Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Day Six/Seven: July 3th/4th 2012:

Staying Put!
There were days that the body needed to rest and this was one of them. One thing however, there were a number of things going on. First of all was the arrival back from Bruxelles and then subsequent leaving again for Angola of our host, Alexandre Relvas. Alex was supposed to spend more time with us but unfortunately and understandably, his business demands were such that he only spent a couple of days at the farm/vineyard. The first of course was his leaving for three days at a sales meeting for his wines. The second was a planned business marketing venture to a very large wine consumer, Angola in Central Africa.
Angola used to be a Portuguese colony and now is independent but it still has many Portuguese traditions as well as a thirst for good wine.
I really could not blame him for having to go and I am sure he would have rather stayed and been the perfect host.
We went to see him to bid him farewell and also do an interview for the “Two In A vineyard” series. When we arrived he was still tied up at a meeting so we went to Evora for a quick lunch and drink. We returned to find him still at the meeting but were happy to learn that the meeting was almost done.
Alex came out and came over to finish off an interview regarding him and his winery. We did the interview and then he had to say adieu until we met again in Canada sometime in November.
We also did an interview with Nuno Franko who was his chief winemaker and viticulturist. Nuno suggested doing a wine tasting the following day which was the fourth. We were supposed to be heading to Esperoa. We made the plans and while I was quite interested, the two girls decided not to attend.
The rest of the day went quietly and we were soon ready to retire.
Quinta do Esperoa   
It was good to see David Baverstock, one of the most familiar names in the wine world------at least in the Australian, Canadian, Portuguese and American wine world. An unassuming gentleman, he came down to the winery/restaurant portion of the huge (and I mean huge: 500 hectares of vineyards to start) estate that known throughout Portugal and many parts of the globe.
David greeted us in his usual pleasant manner----his voice sounding very calming and refined . Even though I knew that he was Australian (he has lived in Portugal with his wife for years) it was still strange to hear the Aussie accent.
David was a bit pressed for time as he had a late morning business meeting in Lisbon which was about some two hours away but he never once did he indicate that he was in a hurry and never did we feel hurried or unwelcome. On top of all this a Brazilian contingent of businessmen were coming to Esperoa for a tour. They were behind in schedule and of course this added to his stress I am sure. We had met the group briefly just a few minutes before he came over to meet us.
We decided to join the group for the tour thus giving David a break. This way we did not have to be given a separate tour. It was a good thing ---tell you later why!
David gave us the usual winery tour showing us his main fermentation and aging areas plus a very special area meant for the fermentation and aging of the old vines for his private stock.
Esperao was a unique addition tour repertoire of sites to visit.  It was more than a winery due to its magnificent location and beauteous background.
The winery itself is made up of several locational buildings---the main one being the “adega” or winery which also housed a superb multi star type restaurant and one of the most stupendous scenic areas in Portugal. If the modern spacious winery was not enough then the lake behind the restaurant offered such a fine view while visitors enjoyed it eating their lunch or dinner plus having a drink of the highly reputable Esperao wine.
Now for the surprise, we attended the tour that David gave the business people, In between exhibits I got to talking to the fellow that was obviously the head of the group from Brazil. We talked about San Paulo and he even invited me down. The real surprise came when he mentioned to me that he was the brother of the owner of Esperao. If that was not enough he also asked me if I knew of Quinta do Crasto. Oh! Did I!!? I mentioned that it was one of my favourite Portuguese wines and that it was in the Douro and I had stayed there when the hotel building was not yet ready but enough to get a great night’s sleep. I also mentioned to him that there was an amazing infinity swimming pool at the edge of the 1200 metre high hill that the winery was built on. Quinto do Crasto made some fine Port as well as still wine.Miguel, the owner, also loved splashing his way down the Douro River and of course I had several rides in Miguel’s boat. Anyhow, his brother also owned Quinta do Crasto and that floored me. I couldn’t get over the fact that the winery was in his hands.
After the fury had passed regarding Esperao and Crasto, we decided to go out and look at stores in another small down. We advised that we had the intent of coming back to Esperao for lunch. I also found some Internet signals in the main square.
There was not much to buy with the exception of paid parking space. While sitting on one of the benches in the main square, I sent some face book messages and then clean up when lunch time was approaching. 
We went back to Esperao and ordered dinner. Darlene and Taryn had a cheese dish with “fries” Jessica, Darlene and I had the veal steak with fries (Jessica and Darlene) and rice (me) with many types of added entrees such as olives, bread, special types of Pates made from olives, sausage, tomatoes and pork. Also included was a fine selection of olive oils. The tasting started with the basic olive oil and went on to the one with the most character. They were delicious. There was also the special olive bread made at the winery.
The main meal finally came and my meat was so delicious that I ordered a bottle of the Esperao Red Reserve to go with it.
We gleefully finished our meal and asked for the bill. It turned out that David had “treated” us to the lunch. Astounding!
We then went back to Sao Miguel and dropped off Taryn and Jessica.     
Wine Tasting At Sao Miguel (Logo Wines)
Darlene and I then went to Logo Wines to taste several of the Sao Miguel Reserve wines. We tasted the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 (barrel)
The 2004, 2007 and 2009 were the most pleasing with the young 2009 offering the greatest fruit and depth. The 2004 was the most surprising with the best of the bunch for aging prospects. It was delicious.
The 2006 was a great commercial wine that suited most tastes but it was now on its way down while the 2005 was a fine wine which reached its peak and was now starting to decline. The 2007 showed why it was a top wine for a number of years as it showed ripe forward fruit and good tannins but it too was beginning to decline. The 2010 was young and still being blended. So far both Nuno and I thought that it showed too much oak and may need some further work to calm down the oak. Nuno said that he would need to mix some  stainless steel fermented/aged red to bring about the wine  to an acceptable level.
After the tasting Nuno gave us some wines to try i.e. a basic Rose, a Touriga Nacional Rose and a white made from a great blend of Viognier and Alverhino.  We then parted ways as we had one more day to go and then we would be off to Lagoalva de Cima in Ribetejo. We then went back to Sao Miguel.
End of Day Seven