Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Spain and Portugal - part seven

After a great time in the lovely city of Porto we, headed about 60km north east, passing through the town of Braga before reaching the small village of Amares in the heart of Minho region … Vinho Verde wine country. We were fortunate to be given the keys by Fernando to his estate Solar Das Boucas just on the outskirts of the town.

Fernando is the eldest son of the famous Van Zeller family who until 1993 owned the great Quinta Do Noval port house. Fernando is now in charge of family wine affairs and has also inherited the title of Baron!

Eventually we found the estate and what a beautiful place! Here we met Sophia, who lives here and looks after the estate. She took us down the drive, passing the high trellised vines, before reaching the magnificent manor house where we then learnt that we would have the whole place to ourselves tonight! As soon as we entered the house and I saw the kitchen, I was itching to get back into town and get cooking for the first time this trip!

Upstairs the view out onto the luscious green rolling vineyards was amazing. We were soon down in the swimming pool next to the vines, shaded by a lemon tree covered with the most enormous lemons. And we had to have a taste of Fernando’s Vinho Verde!

Sitting amongst the vines on a hot day with a glass of cold, spritzy Vinho Verde is a must for any wine lover. The wines here are made from Alvarinho, Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Batoca, Loureiro, and Trajadura grapes and are light in alcohol normally between 9-11%vol. The wines are bottled and consumed young, before the freshness and natural spritz disappears. It immediately becomes evident why it is called ‘the green wine’ as the edges of the youthful wine are tinged green. Outside, in Fernando’s garden, the greenness seemed to be enhanced even more by the reflection of the vineyards. A perfectly refreshing drink!

We were starting to get hungry so we needed to head into the small town to get some supplies for tonight’s now-planned feast for two. In the town we managed to find a fishmongers and a grocery store where I bought some fresh black sea bream, small green pimentos, a cheese called Serra de Estrela and a first for me; a bottle of red Vhino Verde.

We thoroughly enjoyed the freshness of the meal and the zesty Vinho Verde white went very well with the pan fried bream and green pimentos. But the surprise of the evening was the fantastic red which tasted like a white and was a very good match with the sheep milk cheese.

We decided to get a good night’s sleep as tomorrow the Baron and the Van Zeller clan (apparently 40 of them) are arriving at the estate to celebrate Alvaro’s birthday!


No comments: