Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The portuguese inventor

The first morning there was excitement in the air as Mario was keen for us to see his new invention for the mass turning of 600 bottles of wine and we were equally interested to see how this would be done.


Mario has created a beautiful sculpture like piece of equipment which enables him to turn a cage of 600 bottles in one go rather than having to pick each bottle up individually to turn.

We were not as quite as confident as Mario and thought perhaps experimenting with 600 bottles initially might be a little precipitous, but we needn’t have worried as everything worked perfectly.

Mario explained how he is always thinking of ways which might improve the wine or provide an interesting story for those who buy and drink Negreiros wine.  The marketing of wine from a small producer needs to be innovative and the stories Mario relates through blogs, pictures and video invite the wine drinker to take that initial taste. 


Later in the day we learnt about  Mario’s impending trial of storing bottles under water to maintain a constant temperature. In order to do this the corks in all the wine bottles need to be sealed to protect them from the water.  This is done by dipping the neck of the bottle into wax and Mario encouraged us to take part in the dipping process.

It will be great to taste this wine in years to come and compare the flavour - who knows it could be the very bottles we sealed.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Portuguese chronicles

Mario Negreiros, our host for the weekend drove the car over the brow of the hill and
announced ‘Quinta das Amendoeiras’. From the hilltop we looked out across the valley to the Negreiros family vineyard and winery.

Through the darkening sky of dusk we could see miles of terraces cut into the hillside and the spiky silhouettes of the four vine varieties used in the Negreiros wines - Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz .

It then took some time for the car to descend the hill, follow
the curve of the land and turn into the roadway to la quinta. Eager to get some sense of the land in which we were staying, we walked to an area of olive groves, but with the light rapidly disappearing we were unable to appreciate the landscape surrounding us.

Having been shown our room it was time for something to eat and our first taste of a wine grown and produced on the very soil we were standing.

This was a perfect start to our weekend of tasting, particularly when eaten with our bacalhau (codfish). Here we also had the first taste of Mario’s wonderful storytelling.

He related heroic and funny tales of the expeditions taken long ago by Portuguese fishermen. He moved on to the history of the Douro region and finally his own family story. Mario explained how grapes grown by his grandfather were sold to make Port for the company Cockburns, how the winery became almost a ruin and how Mario made the decision to rebuild fusing old and new winemaking techniques.