Having recently returned from a visit to beautiful Portugal, we thought the best way to give our good friends a taste of our trip was to share food and wine like what we tasted in Portugal! A highlight of our travels was a visit to the Esporao winery, situated in the beautiful golden rolling hills of the eastern Alentejo region, only a few miles from Portugal’s eastern border with Spain. This region is stunning and we kept wondering if the kind people who live there know how gorgeous their home region is… The folks at Esporao are just as serious and professional about wine as the landscape was beautiful, and the operation is quite impressive – we understand that last year the winery produced around 16 million bottles of wine – a big number for any winery in any part of the world. Not only is the production large, there seemed an equal commitment to quality as evidenced by the completely separate and different wine making facilities for whites and reds, allowing the reds never to mix with whites and the whites to be cold fermented and kept entirely separate from the red wine making processes and equipment. Separate red and white wine making facilities require a sizable financial commitment, but given Esporao’s apparent desire to become better and more respected, it seems there was probably little hesitation to making this investment. The winery is led, as it has been for many years now, by David Baverstock – an Australian who makes Portugal his wine-making home. After a tour of the winery we were treated to a tasting of several current wine releases and an olive oil tasting – the breadth of wine styles and tastes was impressive and quite interesting for us. Should anyone decide to make a trip to Portugal and travel through the Alentejo Region, I highly recommend taking a tour and having lunch at the winery, the foods and wines are matched expertly and the entire staff seemed professional and yet truly friendly – a great experience for all.
Here is what our Portuguese Chef and friend (Toni Pais) put together for our group of 40 people to share a taste of Portugal:
Aperitivo – Crostini with Sardine, AND Portuguese Chickpea and Spinach Soup Casta Baga Vinho Espumante Bruto Rose (LUIS PATO, Anadia – Portugal)
Entrada – Feijoada de Mariscos (Seafood Cassoulet) Reserve White 2008 – (HERDADE DO ESPORAO, Alentejano – Portugal)
Salada – Mixed greens with Anchovies and Red wine vinegar
Prato Principal – Braised Lamb in Red wine with Saffron Rice Quatro Castas Reserva 2008 AND Reserve Red 2007 (HERDADE DO ESPORAO, Alentejano – Portugal)
Sobremesa – Fig Almond Tart Vintage Port – 2000 (OSBORNE, Douro – Portugal)