben and Charlotte of Riverford Farm for taking time out to spend with a bunch of bloggers on a lovely Spring weekend.  Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Lunch in the Douro at Quinta Vale do Meão

After the ’09 EWBC ended in Lisbon, myself and about 20 other winebloggers were invited to visit the Douro Valley by the Douro Boys. The Douro Boys are 5 Portuguese wine makers who have come together to make exciting  still table wines from the Douro Valley and to show that there’s a lot more to Portugal than Port. The first quinta we visited was the Quinta Vale do Meão. It was founded by the legendary Dona Antónia Adelaida Ferreira in 1877 when she purchased  260 hectares and began construction of a quinta and cultivation of the vines. Her great-great grandson, Francisco Javier de Olazabel now runs the estate along with his son, the estate winemaker, Francisco Olazabel. The produce both red and white table wines. We got an extensive tour of the winery and then off to the quinta for snacks and a very late lunch. We were starving because the epic journey from Lisbon had taken us about 6 hours and only one coffee stop all day. We fell on the food like vultures. Must have spent about 45 mins eating and drinking their delicious white wine and then lunch was served along with their robust red wines in the main house. By the time we left, the sun was setting and we still had a train ride along the Douro to the next winery we were scheduled to visit that day and dinner! Below is a brief slideshow of the Quinta Vale do Meão winery and estate and our train ride along the river, featuring various winebloggers, of course! Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Daytrip from Lisbon to the Quinta do Sanguinhal, D.O.C. Obidos

Before the EWBC ’09, I was speaking to a friend of mine, Miguel Leal of Casa Leal, importers of premium Portuguese wine to the UK, and he invited me to visit one of his favourite wineries in Portugal, the Quinta do Sanguinhal in the D.O.C. Obidos region. Situated about an hour north of Lisbon, Quinta do Sanguinhal was established in 1927  and also encompasses the Quinta de San Francisco and Quinta das Cerejeiras. The region has been producing wine since 1153 when King D. Alfonso Henriques donated large estates in the area to the Cistercian monks. I took a tour of the vinyards and had a winetasting of the estate’s wines with one of the owners, the genial Carlos Joao and his lovely niece, Ana – who also doubled as our vineyard tour guide. Carlos and I had a very tasty lunch beforehand, drinking the Quinta de San Franciso 2006. A rustic wine made up of primarily touriga nacional, I enjoyed it immensely, nothing complicated but nice dark fruits and great tannins to complement the flavourful lunch. They primarily grow touriga nacional,  aragonez and syrah, among other international varietals as well as a variety of indigenous and international white varietals. After lunch, Carlos put me in Ana’s capable and knowledgeable hands for a tour of the vineyard. The day ended with a tasting in their lagar room where they crush the grapes by foot. The quinta is open to tours as well as tastings and I was joined by a group of Swedes on my tasting. They all loved the wines and I’d have to agree. I took about a thousand pics that day, below are some of them. Mouse over them for pic info. For more information on visiting Quinta do Sanguinhal, go to www.vinhos-sanguinhal.pt Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Cork Forest – Portugal, EWBC 2009

Another European Wineblggers Conference has come and gone….sigh…it just flew by! Before I knew it, I was back winging my way back to Heathrow. But in between landing and take off at Lisbon’s Portela Airport I met some of the nicest people, saw the most amazing scenery and had some pretty good wine to boot! For me, the highlight of the weekend, not including the tour of the Douro Valley which was AFTER the conference, was the visit to the cork forests north of Lisbon, hosted by the Quinta do Lagoalva in the Tejo appellation and sponsored by Amorim, who produced a quarter of the cork in the world, something like 60 BILLION corks a year and that’s not even counting all the other things that can be made out of  cork. We left Lisbon early Saturday morning a bit worse for wear not having had our morning coffee and set off for the province of Tejo and the old cork forests scattered about. To call them forests is a bit of a misnomer as they’re more like orchards, the trees being oak and planted in more or less straight lines but they are old, most of the trees over 100 years old and most live up to 200 years or more. Cork trees are fascinating. They’re only harvested after they reach 25 years of age  and the cork ,called virgin cork, is not of suitable quality to be used for as cork stoppers. The tree is then harvested periodically, every 9 years until it reaches around the age of 40 when the cork can finally be used to make cork stoppers. The cork from the previous harvests is not wasted but put to use in a myriad of other items, including tiles on the Space Shuttle. Pretty cool, cork is  used to insulate the Space Shuttle on re-entry. Our guide from Amorim, Carlos de Jesus was a font of information regarding cork and told us that cork has a very high tolerance for heat, the bark protecting the inner tree...

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Brightwell Vineyards & English wine week – slideshow

English wine. English wine week. Do they make enough wine to support English wine week? Well, yeah, they do. There are over 250 vineyards in the British Isles and loads of them are winning awards and making fantastic wines. I’ve become a big fan lately, not only because I’m living here but also because I think that they’re producing some fantastic stuff. I have to say that the sparkling wines are the ones that are winning the awards but they’re getting better and better at making those whites and even, dare I say, reds! Last weekend, Andrew from Spittoon invited a bunch of us food and wine bloggers up to Wallingford, Oxfordshire to visit Brightwell Vineyards and have a taste or two of quality English wine. So one EARLY Saturday morning, I met up with eatlikeagirl, foodstories, pencilandspoon  (Mark, a beer blogger) and cooksister to brave the wilds of the English countryside. (A slideshow of my trip to the English countryside and vineyards) Our first stop was Brightwell Vineyards which has been around for about 20 years and they have a quite an extensive collection of varietals but most are experimental. They focus mainly on bacchus, ortega, reichensteiner, and dornfelder with pinot noir being planted next year. They are unusual in that they focus on still wines as opposed to sparkling which most English producers seem to gravitate to. Brightwell is not only situated next to the Thames but has a lovely duck pond with lots of wild birdies, horses, the friendliest dobermans I’ve ever met (the dogs would probably show you where the safe is), and pigs! Athough the wine pigs, as we nicknamed them, will be moving next year to make way for rows of pinot noir. The big hit of the tasting had to be the Oxford 2006 Regatta red, a complex spicy, woody, red wine. Pepper, graphite, ripe red fruits, raspberry, all those decriptors were being thrown about with abandon by the bloggers. I had to agree and it also had a lovely silky weight to it. Carol,...

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