On May 17, more than 50 members of the Algarve Wine Society headed to the extreme corner of the Algarve for a wine tasting and dinner at the Memmo Baleeira Hotel in Sagres.
With the weather calm and the sun shining on the harbour below, the setting was perfect for a relaxed evening.
The tasting kicked off with winemaker Miguel Cavaco from Quinta da Chocapalha presenting five wines from this family estate nestled in the hills 50km north of the centre of Lisbon.
Featuring both Portuguese and non-native grape varieties, the wines tasted ranged from a fresh Arinto displaying citrus and mineral notes, to the smooth tannins and hints of blackberry of the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Developing the Chocapalha Estate has been a labour of love since the Tavares da Silva family purchased it in 1987. Their focus on quality was evident in the wines enjoyed by AWS members, with the Viosinho and Castelão being particularly appreciated.
This five-wine tasting was followed by a five-course dinner, served alongside wines from other producers in the range available from DECANTE Vinhos of Alcantarilha. The meal began with Douro wine, a Moscatel Galego from Secret Spot Wines, creamy, yet with crisp acidity. An Encruzado/Bical from Quinta de Saes was a wonderful complement to the fish, and the main course of beef tenderloin was accompanied by Caladessa, a blend from Herdade da Calada featuring uniquely Alentejan varietal Tinta Caiada, temperamental to cultivate but ideally suited to the hot, dry climate.
The dessert was accompanied by port, namely a full-bodied LBV from Quinta Seara d’Ordens.
With the blood moon rising over Sagres, members congratulated organiser Vernon Beamish, Quinta da Chocapalha and DECANTE Vinhos for presenting a delightful range of wines, and reserved a big round of applause for the Memmo Baleeira team, particularly Maria Carapinha, Tiago Esteves and chef Elisabete Oliveira, for food and service of the highest standard.
The AWS will next meet on June 21 at Restaurante Florian for the annual Gourmet Dinner featuring wines presented by Julian Reynolds.