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Victor de la Serna

Tag Archives: Madeira

Off the beaten track in Porto – Simplesmente Vinho

What do you call a group of small, artisan wine producers at a tasting? If you’re in France or Italy, the “natural wine” moniker might well rear its head. The suggestion being that these are winemakers who eschew overtly industrial production methods, intervene less and attempt above all else to express their terroir. The less charitable may claim this merely means long beards, stinky wines and radical stances on sulphur. In Portugal things are a little different. Here, no-one seems that interested in defining such a slippery category – least of all the 23,000+ visitors to Porto’s annual Essencia do Vinho tasting. The mix of trade and consumer attendees are packed in tighter than sardines, and beating a path to your favourite producer’s stand can turn into […]

Part 1: Interview with Roy Hersh of FTLOP – Portuguese Culture

Editor’s Note: Fortified guru Roy Hersh has been a dear friend of ours for many years. “For the Love of Port” grown tremendously since day one, attracting loyal readers spanning the globe as result of his passion, expertise and desire to share his newfound treasures.  Hence, whenever a question about Portuguese fortified wine stumbles across our keyboards, we quickly turn to Roy. Today, he will give us his perspective on a few undiscovered culinary and vinous treats, followed in a second article on the current state of Port in North America. Thank you Roy for your time! #1: It’s been awhile since we talked about FTLOP, how has it developed? What are you most proud of? FTLOP continues to evolve […]

Iberian Book Review: The Wines of Madeira by Trevor Elliott

I must begin with a confession. I was never very fond of school. I endured the typical K through College plus before severing myself devoting full time to my own interests. I have no gooey stories about the teacher who inspired my life. I can’t sit still for Goodbye Mr. Chips and fail to stay awake for Mr. Holland and his opus. There is just no sentimental trigger in me in this school notion. It could be the ever presence of Sister Mary Darth Vadar who tracked my early years with her constant heavy breathing and cheerless response to my imaginative antics. In terms of how to amuse my classmates she said “why?”, and I was inspired to say “why not”? In my youth, I […]

Mass Destruction in Madeira: Help Us Make a Difference!

When disaster strikes close to home, it is our job as a community to stand strong and lend a hand. And although we may not be in the heart of the chaos, we can sympathize with their fears, empathize with the daunting task of rebuilding a community and offer our time and energy to provide any worthwhile support that is deemed useful. For the past 5 years, Iberia has been our home, our place of refuge and opportunity. We, with little knowledge of its culture and traditions, were welcomed with opened arms. They mended me when I broke both my hand and foot, gave me a job when I decided to work with children, and provided us with ample wine […]

Fondillón: A Very Unique Style of Sweet Spanish Wine from Alicante

Coming across Fondillón is a bit like meeting Samuel Taylor Coleridge‘s Ancient Mariner, buttonholing you with stories of ancient glories and disaster. You’re half fascinated and half disbelieving. Yet he starts pulling bits and pieces out of his pockets – there is the price list of leading Alicante wine merchants Maisonnave & Co. from the nineteenth-century showing that its top Fondillon cost 800 francs per hectolitre, while its top Port cost 153, its top Sherry 204, its top Madeira 272. But what happened? The other wines mentioned may have their ups and downs, but they are still household names and are still drunk enthusiastically in their places of origin and appear on international wine lists. In Alicante itself you’d have […]

Studying for the WSET with Fortified Spanish and Portuguese Wines

About 3 years after bagging the certificate – I have no idea how the time flew by so fast – I finally signed up to the WSET diploma late in 2008. My first two exams were in March 2009. One about viticulture and vinification in what my father likes to call the “multiple-guess” format. The other was a case-study with a batch of questions needing essay-style answers. The old grey cells are not what they used to be and I am notoriously bad at writing essays under pressure, so I was very suprised (and pleased) to pass both exams, especially the second. I’m still half-convinced the “I’m sorry, we sent you the wrong results letter” will appear at any moment. […]

Vinho & Coisas: A Unique and Innovative Wine Shop near Porto, Portugal

Founded in 2004, Vinho & Coisas is a small and intimate wine shop situated along the Portuguese coast in Matosinhos, nestled just north of Porto near Parque de Cidade. Managed by Ivone Ribeiro, an individual whose passion is visceral and expressive the minute she walks in the door, with toddler in hand, Vinho & Coisas speaks of a delicate mix of both professionalism and education. “Our goal is to get people excited about wine. For example, we have free tastings where everyone brings a bottle priced between 5 to 10 euros. And regardless as to where bought the bottle, after we all taste one another’s contribution, everyone can take home a bottle from our shop valued at the same price […]

Top 5 Romantic Spanish and Portuguese Wines

Valentine’s Day is once again upon us; a day for which some ignore, some rebel against, and some embrace for fear of reprisal. However, there are those that actually like this intensely guilt ridden and consumer frenzied day, regardless of its flaws, as they see it as an opportunity to be ever so sweet and loving to one’s honey. Fine dinner, fresh bouquets of flowers, and of course, fine wines grace their table. For those of you who fall into the latter category, adoring the everything embodying the 14th of February, what are the truly “romantic”, and dare we say, sexy wines of Iberia? What wines are guaranteed heart stoppers when wooing that special someone? (Flickr photo by kalandrakas) We […]

WBW #51 Baked Goods and Madeirized Wine

Hello, Justin here. I’m quite excited; this is the first time I’m posting for Wine Blogging Wednesday. This was originally started by Lenn Thompson and is now in its 51st edition, hosted by Joe Roberts at 1WineDude. The theme is “Baked Goods and Madeirized wines”. Allow me to digress a bit. In the early seventies, the end-of-empire centrifuge was up to full speed and about to fling my parents out. In the nick of time, I was conceived. It all happened on an idyllic, but not quite palm-fringed island off the Portuguese coast – as in the Portuguese Overseas Province of Moçambique coast. Anyway, Rhodesia, spittoon distance from the Moçambique border was where we lived. Some of the first words […]

Podcast #2 – Interview with Roy Hersh

“Join in our exploration of Port wine, steeped in century old traditions. Oporto (English for Porto), and its sister city, Vila Nova de Gaia across the river, provide the historical perspective before we head up river to the enchanting Douro River Valley. We offer our discerning guests an unrivaled insider’s view” of these historic treasures and an opportunity to gain an incredible wealth of knowledge and tasting experience. With a focus on wine, culture and gourmet culinary experiences, renowned Port experts Mario Ferreira and Roy Hersh will guide you on an unforgettable week long adventure to these exciting ports of call. “[more...->] This is how Roy starts to explain the tours that he and Mario Ferreira are now offering in […]