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Wines award winners

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Wines award winners

The Douro and the Alentejo regions were home to the biggest award winners at the recent Wines of Portugal 2014 competition award ceremony, said Jorge Monteiro of the ViniPortugal wine association.

Monteiro said that the Douro had picked up 67 medals and the Alentejo 59 but that the event had above all shown the quality of Portuguese wines currently in production.

The ViniPortugal competition had attracted some 1,070 wines from across mainland and archipelago Portugal with Monteiro adding that 80 percent of the wines gained the kind of classification worthy of medals even if only 25 percent or 280 wines of that total received any official recognition.

The wine specialist explained that due to the high quality levels, the competition had done away with bronze medals to hand out more silver medals.

The Dão region Quinta das Marias Touriga Nacional Reserva, produced by Peter Eckert, was the outright winner in the single caste wine section with the Rozés Porto Tawny 40 years winning the fortified wine category. 

Meanwhile, the Alentejo produced Terras d’Alter Reserva won the 2014 award in the mixed cast wine category.

The wines, representing a sector that generated €725 million in exports last year, were judged by 100 specialists including 25 international judges.

Source: Portugal News

Why Portugal is high on a wine lover’s list

People often ask me to name my favorite wine countries. I like to surprise them by putting Portugal high on the list.

I love Portugal because it offers tremendous value and variety, with wines that you won’t find anywhere else. And the Douro Valley, the region famous for those fortified ports and its stunningly beautiful landscape, leads the way.

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Portugal Carnival

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Portugal Carnival

The Portugal Carnival is an annual event that has everyone is talking about. The Portuguese carnival is a fun and joyfull 3 day period (Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday) . This is the perfect time to mingle with locals and preach some pranks.

In Portugal we have a sain for pranks and people accept it as a Carnival thing. It ´means more or less the following. 

"Its not personal, it's just Carnival"

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You can take in the culture and have a blast. The carnival is a great place to stop if you are visiting the area or makes a nice destination all on its own.Carnival is all about music, dancing and, of course, the costumes. The elaborate costumes of carnival are something to behold. Many people spend months preparing their costumes for the celebration. From feathers to metal to sequins, you will see it all. Portuguese take carnival very seriously. They will be meticulous in preparing their costumes and they are focused on ensuring every detail is perfected. Carnival may be all about fun, but the preparation is hard work. Here's a glance about our Carnival from North to South.

Torres Vedras

What to visit in Torres Vedras

Torres Vedras carnival maintains a strong traditional component, constituted by 13 large-scale allegorical floats, groups of masked revellers, typical figures wearing large carved heads, giant figures, and Zés Pereiras drumming groups, with traditional drums and bagpipes.  The Carnival Kings, both of whom are male, are normally personalities from the region. The two kings are accompanied by a court of caricature ministers and “Matrafonas (“grotesque matrons”) and also a caricature of the Royal guard. 

Mealhada

Portugal Carnival

In Mealhada, the elders still remember the Carnival, the masked raids and street games, the dances and also the anonymous letters with declarations of love and social criticism.

There was also the "Feast of the Rooster", on Sunday, a parade of students from each class to their teachers' homes. They used to carry the rooster in a wheelbarrow decorated with streamers and mimosas.

Sesimbra

Carnival in Sesimbra

Carnival feast enjoys a great tradition in Sesimbra, not only due to the satirical rituals (“cegadas” and “cavalhadas”), but also to the night balls organised by several associations from the beginning of the 19th century. After the 25th April Revolution, the “organised carnival” was born, as a result of an agreement between the groups that attended the balls. Later emerged the first samba schools that parade on Carnival Tuesday along coastline avenue.

These schools tackle social themes and problems on their “sambas de enredo” (plot sambas) using a critical language. Cultural and social associations were created to organise these parades, standing out as meeting points for young people and others, who learn there to play music and to dance. Sesimbra Carnival is increasingly becoming one of the most significant cultural and social moments in the council, not only in terms of leisure, but also of social cohesion. 

Estarreja

Estarreja carnival was born in the 19th century. Local families sponsored the Flower Battle, as well as the carnival cars. From the 60’s (20th century), spontaneous groups emerged on Carnival Sunday and Tuesday.

In the 80’s, the town hall also engaged in this feast.

Tickets began to be charged, providing revenues reinvested in the carnival parade, consisting nowadays of groups of children and samba schools.    

Loulé

Algarve Carnival

The year 1906 marks the beginning of the first “civilised carnival”, contrasting with the aggressive way that characterised carnival celebration until then. In present day, Loulé locals play with serious issues, national politics and current polemic matters for three days.

Carnival parade crosses José da Costa Mealha Avenue. The allegorical car parade, the way people celebrate it and the “Flower Batlle” make it quite famous. Loulé Carnival is one of the most important celebrations of the kind in the country, as well as one of the main tourism highlights of the Algarve during low season.

The parade featured 17 floats, street entertainers and Samba schools, with hundreds of people taking part to bring colour and glee to the heart of the city. Being one of the most colourful events in Portugal, Loulé Carnival is known for its originality and enormous sense of humour. 

Thousands of people visit Loulé each year just for its Carnival celebrations.

