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Lisbon & Lisboa for wine lovers

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Lisbon is a popular weekend break destination and, for wine lovers, there’s good reason to make a bee-line for the capital.  I spent last week in and around the city with team Blend All About Wine exploring the Lisboa region’s wines.  Here are my photo highlights to tempt you to visit too.

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If I had to single out one region to visit make it Colares in the spectacularly beautiful old Moorish city of Sintra.  Like its neighbour Carcavelos in Cascais it has a truly unique wine culture and, just a stone’s throw from Lisbon, is located alongside expansive sandy surf beaches with great fish restaurants if Nortada Restaurant at Praia Grande is anything to go by – terrific sea bass and a wonderful view of the ocean.

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Adega Colares, a co-operative, dominates wine production here.  No prizes for guessing which variety its winemaker Xico Ramsico (Francisco Figuieredo) likes best – here pictured with both of his newly re-packaged “babies” Adega Colares Arenae Malvasia and Adega Colares Arenae Ramisco.

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Adega Colares’ winery features these idiosyncratic wooden amphorae auto-vinifiers.

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Just as idiosyncratic are the vineyards – back-breaking work to harvest these aged, ungrafted vines which sprawl across the region’s famous sandy soils.

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The cane fences behind Casca Wines’ Helder Cunha protect the vines from the Atlantic’s salty winds. The young gun’s modern take on Colares (the subject of my recent Blend feature here) includes fermenting his wines in more conventional barrels.

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Also new to the game is 103 year old Baron Bruemmer, who founded Europe’s westernmost vineyard at Casal Santa Maria at the sprightly age of 96!  As you can see from the first pumping, he has an uncommon amount of energy and determination.  I tasted some exciting wines here.

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Meanwhile José Baeta’s family have been around for a while and I suspect that the shop at Adega Viúva Gomes has changed little – a great place to pick up mature stock for a song.

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Moving north and inland the cellars at Quinta do Sanguinhal Bombarral, Óbidos DOC (pictured below) are also atmospheric.  I wasn’t terribly excited by the wines but award winning tours offer an insight into the history of the Lisboa region.

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Close to Sanguinhal you’ll find a lovely restaurant – Mãe d’Água – where I enjoyed some succulent, sweet clams dressed with lemon juice, garlic and parsley Portuguese style (the spaghetti less so!)

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Visiting southern neighbour the Alenquer DOC  I at last made it to Quinta da Chocapalha’s spacious, stylish gravity-fed winery and cellar door.

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Together with Quinta do Monte D’Oiro, the two family-owned boutique winery pioneers have shown why the sheltered DOC of Alenquer is so well suited to reds.  Food friendly, elegant wines at that which Monte d’Oiro’s founder José Bento dos Santos (pictured below right) presented with Portuguese specialities prepared by former rugby pal now chef Nuno Duniz.

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Switching sports from rugby to football, ex-professional goalkeeper Andre Manz of Manz is these days focused on saving Jampal – a white grape variety which he re-discovered in the exceptionally pretty, historic village of Cheleiros.   Focused he may be but not without a sense of humour as he posed in the barber’s chair at his cellar door/museum.

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Our final day of travels introduced us to two father and son teams, both working organically and making textural, highly characterful (in a good way) wines.  Pedro Marques is the first member of his family to be qualified in winemaking and to bottle wines from the family estate under the Vale da Capucha label from DOC Torres Vedras.

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At Quinta da Serradinha in DO Encostas D’Aire Antonio Cruz junior pictured with Antonio senior is a chip off the old block.  His love of traditional wines made with skin contact led him to buy these beautiful old amphorae.

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In the city itself I was wowed by Estado D’Alma Wine Shop – a wine lovers’ paradise – where I picked up this wonderful 1969 Colares Branco for a song (pictures from my visit and tasting note here).  It has a great selection of contemporary Portuguese wines too as does DeliDelux Wine Shop which fronts onto the Tagus.  Both also serve good food – deli plates at DeliDelux, more substantial fare at Estado D’Alma (whose wine bar is several minutes drive from the shop).

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