WineMine Club members enjoyed a fascinating visit to the Estremadura wine region north of Lisbon recently. They spent two nights there and enjoyed excellent dinners in the comfortable and well-run Estalagem do Convento, just outside the walls of historic Óbidos.
The first winery to be visited was the magnificently set up Quinta do Sampayo on the Ribatejo border. This Quinta belongs to Dr. J.J. Macedo, founder of the pharmaceutical company Seber S.A. Their winemaker, António Ventura, gave a conducted tour of the winery and introduced their range of excellent price/quality wines. The tasting was held over the course of an excellent light lunch, during which their De Filipa range of varietals and reservas and their Encostas de Cedro were much appreciated.
The following day opened with a tour of Wellington’s Torres Vedras Peninsula War defensive lines. This was most ably and interestingly conducted by Clive Gilbert, vice chairman of the British Historical Society of Portugal, and provided an interesting diversion from stainless steel fermentation tanks and oak barrels. The members visited the highly esteemed Quinta do Monte d’Oiro. Owned by Dr. José Bento dos Santos, the Quinta produces some of Portugal’s most respected wines. Largely Syrah grape based, in only a few years, some of their wines have achieved almost cult status. Indeed, one of their wines, Homenagem a António Carqueijeiro 1999, made it to the top 12 in an international Lisbon tasting (with an international panel with no Portuguese representation), ahead of such Bordeaux stars as Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1998 and Cheval Blanc 1997. The event was won, incidentally, by the Douro’s Quinta do Vale Meão 2000 – Portugal is finally making a mark! Members tasted a selection of their magnificent wines in their most elegant tasting room, followed by a superb lunch.
The next day, members visited the Bucelas winery of Chão do Prado. Under winemaker Paulo Laureano’s guidance, this small winery produces Arinto based white wines and espumante, as well as a much-appreciated Late Harvest. Members were most cordially received by António Paneiro Pinto and his charming wife, and treated to an excellent lunch. Bucelas has very recently been set up for enotourism and the WineMine Club members were their first visitors! It was no surprise that, following this exhausting round of good food and wine, culture and company, the coach journey back to the Algarve was very quiet, with everybody fast asleep!