As fans of organic agriculture and a daily glass of red, we´ve found several tasty reds at our favorite organic supermarket : Miosotis in Lisboa. The selection of organic wines from Portugal is still meager. But the few we´ve tried have been pleasant and not too rustic. Portuguese wines seem to carry the negative rap of being too earthy. The organic, red table wine from Quinta Mata Porcas (the name could mean: thicket or forest of pigs. The alternate translation is: kill the pigs. We love pigs so we´re hoping its the former) is our favorite, with a robust pallet, and fits our budget. Farmers are becoming interested in converting to organic methods for their vines, as popular demand for organic wines increases due to a growing health conscious population. www.agrobio.pt
Wine making is an ancient traditon in Portugal. One theory is that the Roman invaders taught the art of winemaking to the Portuguese who then produced and exported it to Rome. Portugal has a large variety of native grapes producing a wide variety of wines with distictive features. Perfect for growing organic, since the right grape should be in the richt place. Portugal´s wines are often considered to be too rustic for the discerning pallet. But the past decade has seen an increase in recognition for high quality Portugues red wines. And the majority of today´s red table wines, being exported, have fruity berry and plum notes often complimented by oak spice. Portugal´s wine demarcation system is older than that of France. UN has designated two wine making areas as World Heritage sites: The beautiful Douro Valley in the North near the city of Porto and Pico island wine region.
Here in Colares, in foothills of the Sintra Natural Park, is the home of the ancient, ungrafted Ramisco vines. These vines were the only ones in Europe to survive, thanks to the sandy soil and their deep roots, the 19th century phylloxera plague, which wiped out most vineyards across Europe. Colares wines have been famous since the 13th century and are know for their deep color and full body. The wines of Colares are some of the most expensive in Portugal, since many vineyards have been plowed under for development, and so production is way below demand. Colares wines older, best vintages have become collectors treasures.
The Adega Regional de Colares, dating back to the 18th century, www.arcolares.pt offers wine tastings/tours. During the summer months cultural events are held admidst the huge oak barrels of the wine cellar. We attended a concert of Rua da Lua, a swinging fado band, there last summer. The immense Adega was lite with hundreds of candles whose light magically reflected off the enorous oak wine vats. I wonder if the wine enjoys being sung too – might enhance the fermentation process.
A tour of the Adega Regional de Colares, with wine tasting, is a destination on Colina Flora´s walking tours. Guests really enjoy this event and usually purchase several bottles to take home. Contact www.colinaflora.com for more information.