If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Lisbon, we would definitely recommend the quirky Family Macedo 3* B&B www.familymacedo.com. The proprietor Antonio was very helpful with suggestions and recommendations of things to do whilst in Lisbon as well as places to call upon on our way back to The Algarve.
We found the best way to get to know Lisbon was either on foot, taking a vintage tram, or Metro and a tour on an one of the many open top deck tour buses.
Our first night we chose to sample a couple of wines that we had with us from Quinta do Portal: Mural 2011 – Malvasia Fina, Codega do Larinho & Gouveio: Aromatic and fresh citrus fruits Moscatel Reserva 2004: Tasting notes already presented
Wine Bar Do Castelo Lisbon
We came across this bar purely by accident. We were making our way to the castle when we passed this bar almost at journeys end. We continued to the castle but decided to forfeit the entrance fee and queue, returning to the wine bar which seemed to hold more of an attraction and we weren’t to be let down by this decision!
At this compact (and already almost full) bar, we were met by a friendly member of staff who greeted us and quickly directed us to one of the last available tables. He explained to us that wines could be tasted from around the various Portuguese wine regions with a “try before you buy” policy.
We were given the wine list, which was broken down into regions and their wines. We were then given the opportunity to pick three wines at a time – all for tasting prior to deciding on which wine to buy by the glass or bottle. A bowl of olives and bread was also provided “on the house” when the proprietor discovered that both he and ourselves had the Charles Metcalfe, The Wine and Food Lover’s Guide to Portugal.
This was a fantastic way in which to become more familiar with local varieties. All the staff seemed knowledgeable about each of the wines and their corresponding regions. Even better, they were enthusiastic about the wine and were more than happy to spend time chatting and discussing these. There was no pressure to purchase any of the wines tasted and we came away feeling that we had had a great evening with some very good wines and a much better understanding of Portuguese wines in general. If in Lisbon – do go! www.winebardocastelo.blogspot.com
The wines tasted by the glass:
Minho Soalheiro Alvarinho 2012: slightly herbaceous, floral and fruity – some peach and apple. Had some body to it with a good mouthfeel and finish
Quinta Do Ameal 2011 Branco Seco Dry White Wine – Made from the Loueiro grape: Zesty lime, fresh, with good acidity. Went really well with the herby garlic green olives in oil that we had on the table
Dao Sauzelhe 2008 – Encruzado & Malvasia Fina: We liked this one a lot! It possessed an almost Riesling/aged Semillon character with petrol like aromas. There was a lot of lemon citrus flavours with a waxy mouthfeel. Lovely colour and a great finish
Quinta Das Marias 2010 – Encruzado (13,500 bottles produced): Reminiscent of a well-balanced lightly oaked Chardonnay with vanilla hints, lemon cheesecake, fresh mouthfeel and lingering finish. When left to breath for a while more pronounced raisin and toffee flavours developed
Lisbon Casal Sta. Maria Vinho Branco 2010 (limited edition 5,800 bottles) – Chardonnay, Alvarinho, Sauvignon Blanc: This wine was recommended to try as it was local to the area. Fresh with a mineral edge, some tropical fruitiness
Alentejo Joao Grave Pera-Nova 2010 (limited edition 4,500 bottles) – Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet & Cabernet Sauvignon: Lots of fruit though very tannic – definitely needed food!
Douro Quinta Do Vallado 2010 – Touriga Nacional: Chocolate orange ginger spice (something we found typical of this grape). Medium bodied with good acidity and tannins. A very pleasant glass
Quinta Do Vallado 2011 – Sousao: We preferred this to the Touriga Nacional: Young in colour (almost inky purple that stuck to the sides of the glass), fresh summer fruits including elderberries, aromatic, chocolate, smooth, soft tannins. A great tipple to end our evening!
The Wines of Portugal – Lisbon www.winesofportugal.com
This is an organisation put together by the Portuguese wine industry that seeks to promote Portuguese wine. However, neither of us were particularly impressed by the set-up in Lisbon nor did we come away feeling that we had a better grasp of either the wines or the regions of Portugal.
We had first turned up at the premises in Terreiro do Paco Lisbon on a Monday, however, it was closed and it would seem that Monday is a day off for a lot of organisations in Portugal. Returning early the following day, the premises advertised being open between 11 and 7 (with a one hour lunch break) but the first presentation and tasting was not until 12. Unfortunately, there was not a huge amount of information on display to keep visitors busy while waiting and all printed material was only in Portuguese.
Eventually, the twenty or so people who had specifically arrived (or waited) for the presentation were assembled close to the wine counters that displayed various wines and producers. A member of staff began the talk by referring the group to a large map of Portugal on the wall. It was often hard to discern what was being said as in the background a Fado soundtrack was still being played.
The visit to the map and an explanation of the wine regions seemed very brief, so was the opportunity to taste wines that had been selected for that day, which did not seem to give a good reflection of the grape varieties or the regions. Also during the presentation, the phone rang – which the member of staff answered and then a delivery man arrived with goods to drop off that required signing for and delivery straight through us standing folk, who were hoping to become better acquainted with all things in Portuguese wine.
Afterwards, we were given the opportunity to purchase wine – we chose not to on this occasion. We came away thinking it was a real shame that things had not been presented and promoted that well. So if in Lisbon, go to Wine Bar do Castelo, they do things better!
Setubal Parus Sala Ogival 100% Antao Vaz 2010: Very pale colour with a slight petrol nose. Citrus fruit flavour. Nice acidity
Quinta do Monte Alegre Palmela Colheita Selection 2009 – Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah: Fresh black fruits, cedar and drying tannins – would need food
Alentejo Pontval Reserva 2006 – Alicante Bouschet, Syrah & Touriga Nacional: Red fruits, Cherries, Red currants, acidity shone through more than the tannins as these seemed quite low
Douro Quinta das Lamelas Reserva 2008 – Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Roriz one year in French oak: Red and black fruits, soft tannins not much on the nose – can’t say that we were much impressed!
If you want somewhere to do a little more wine poncing, then why not visit The Garrafeira Nacional www.garrafeiranacional.com where you can press your face against the glass partition in the fine wine section and stare for a while (however, do ensure that it is not long enough to cause concern from the shop’s staff).
Here, you can see for yourself 200 year old+ Madeira, Vintage Ports dating back to the 19th Century, Barca Velha, Casa Ferreirinha, Romanee-Conti 2008, Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1961, Chateau Cheval Blanc 1961, C. Marey & Cte Liger-Belair Richenourg 1947, Penfolds Bin collections, etc etc.