Saturday, June 9, 2012

Report from ... Day 1: Portugal, Vinho Verde - June 9, 2012

Four days after arriving home, I find myself back in Europe for a tour of the Vinho Verde region of Portugal.  Day one was all about the travel, as we spend about 12 hours in the air ... but upon arrival you'll see that it wasn't just about hitting the sack and resting up for the big tour tomorrow.

Arrival at Tiara Hotel in Oporto
Our 5-star accommodations for nights 1, 4 and 5
Upon checking in my fascination with European bathrooms continues ... see the chain running down the middle of the wall - that's the emergency "alarme"
After more than 12 hours in airports and in the air we welcomed lunch at the hotel bar: I had a smoked chicken and apple wrap (no pic - I was too hungry to remember to get out the camera.
After an hour or so to rest up, we find ourselves in a Vinho Verde presentation before heading to dinner
Led by Carla, who told us all kinds of Vinho Verde facts - like the region has a 22 century wine-making history dating back to between 96 - 51 BC ... Vinho Verde is one of the largest demarcated regions in Europe, encompassing some 21,000 hectares ... 40% of Portuguese wine exports (excluding Port and Madeira) is Vinho Verde ... and the average yield is about 4kg per hectare.
She also introduced us to the new certification seal of approval on all Vinho Verde wines.
Next stop is dinner at bbGourmet - Bull & Bear
We started with this Varanda do Conde 2011 Alvarinho / Trajadura: lovely pineapple, grapefruit and mineral aromas with white peach stoniness on the palate - fresh, clean and pleasant on the finish (*** 1/2)
And there is was, right on the back of the bottle as promised, the seal of A-ok-ed-ness Carla had mention.
The wine was produced by a co-op winery called Provam - because of the large amount of growers (25,500) and small size of plots (129,000 parcels), co-ops make a lot of sense here.
First course: marinated sardine with glazed red bell pepper and rustic corn bread
First course deconstructed
Wine 2: Via Latina 2011 Loureiro - another co-op wine (Vercoope) ... it was okay on its own but came alive with the next course, adding saltiness and floral essence, depending with what you sipped it with.

The pairing: Turbot with juicy rice - the potato chip looking things on tp is actually Crispy Grilled Turbot Skin - do they sell these by the bag?.
Wine of the night: Alvarinho Deu-la-Deu Grande Escolha (Creat Choice) from co-op Moncao ... nose is grapefruit from pulp to pith which follows on the palate with a lovely juiciness (*** 1/2+)
It was paired with Roasted Veal in Mediterranean Flavours ... the meat was so tender you could cut it with a fork
The Dessert Menu ... some 30+ choices
But, before revealing dessert check out a Vinho Verde Rose ... our first experience with this new kind of wine from this region - it makes up only 2% of production.
A plethora of desserts prepares to leave the kitchen
I opted for this light chocolate mousse. Upon seeing this one of my traveling companions (Irv) asked if I had read The Help ...
The evening ended with tea and these chocolate chip wafers - light, delicate and delicious.

Tomorrow we head into the Vinho Verde region to start our tour - but now it's time for bed.


José Domingues said...

Sorry, I liked your work but the information about PROVAM isn´t complete/correct: You can see in more information.
Congratulations and thank you.

J. Domingues

Michael Pinkus said...

Just seeing this comment now Jose ... the information given in the post is as explained or as I understood it ... thanks for the clarification website.