Fabulous tasting today of Esporao white wines at the Ritz Carlton today. If you do not know Herdade do Esporao. it is one of the most exciting wineries in Alentejo, Portugal. I spent several hours visiting the winery in 2012 and was so incredibly impressed by the gorgeous winery, its many wine programs, its luxurious restaurant, and of course its wines.
The winery is about two hours east of Lisbon and is very concerned about the quality of the wine, as well as preserving the environment and nature. Interesting also is that Esporao was the first wine tourism project to be certified in Portugal. Visitors can tour the vineyards, taste, visit wine cellars, and also experience many nature watching activities.
Interestingly enough, the theme today was the 4th Annual NYC Women and Wine Luncheon honoring Esporao and its white wine maker Sandra Alves.
Though the theme was “women” the style of the wine was suited to any sex, and to my palate seemed very suitable for savory or more “masculine” dish. The flavors of the wines …. Verdelho 2013, Assobio 2013, were more savory in character, ready to stand up (like a man?) to whatever dish was presented to them.
Wines in Esporao and in Portugal as a rule are typically blends … Now the wines mentioned above were a bit more delicate in nature and paired well with the salad with goat cheese, yet to be be super honest with you the wines I would absolutely kill for were those that were paired with the entree of Tea Steamed Sole … which is to say the Espora Reserva White 2012 and (OMG my total fav!) the Private Selection 2011, which is mostly semillon grown on granite and schist stone and barrel fermented in new French oak. It can really rival the best white Burgundy.
Sandra Alves was quite the elegant speaker between courses, explaining the soil and climate to the very interested wine journalists who have not been to the country, or more importantly, this estate which is quite extraordinary and not an “estate” the way Americans think of wineries in Napa or upstate New York. The owners of Esporao have this incredible vision, and also the resources, to make the best wine possible that reflects the terroir. Equally important, the owners are also very eager to create what I can only term the “Esporao experience” in terms of the restaurant, tasting room, and various nature walks and activities that change all the time.
Yet to focus only on the luncheon experience, one must conclude by saying that the wines were all very refreshing and well balanced, and also, as articulated by Marika Vida-Arnold, now a consultant yet once wine director of the Ritz-Carlton where the event was held, available at a very good value for price.
In any event, it was great to taste the wines of Esporao again and have them so excellently paired with cuisine.