I’m excited to share a guest blog with you today. Faith Norris is a destination marketer and travel fanatic who specializes in the Algarve. She is passionate about all aspects of Portuguese culture, especially the vast array of wines on offer and has been visiting the Algarve for the past five years. Get ready to enjoy a virtual wine tasting in Southern Portugal!
I hope you enjoy Faith’s article as much as I did. Saúde!
Portugal is famed for its production of Old World wines. Many vineyards still use traditional techniques such as crushing grapes by foot!
There are approximately 30 wine-producing regions in Portugal. Vineyards are scarce in the south compared to the north, as temperatures are much higher and rainfall is lower, making grape production more challenging. Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Tavira are the four main wine-producing areas in the south and are all within the Algarve, the southern most region of mainland Portugal.
While many people are attracted to the Algarve for the beautiful beaches, you don’t want to pass up on the incredible wine tasting opportunities there. I highly recommend stopping off at the Monte da Casteleja vineyard to experience their wine-tasting tour. The owners are hospitable, passionate and knowledgeable, so you’ll be sure to have an enjoyable experience.
About Monte da Casteleja
The Monte da Casteleja is a wonderful family-run vineyard in Lagos that has been growing vines since 2000 and producing wine using old-fashioned methods since 2008. It is a ten-minute drive north of Lagos town centre, and easily reachable from Portimão and Carvoeiro.
Grapes are harvested by hand to inflict less stress to the vines and less damage to the grapes and to reduce the risk of early fermentation. Grapes are then crushed by foot, and the wine is bottled and sold within the Algarve. The owners, a Portuguese couple named Guillaume and Maria Leroux, host tapas and wine tasting sessions for the public and tourists. They are proud and passionate about their wines and the rich biodiversity of the Algarve.
About the Leroux Family
The Leroux family produces high quality organic red, white and rosé wines without the use of pesticides or fungicides.
Guillaume was born in Paris and grew up in Lisbon. His father was French and his mother Portuguese. He has various respected viticulture qualifications as well as a passion for wine making.
Maria was born in Cascais, Portugal and lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for ten years. Maria has a selection of wines named after her!
Guillaume and Maria’s philosophy is to preserve the identity and tradition of the wine industry. This is evident through the fact that the grapes are crushed by foot, just like they were hundreds of year ago. They produce around 10,000 bottles each year. The wine is not transported across lengthy distances as it is not in keeping with their mantra to eat, drink and buy local.
During your tour of the vineyard, you will have the opportunity to sample various wines. Here is a brief description of some of the wines the Leroux’s produce:
- The Maria Selection, aptly named as a declaration of love to his wife by Guillaume is a red wine made from the Alfrocheiro, Bastardo and Alicante Bouschet grape varieties. It is a deep burgundy red colour with intense aromas of oak and cocoa. It has velvety tannins and a lasting finish with slight notes of plum, chocolate and fig.
- The Monte da Casteleja Tinto is made from Bastardo and Alfrocheiro grape varieties. It is a dark cherry colour with initial aromas of roasted coffee and nuts, developing into subtle notes of plum and menthol. It has noble tannins and good aging ability.
- The Monte da Casteleja Branco is made from the Arinto e Perrum grape variety. It is refreshingly acidic with a hint of citrus. It has delicate aromas and suggestions of grapefruit, pear, apricot and vanilla. The wine resonates in your mouth and tastes vibrant and complex.
As you get shown around, you can enjoy the outstanding views over the vines and hills. Some visitors get the chance to squash the grapes by foot, if their visit coincides with the time of harvesting. It really is a fun and interesting afternoon out and a great chance to get away from the beach.
The Lerouxs are a welcoming couple. So broaden your horizons and visit the vineyard next time you are in the Algarve. They are open from May through October, and their address is Monte da Casteleja, Cx Postal 3002-I, 8600-317 Lagos Faro, Portugal. You will need to book your tasting in advance. Prices for a short tour start at around 10 euros.
If you would like to find out more about Lagos, please visit lowcostholidays.com.
Did You Know?
I thought I would end this article with a few fun did you knows:
- One acre of grapevines equals approximately 800 gallons of wine.
- The phrase “rule of thumb” was invented when brewers would dip a finger or thumb into the grape juice to decide if the liquid was at the ideal temperature for adding yeast, as they did not yet have thermometers.
- Although the average life span of a grapevine is 25 years, it actually is capable of producing grapes for more than 100 years.
- On average, there are about 75 grapes in each cluster.
- The world’s leading cork producer is Portugal.
I hope you enjoyed my article.
If you would like to find out more about the Algarve, please visit lowcostholidays.com.