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3 Portuguese Whites + 4 Friends + Mushroom Risotto and Drunken Pears = Pure Happiness

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I love home cooked meals, especially when I’m in a foreign culture, enjoying their traditional cuisine. I love the anticipation as exotic aromas float in the air, the great conversations that lead up to the first bite and the fervent energy that zips throughout the room as glances are stolen into the kitchen wondering how much time is left before the oven timer goes “ding”.

On this particular night, our friend Beatriz cooked up a feast for six in her Lisbon apartment overlooking the Vasco de Gama bridge. Moses and Eddie from Algarve Buzz, myself and Ryan, Andre Ribeirinho from Adegga and his girlfriend, Beatriz, scheduled a “get to know you” dinner during our quick 2 day tour in Lisbon a few weeks ago; sadly however, we only got a few hours with the two man grew from the Algarve Buzz, as they needed to make their long journey back to Faro in the southern tip of Portugal. So although they couldn’t join us for the meal, we did make the most of our time by tasting three new wines, while aromas of mushroom risotto and red wine drunken pears wafted into the dining room. As I’m sure you can relate, on an empty stomach, there is nothing more dangerous than tasting wines in such delicious conditions ;-)

We tasted the 2004 Quinta de Paços Arinto Reserva, 2005 Casa de Paços Loureiro and Arinto and the 2006 Planalto Douro Reserva.

The Casa and Quinta de Paços most likely owes its name to an ancient court (or vilae), at a time when the parish of Rio Côvo (Santa Eulália) was a roman thermal resort. What exactly is a roman thermal resort, not sure, but it sounds a bit kinky. With 400 years of grape growing under their belt, this family owned winery, located in the heart of the northern regional wine designation, VR Minho, owns 200 hectares under vine distributed between two provinces, Barcelos and Monção. In Barcelos, grapes are sourced from three distinct vineyards: Quinta de Paços, Quinta da Cotovia and Quinta de Vila Meã, and taken to the winery, Rio Covo Stª Eulália, come harvest. While in Monção, the grapes are only sourced from two vineyards, Casa do Capitão-mor and Quinta da Boavista, and carried to their second winery called, Mazeda, for processing. For centuries, the family’s mission has been to produce high quality wines that reflect the terrior without excessive processing or harmful chemicals or pesticides. Alice Feiring would be proud.

The Planalto label falls under the massive Sogrape umbrella. Planalto, meaning “plateau” in Portuguese, originates from their Vila Real winery located on a high altitude plateau in the Douro, protected from the Atlantic winds by the Serra do Marão mountains. Made from the traditional Minho white varieties such as Malvasia Fina, Viosinho, Gouveio and Códega, the grapes were hand-picked, softly crushed and fermented separately by variety, or plot, in controlled stainless steel vats at 16º-18ºC for approximately 20 days. Finally, the wines were blended, clarified and then stabilized before bottling.

To be honest, all three wines are worth trying, but one in particular caught our attention, the 2004 Casa de Paços Arinto Reserva. At first, the six of us were convinced the wine was flawed as a result of it’s peculiar honeycomb, lychee and saffron aromas, but over time, the intensity of these contrasting aromas merged into an attractive, albeit slightly oxidized, bouquet. Granted, this wine was odd, but with its round, lush mouthfeel, medium acidity and long, honey and pear finish, this is most definitely a wine to experience.

Neither of the Casa de Paços wines are readily available outside of Portugal, but they are currently looking for importers in Germany, Poland, Holland and France. Scroll down for our full tasting notes.

We also would would like to thank Beatriz for taking the time to translate and send both recipes she whipped up for us that night. They were delicious and look forward to many more of her creations in the future!

