onsdag den 21. januar 2015

Guide to Wine Tourism in Portugal

With the deserved growing popularity of Portuguese wine, wine tourism in the country is growing as well. More and more people want to explore the many different faces of Portuguese wines, and naturally the producers are getting more professional when it comes to welcoming wine tourists.
A new guidebook testifies this. “Guide to Wine Tourism in Portugal” is written by the Portuguese journalist and wine writer Maria João de Almeida and is a tour around the different wine regions with presentations of a lot of different adegas and quintas. What the places have in commons is off course, that they produce wine, but more than that. They are those, who “know how to welcome guests, those with open arms and smiles on their faces, those who tell their history and make you taste their wines with the same passion and enthusiasm they produced them with”, as Maria is writing in the introduction.
In 12 chapters the book focuses on regions like Douro, Alentejo, Bairrada, Dão. Madeira and Algarve. Besides that Porto has its own chapter due to the Port lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia. All chapters have a short introduction with a little map, telling about the region, the grapes and the wines. After that follows openings with information about each chosen producer and finally some information about hotels and restaurants. All openings have information about the producer and the winemaker, the possibilities when it comes to wine tourism and suggestions for wine tasting. 
As an example we hear about the Bucasso Palace Hotel and the Baga grape variety in the chapter about Bairrada. After that we are introduced to Adega Luís Pato, where it is possible to visit his personal wine cellar and have a regional lunch with roast suckling pig.
The adegas and quintas are both well known and less known. In the Douro, which is the region where I have the best first hand knowledge, the book visits quintas like Crasto, Panascal, Seixo and Ervarmoira and places like Quinta do Pôpa and Quinta do Pessegueiro. In Porto it mentions the following lodges: Cálem, Ramos Pinto, Ferreira, Real Companhia Velha, Sandeman, Graham´s, Taylor´s and Porto Cruz. They are different when it comes to size and quality, but they all have something to offer visitors – and that is exactly the point.  
When it comes to restaurants in Porto the author has chosen to focus on the Gaia side as well, which in my opinion is a pity. Of course places like Taylor´s Barão de Fladgate and Graham´s Vinum are naturally choices, but I miss some very good places on the other side of the Douro like O Gaveto in Matosinhos – just to mention one.

The layout is beautiful and rustic with tinted pages and stains of wine. It sends the signal that it is a book for use, but now and then it unfortunately makes it more different to read. Another minus is a small mistake on one of the maps. You will find Quinta do Portal in the Douro somewhere between Sambrosa and Pinhão and not North West of Peso da Régua as shown on the map. A minor detail perhaps, but not unimportant in a guidebook.
All in all it is great and tempting book. If you are reading it back home – perhaps with a glass of wine or Port in your hand – it gives you inspiration for your next trip to Portugal. And you can have it with you on the road too.
For someone like me who both enjoy travelling in Portugal’s different landscapes and regions and who are passionate about Portuguese wine and Port, it is a joyride to read the book. Until now it is published in Portuguese and English, but it deserves to be translated into other languages as well.

Maria João de Almeida: Guide to Wine Tourism in Portugal. Zestbooks 2014, 357 pages.

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