Sunday, June 10, 2012

Report from ... Day 2: Portugal, Vinho Verde - June 10, 2012

Day 2 was a rather lackluster affair, unfortunately, with few really good wines to speak about and a whole lotta walking tours of old cities ... I hope the pictures are at least exciting - let's take a look:
The day, as always, starts on the bus ...
Our day outside the bus begins in the city of Guimaraes, the city that started Portugal on its road to nationhood in 1143 ... known as the cradle of the Portuguese nation.

This is the castle of Guimaraes
Here you can read all about it ...
Inside the castle walls

Today only the stone exterior survives, as the interior fell into disrepair
This is "the keep" - the safest place to avoid attack in a medieval town
The castle is one of Portugal's seven wonders, and the only one in the north ... this is the award to prove it.

View from atop the castle wall
And surrounding countryside
Starting our walk down the historical streets of Guimaraes
The "phone directory" in 1883 ... the number coincided with the number of times one had to ring the bell to alert danger (fire, theft, etc) in one of the listed places.
Rua de Santa Maria (Santa Maria Street)

The first street in Guimaraes, established in the 10th century
Fellow Canadian, Irv, plays king for a minute.
Santiago Square - the outline in the middle represents the chapel that once stood there.
Our final view of the city of Guimaraes

Arrival at Afros Winery - a bio-dynamic producer
Run by this man:  Vasco Croft (no relation to the Port House)
We see his tanks ... but it is not the focus of this tour.

It is his passion for bio-dynamics practices.
In the vineyard

This is his "bio-hut" or preparation hut where the magic and mystique of bio-dynamics happens.
This is where the potions and lotions are made and stored, so that someday the juices doth flow.

Speaking of flow ...
Meet the "flow form fountain" - the shapes the water flow through help to cleanse the water.
This is the natural rock formation with an organic Frankfurt can growing out of it ...
Inside a light snack of Brie and Figs ...
and this smoked fish concoction awaited us.
Irv worships at the Bio-Dynamic alter
Afros (Aphros) line up of wines ... take note of spelling on bottles
Vasco changed the spelling after some research in the US revealed to him that "Afros" "were a black persons' hairdo" - the new spelling represents the Greek spelling and represents the foam, in Greek mythology, from which Aphrodite was born..

Irv contemplates lunch
Ask and ye shall receive: melon soup with 2011 Loureiro
Red wine poached chestnuts and octopus wrapped with Sarano ham
served with Afros 2006 Reserva sparkling Vinhao (red grape)
This is the delicacy known as Patanegra, black pig, or literally translated as "Black Foot"
Paired with a 2011 and 2009 Aphros / Afros Vinhao (unoaked) - the 2009 showed much better with its toned down acidity and black cherry fruit. (*** 1/2)

Dessert was a delightful lemon mousse
Made from thee lemon trees located out in Vasco's backyard.

All prepared by this nameless woman (I am sure she has a name, but we were never told it)
A quick visit to the Viticultural Research Center for a tasting of  ...

Five award winning wines as the best of Vinho Verde, selected at the "Melhores Verdes" awards
This was the well deserved #1 wine: Quinta de Gomariz 2011 Loureiro Colheita Seleccionale ... very Sauvignon Blanc in its aromas with lime and grassy notes, all the way through. (*** 1/2+)
Our final stop was to the city of Ponte de Lima

Two dogs watch us arrive (one more than the other)
While a cat eyes us up as we walk by

The histroical Pringles and Blue Diamond nut dispensers in town... a hive of activity.
The City Hall
Sheila decides she ain't taking anymore bull

We walk the tree lined streets to the hotel - InLima
After a quick layover we find ourselves at Restaurante Acude for dinner

in a vary casual setting over-looking the river
Hosted by the co-op de Ponte de Lima
Dinner is a fish fiesta: traditional salted cod balls

And the seafood platter with four kinds of fish
Tomorrow we are off to the Moncao and Melgaco sub-region of Vinho Verde where some of the best producers and best wines are made ... we shall see.  For now I wish you a good night from Portugal.

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