A Danish Christmas lunch in the Alentejo

Sixty members of the Algarve Wine Society (AWS) set off in two buses for the Cortes de Cima vineyard near Vidigueira  in the Alentejo on November 24.

A national strike, bad weather and an electrical fault on one of the buses conspired to try to compromise the day, but failed.

As we were approaching Vidigueira, we became aware of an unusual bird perched on telegraph wires, but we had our very own twitcher present, who was able to tell us it was the unusual Black Shouldered Kite. We saw eight of them – an omen for a good day to follow.

At the vineyard, we were greeted by Californian Carrie Jorgensen and her Danish husband Hans Christian Jorgensen, owners of the  350  hectare estate.

Together they founded Cortes de Cima in 1988 and each is equally involved in the day-to-day management. Carrie heads the marketing and PR and Hans is the producer and winemaker.

Danish delights

Pat Dodswoth with Bob and Chris Montague enjoying the lunch.
Pat Dodswoth with Bob and Chris Montague enjoying the lunch.

Following a tour of the impressive winery, a tasting began. In addition to the superb Homagem a Hans Christian Andersen 2008, Trincadeira 2008 and Touriga Nacional 2005, we tasted a delicious new 2010 white straight from the vat and not yet bottled.

The wines were accompanied by bread and a peppery olive oil for dipping.

Nearly 50 per cent of the farm is devoted to vines and about one-fifth to olive groves.

We then sat down for a Danish Christmas lunch, a buffet table created by Danish chef Bjarne Otto, which included marinated herrings, gravad laks with a dill dressing, fried fish fillets with remoulade, Danish pork meat balls with cucumber sauce and crackly roast pork.  We drank Chaminé tinto and branco 2009, Cortes de Cima 2008, Syrah 2008, Aragonez  2007 and the Reserva 2004.

Surrounded by stunning landscape, this was an enjoyable day for all.

The AWS finishes its year with a traditional Christmas dinner at the Meridien Penina Hotel tomorrow and the 2011 programme will start on January 2 with a tasting at the Tivoli Hotel in Vilamoura.

Membership in the Society is at its upper limit.

If you would like information about the AWS or would like to join the waiting list, please contact the Secretary, Larry Hampton, by email [email protected]

Gaynor Stapleton