Founded in 2016, the 300-hectare Herdade do Freixo estate is located in typical undulating Alentejo plains, dotted with olive trees and holm oaks. The underground winery is quite unique, featuring a ramp that spirals its way downward. The great architectural mastery involved earned it the Building of the Year 2018 award, picked by the more than 100,000 readers of ArchDaily, one of the most widely-read architecture websites. From the thousands of nominees in the race for this distinction, only 14 other buildings around the world received the same award.
The wines of Herdade do Freixo are not easy to find here in the Algarve but I recently tried a few of them at Terroir Wine Shop and Kitchen in Carvoeiro. Over dinner with some friends, we had a bottle each of their Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and their red Reserva. Whilst the red Reserva is a very well made wine, a luscious blend of Touriga Nacional with Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouchet, the latter two varieties dominating the wine, it is rich, fruity and well balanced, going very well with our main course orders of kid stew and steak.
I was not, however, that impressed with the Sauvignon Blanc, a little bland on the nose and on the palate, and not much expression of the variety, but all the same a very decent white wine.
But we all loved the Chardonnay which spends just four months in oak, ageing on the lees with batonnage. This reminded me of good mid-range white Burgundy, the oak hardly detectable on the nose with grassy and peachy notes coming to the front, full and rounded with a dry mineral finish. Very good value at €11.50 shop price.
Herdade do Freixo will be celebrating the award with an open day event on May 4 and 5. The whole team will be present to welcome visitors, and there will be guided tours led by architect Valsassina on May 5 from 10.30am to 4pm.
By PATRICK STUART