Food and Wine Writing

“This singular microclimate, at 750 meters above sea level, with warm days and cool Atlantic breeze nights gives us some beautiful aromatic wines: a white organic made with the indigenous Siria grape presented a lush cream and almonds nose and the restrained red with a bouquet of forest berries scents, a dark cherry jam palate, and a long finish –characteristic of well-executed wines made with Touriga’s grapes.”  

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By Maya Plentz

London, March 2016

The 2016 Atlantico Distributor Portfolio Tasting showcased some of Portugal’s finest cheese and organic wine producers.  I attended a master class led by The Hampton Cheese and Wine Company, with the producers themselves introducing four unctuous, elegant, and spicy cheeses made the traditional way, with minimal intervention, and no added colours or other chemicals that are often present in mass produced industrial cheeses.

These cheeses are perfect accompanied by a saline white Siria, and the 100% Touriga Nacional Reserva 2012, of Quinta do Cardo. These are wines to drink right away and the Reserva to keep perhaps for 4 to 5 years more.

The four regional cheeses presented:  Azeitao PDO (PDO means controled provenance), Terrincho – which is aged in rye and brandy for 90 days, and the Sao Jorge, aged 12 months, and my favourite: the soft Sao Romao (pictured), an “amanteigado” or “buttery” style cheese, has a pungency and creaminess which makes it extremely versatile, one could have the 100% Touriga Reserva or even a sweet wine, a Port or Sauternes, with it.

At around £10 plus VAT per bottle for the organic red blend 2014 of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Touriga Franca –  if ordering a case of six –  you cannot dream of a better match. The 100% Touriga Nacional Reserve is roughly under £20 plus VAT, also great value.  Both wines go well with the soft and unctuous sheep’s milk cheeses as well as the cheddar–like cow’s milk Sao Jorge from the Azores island, with its firm and crumbly texture.

Quinta do Cardo’s vineyards are situated north of Lisbon and enjoy an Atlantic microclimate. The estate sits on 80 hectares of limestone and slate soil, mostly planted with indigenous grapes.

This singular microclimate, at 700 metres above sea level, with warm days and cool Atlantic breeze nights gives us some beautiful aromatic wines: a white organic made with the indigenous Siria grape presented a lush cream and almonds nose and the restrained red with a bouquet of forest berries scents, a dark cherry jam palate, and a long finish –characteristic of well-executed wines made with Touriga’s grapes.

The floral notes of the 30 days aged Azeitao by Simoes Queijaria are obtained by slowly draining the curds after coagulation of the raw sheep’s milk own salt with thistle flower rennet.  It has a very mild pleasant odor and lingering buttery taste, redolent of Summer vacations in sunny countries. It goes well with, you guessed right, a sweet ruby-coloured Port too – for good contrast and for cutting throught the delicious fatty milky aftertaste.

Photos Copyright © Maya Plentz

 

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