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Victor de la Serna

Tag Archives: Alentejo

Value wine: I do not think it means what you think it means.

I was at a tasting a few days ago in Porto where the presenter pointed out at the beginning of their talk that they wanted to focus on “value wines”. However, he then continued by saying that, with regret, while that was the goal, he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. He felt that he needed to show some wines at higher price points instead to show what Portuguese wines were really capable of. When I heard this I was a bit shocked. It reminded me of a scene from what is possibly one of the greatest films ever made, The Princess Bride. Throughout a series of challenges, the ‘mastermind’ Vizzini keeps repeating the word “Inconceivable” until eventually, the […]

Peixe em Lisboa: Exploring Restaurant SeaMe in Lisbon

There is no doubt that the Portuguese love their fish, especially Lisboners. With the capital of Lisbon located right in the middle of the country’s extensive coastline, fresh fish has been a staple in the local’s diets since the beginning of time. However, it is only in the last couple of years that the city, and its restaurants in particular, decided to showcase their passion, culminating into the annual event, Peixe em Lisboa – “Lisbon Fish & Flavors.  Now in its sixth season, and growing larger every year, this 11 day gastronomic exposition, held in Pátio da Galé located in downtown Terreiro do Paço square at the edge of the river, runs from April 4-14th and is organized by Turismo de Lisboa with the help of Essencia do […]

Red Grape Varieties of the Mediterranean Deserving More Attention

Ever wondered why the same small bunch of grape varieties bobs up so frequently from wine regions around the world? There are many hundreds of different grapes out there, but only a small handful of them have managed to become widely grown and internationally known. Mostly grapes have to settle for limited local fame on their home turf. As far as red wines and black grapes are concerned the core range of grapes grown worldwide is really only Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Pinot Noir. I know some of you will take issue and say that I have ignored Malbec, Zinfandel or Pinotage – or something else that is dear to your heart, but really apart from the four I […]

Portuguese Wine Pack to Entertain Family without Breaking the Bank

Despite Portugal being one of the smallest countries in southern-western Europe—about the size of the state of Indiana—it is blessed with contrasting terroirs and region-specific wine varietals that result in an abundance of wine and spirits offerings. Home to the Douro Valley, the oldest demarcated wine region in the world, Portugal’s long-standing tradition in wine-making coupled with modern efforts, has contributed to a lengthy list of quality drinking choices from the North to the South of the country and practically everywhere in between. You can expect everything from “Espumantes” and fortified wines, including the famous Port wines, to brandies and aged aguardentes (fiery water, if you will), and even Portuguese-only wines like the young fizzy “Vinho Verde” and “Vinho Verde […]

Harvest 2011: A Look Around Spain and Portugal

What is the harvest looking like in Spain and Portugal? Having put in a few calls from across the peninsula, the answers varied tremendously. So rather than interpret it from our standpoint, we felt it would be more appropriate to post information directly from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. However, if you’re a winery that wasn’t included, please send us an email, or leave a comment below, with your take on the 2011 Vintage! Thanks to everyone who submitted, and we hope this year turned out to be a great one for you! Cheers! Linaje Garsea – Ribera del Duero, Spain In general, we have noticed older grapes reaching sugar levels 10-15 days earlier than normal, predicting an early […]

Choosing Your Top 50 Portuguese Wines?

Every year, ViniPortugal elects a UK journalist to choose their top 50 Portuguese wines. In 2010, our friend Sarah Ahmed created a fabulous list of wines and was followed up this year by an equally impressive list by Tom Cannavan.  A few days ago, the wines were announced in London at the Portuguese Ambassador’s Residence in Belgrave Square, and as much as we would have loved to attend, alas, we were celebrating from afar – but closer to the source! Not surprisingly, a healthy chunk of the wines are sourced from the Alentejo, Douro and Dao, but we’re elated to see a few stragglers sneak their way in from lesser known regions such as the Tejo, Algarve and Colares. Admittedly, […]

Pairing Wines with Portugal’s Faithful Friend: Bacalhau

Editor’s note: In 2009, Catavino contributor Andrea Smith dove into the origins, popularity and over-fishing of cod fish or “Bacalhau” in my native Portuguese. Today, I pick up where Andrea left off with a greater focus on how to prepare the dry, salted version of this flavorful fish, featuring four dishes and a few wines to pair it with. Often referred to as “Rei dos Mares” (King of the Seas), dry, salted cod is quite popular in Mediterranean countries, like Italy and Spain, and especially in Portugal where they boast 1,000 cod fish recipes. Bacalhau or “Fiel Amigo” as the Portuguese nicknamed it meaning faithful friend, picked up in Portugal during the Age of Discovery when navigators took the unrefrigerated […]

Pairing Portuguese Wines with Roasted Fowl

On cold winter evenings there’s nothing more heartwarming for this writer than a chicken roasting in the oven. The scent of herby seasonings enchant my senses and transport me to my mother’s kitchen in New Jersey where she roasts to perfection just as she learned to do back in the Old Country. In America, roasted turkey is considered one of the coziest meals in this country’s culinary repertoire. To meld the flavors of the Old and New worlds in my own kitchen, I need only to turn to my mother, Maria do Ceu, who along with her seven siblings was raised in the sleepy village of Bemposta do Campo in the interior Beira Baixa region of Portugal where roasting in […]

Charity Should go Well Beyond the Wallet: Summary of the World Wine Tour 2010 in Iberia

Many months ago, Wink Lorch of the Wine Travel Guides, contacted us with a request: could we help two passionate wine lovers collect Iberian wines to be auctioned in Hong Kong, in order for the proceeds to go to a charity working to help underprivileged children in Laos? Normally, I would scream “yes” without blinking an eye; but admittedly, I was extraordinarily hesitant. Though Spain and Portugal are renowned for having several amazing characteristics, charity for those outside their physical borders is not one of them. Hence, the idea of organizing a 10+ day charity trip throughout Iberia with the full support of local wineries and governments was not only overwhelming, but completely out my realm of my experience. But […]

Vinho Verde Wine Selection Reverts to Regional Portuguese Recipe

I’m pretty certain my father-in-law buys an extra dozen clams just for me each time he whips up his special recipe for the family. It’s not uncommon to catch him staring over at me as I devour mounds of the shellfish and sop up the garlicky sauce with Portuguese rolls. “Soninha,” he says, teasingly. “Come on that’s it? There’s more in the pot.” Without hesitance, I dump more clams and sauce into my bowl and pour another glass of Casal Garcia vinho verde. I can go all night. For 16 years now, my father-in-law (or Mr. Ze as I endearingly call him) has been feeding me his version of the popular Portuguese petisco “Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato” in his Jersey […]