Cheers,

Gabriella

Mushroom Risotto

20g of dried porcini mushrooms
400g of fresh mushrooms
4 cups of risotto
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp of Vermouth
40g of butter
40g Parmesan
2 dried tomatoes
1 lemon
basil
curcuma and ginger

Put the dried porcini mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. Then cut the fresh mushrooms and dried mushrooms, and put them in a frying-pan with olive oil, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and basil. In a separate pan, add olive oil, spices and onion. Add the dried tomatoes, and after a few minutes, add the risotto. Mix everything together.
Add hot water to the risotto and mix well. When the water cooks into the risotto, add a little more water. Continue this cycle until the risotto is cooked. Finally, add the butter, Parmesan, vermouth, lemon juice and the mushrooms.

Drunk pears

6 pears
100g sugar
2,5 dl red wine
7,5 dl water
1 cinnamon stick and 1 lemon peel

In a low pan (where the pears fit), add water and sugar over a low/med flame. When the sugar is dissolved, add the wine, the cinnamon stick and the lemon peel. Put the pears in the pan and turn them from time to time. Approximately 45 min later, the pears should be cooked.

Gabriella’s Tasting Notes

  • 2006 Vinhos Sogrape Douro Planalto Reserva – Portugal, Douro (6/10/2008)
    Medium yellow in hue with an aromatic bouquet of lemon cream pie, lemon grass, pineapple and caramel, followed by a wave of mature passion fruit and poached pears. In the mouth, the wine was creamy and lush, with a racy, crisp acidity, medium body and a long elegant lemon and pear finish. Overall, a well integrated, sultry white that paired beautifully with our mushroom risotto entree.
  • 2004 Quinta de Paços Vinho Regional Minho Arinto Reserva – Portugal, Minho, Vinho Regional Minho (6/10/2008)
    Light honey in color with a truly peculiar nose of honeycomb, saffron, chicken paella and lychee, not to mention the slight oxidized aromas that linger. Hence, it’s no wonder we thought this wine was completely off kilter in the beginning before we gave it a few moments to chill out, allowing the aromas to integrate and meld into one another to create a funky but enticing bouquet. In the mouth, the wine showed nice acidity, with an intense metallic kick right near the tip of the tongue. Medium body with a dry fresh finish of honey, pear and lychee, this is a truly intriguing little wine. Slightly past its prime, its still worth exploring!
  • 2005 Quinta de Paços Vinho Regional Minho Reserva – Portugal, Minho, Vinho Regional Minho (6/10/2008)
    Light citrus in color with a lovely iridescent hue. On the nose, the wine showed notes of pistachio, creamy vanilla, candy pear and bolstered by a dense and fresh lime aroma. In the mouth, the wine is crisp and fresh throughout, with a medium body and a short, delicate finish of almond, mature, fleshy pear and sweet cream. Nice delicate, subtle wine that pairs beautifully with a fresh summer salad. 3.5/5
    • Pingback: Mini Wine Tasting with Catavino & Adegga

    • Francisco

      The drunken pears recipe looks great, a must try. Thanks for posting along with notes for those intriguing Vinhos Regionais from Minho.

    • http://enotheque.blogspot.com Francisco

      The drunken pears recipe looks great, a must try. Thanks for posting along with notes for those intriguing Vinhos Regionais from Minho.

    • Gabriella

      Francisco- You are very welcome my friend, but if you do attempt this recipe, please let us know how it turns out and if you would suggest any modifications. It's always fun to hear about people's creative twists ;-)

    • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

      Francisco- You are very welcome my friend, but if you do attempt this recipe, please let us know how it turns out and if you would suggest any modifications. It’s always fun to hear about people’s creative twists ;-)

    • Moses

      It was great to finally get together in person with you and Ryan and enjoy a few bottles of wine.

    • Moses

      It was great to finally get together in person with you and Ryan and enjoy a few bottles of wine.

    • Andrea

      The mushroom risotto recipe sounds sounds really good, I make a mean risotto myself so I might have to try that sometime. I have heard of Quinta do Pacos wine before but have not had the chance to try it yet, maybe I'll include that vineyard on my next trip up north :)

    • Andrea

      The mushroom risotto recipe sounds sounds really good, I make a mean risotto myself so I might have to try that sometime. I have heard of Quinta do Pacos wine before but have not had the chance to try it yet, maybe I’ll include that vineyard on my next trip up north :)