Summer memories of Portugal: 2012 Defesa von Esporão

That’s one of the beauties of wine: it can transport feelings and memories through time and space. In early October I’ve been to the Alentejo in Portugal where it was still summer, the golden sunlight bathing the beautiful roughness of the landscape. Of course, that trip was all about wine and food and the first stop was at Herdade de Esporão, the region’s most important wine producer. But instead of a wine tasting, we went first to their vegetable garden and then straight to the kitchen.

Esporaokochwein As you can see (and, admit, always suspected), the life of a wine and food writer is hard… It was a great pleasure to meet Miguel Vaz who is in charge of the Esporão kitchen. We could have talked forever about food, cooking, chefs, music, philosophy… well, life in general. I learnt a lot about Alentejo cuisine (look out for my article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung some time in January) and local ingredients. Açorda de beldroigas is a broth flavoured with pennyroyal, garlic, onions and cilantro, and served with fresh goat cheese, bread and a poached egg. Gorgeous. Even better was the fact that we had some absolutely delicious dry-cured ham from the famous acorn-fed black Iberico pigs to nibble on – and the first wine of the trip: 2012 Vinha da Defesa is made from the local indigineous varieties Antão Vaz, Arinto and Roupeiro and is shockful of the sundrenched liveliness of this country. I served it to a group of friends a few days ago in the dark wintercold that is Berlin at this time of the year, and we could all feel and taste its message: the sun will be back.


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