Sipping Lisbon's wine

Part one

When I told people that I was heading to Portugal to explore its wines, I was asked if I was going to Porto, or the Douro regions…or maybe the Algarve.

All three more commonly known as wine regions (“bring me some port!”) than the capital city area.

But there is much to learn in and around Lisboa.

Portuguese hospitality began for me, coincidentally, with a Penticton couple sitting at Pearson airport waiting for the same night flight to Lisbon.

Imagine a stranger’s grandparents insisting that you share their homemade sandwiches, bananas, and treats because that would be much better than Timmie’s.

This was a good omen, and it was the best egg sandwich I have ever had. (If these are your relatives and they come home talking of a writer they met in the airport, that was me.)

Looking at a map, of course, anyone recognizes how close Lisbon is to the Atlantic, but I didn’t truly comprehend this geography until I realized the landing gear was lowered while we were flying over a lengthy beach, and then suddenly we were on the ground, surrounded by tiled roofs.

And the point was driven home by lunch at Adraga, a restaurant that is not next to the beach, not across the street, but on the beach.

Perhaps the most Instagram worthy seafood spot in all of Europe. Barnacles (yes, they are edible, and they taste like the sea), shellfish, sardine paté, and cod so fresh you’d swear it jumped out of the ocean onto the plate.

The owner carefully selected wines from the Lisbon region to pair with these delights; the first taste of the terroir for me. Fresh, vibrant whites with a briny-ness that matched the dishes perfectly.

And no wonder. Nearby, a stone’s throw from the ocean, there are vines growing in the sand. Not just in sandy soil, as we have here, but in the sand in Colares.

Buffered by wind guards, the sand keeps the grapes warm, and you’d think you had walked into a garden of vines. The briny-ness now accompanied by apple elements from an orchard next door.

The facility at Adega Viuva Gomes – its wines from Casca Wines – is dripping in history, like the sea spray that hit our windshield. Its wines are making their way here, but not soon enough.

And then, Casa Santos Lima. Again, steeped in history but with a modern facility attached to an estate that looks like the set of a turn-of-the-century movie. Familiar grapes – chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, gewürztraminer – and, to my surprise, even a late harvest botrytis affected dessert wine, to compare with our own late harvests.

It’s not all just about the port, as evidenced by Vinhos Cortem.

Picture this: a pair of semi-retirees, she German and clearly a chef in another life, and he a British Robert de Niro lookalike.

Both Helga and Chris worked in sound for films. And now I have had fantastic organic wines made pretty much entirely by hand by a guy who worked on the sound for the movie, The NeverEnding Story.

This couple’s counterparts could likely be found in the Okanagan many times over, in winemakers and owners whose passion brought them to a vineyard.

Next column, we’ll travel back to the Okanagan. But watch for part two of Portugal after that, and how our two regions compare when it comes to wine tourism.

More Okanagan Taste articles

About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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