Olhão

Visiting Olhão 
Carnival in Olhão

About 1,000 local schoolchildren parade in carnival costume along Avenida da República in Olhão and the Moncarapacho parish also seen a parade of floats, a ball and a fancy dress contest.

The traditional parade, which has taken place for more than 100 years in Moncarapacho, have over a dozen floats, entertainment groups and local senior citizens encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle by walking regularly. 

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Bullfighting, a rooted tradition

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Bullfighting, a rooted tradition

Bullfighting or tauromachy (Spanish toreo, corrida de toros or tauromaquia; Portuguese tourada, corrida de touros or tauromaquia) is a sport that involves, most of the time, professional performers (generally called in Spanish toreros or matadores and in Portuguese toureiros) who execute various formal moves with the goal of appearing graceful and confident, while masterful over the bull itself; these maneuvers are performed at close range, concluding (in Spanish-style bullfighting) with the death of the bull by a well-placed sword thrust as the finale.

It is a ritual spectacle that is usually designated in Spain as an art, for others as a sport, as tallies are kept for the purpose of ranking the bullfighters. The art of bullfighting requires a significant degree of skill and athleticism, resulting in the widely held view of matadors as national celebrities.

The practice generates heated controversy in many areas of the world, including Spain where the "classic" bullfighting was born.

Origins of Bulllfighting

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Bullfighting goes back at least to Minoan Crete, where the bull-leaping ritual practiced by youths of both sexes is memorialized in the famous wall-frescos at Knossos. The frescos offer no hint of struggle or violence, and the Lunar Bull was a sacred animal commemorated in ritual and legends such as that of the Minotaur. Modern archaeologists tend to emphasize the danger involved in this athletic skill and may underestimate the extent to which the bull cooperated. The killing of the sacred bull (tauromachy) is the essential central iconic act of Mithras, which was commemorated in the mithraeum wherever Roman soldiers were stationed. French ethnologist Dominique Aubier considers that there is no relationship between the Greek sacrifice which is an agricultural ritualistic celebration and the bullfight which is in Spain of pure paleontological hunting origins.

It is often linked to ancient Rome, when many people-versus-animal events were held as a warm-up for gladiatorial sports. The event's earliest roots are probably religious, as many bulls played an important part in the belief systems of many ancient Mediterranean cultures; compare, for instance, the Minoan reverence of the bull and the Greek and Roman practice of sacrificing bulls. It may have been introduced into Spain by the Moors in the 11th century, although there are other theories that it was introduced into Spain a millennium earlier by the Emperor Claudius when he instituted a short-lived ban on gladiatorial games as a substitute for those combats. The latter theory was supported by Robert Graves. In its original Moorish and early Spanish form, the bull was fought from horseback using a javelin. (Picadors are the remnants of this tradition, but their role in the contest is now a relatively minor one limited to "preparing" the bull for the matador.) Bullfighting spread from Spain to its Central and South American colonies, and also in the 19th century to France, where it developed into a distinctive form in its own right.

In the 18th century, the Spanish introduced the practice of fighting on foot, Francisco Romero generally being regarded as having been the first to do this, about 1726. The modern style of Spanish bullfighting is credited to Juan Belmonte, generally considered the greatest matador of all time, who introduced a daring and revolutionary style which kept him almost constantly within a few inches of the bull. Although extremely dangerous (Belmonte himself was gored on many occasions), his style is still seen by most matadors as the ideal to be emulated.

Portuguese Style

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The Portuguese now practice a type of bloodless bullfighting which is in many respects different from its original form. A Portuguese corrida de touros has three main events:

  • Cavaleiro - A horseman (rider), dressed in traditional 18th century costumes fights the bull from horseback. The horses are Portuguese Lusitanians, specially trained for the fights. These horses are usually skilled in dressage and may exhibit their art in the arena. The purpose of this fight is to stab three or four bandarilhas (small javelins) in the back of the bull. Horseback bullfighters are usually members of old aristocratic families.
  • Bandarilheiros - Akin to the Spanish matadores (see above), but without the sword. These men simply play the bull with a red coat.
  • Forcados - The forcados are a group of eight men who challenge the bull directly, without any protection or weapon of defense. The front man provokes the bull into a charge to perform a pega de touros (bull catch). The front man secures the animal's head (usually it is a violent choke) and is quickly aided by his fellows who surround and secure the animal until he is subdued. Forcados were usually people from lower classes who practice their art through amateur associations.

The bull is not killed in the ring and the fight is accordingly referred to as a "bloodless bullfight". After these three sets, the bull is removed from the arena alive and is sometimes killed, away from the audience's sight, by a professional butcher. More often than not, many bulls are entered into other events, such as rodeos in California, or released to pasture until their end days. Nevertheless, tradition was so strong at the small town of Barrancos, where the bull was illegally put to death in the arena, that the government was forced to relent and permit the town to follow its ancient matador tradition and kill the bull in the arena. There are many forms of traditional, popular bullfighting in Portugal, differing from the "official" version, some of which involve groups of people doing a tug-of-war with young bulls, by holding large wooden structures into which the animals charge. In the Azores, bullfighting is often remniscent of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, in which those most at risk are human beings, not the bulls themselves.

In Portugal, some bulls have their horns severed in a way that they do not present sharp points. This practice is believed to have been introduced by King Joseph I of Portugal after a tragic event in a bullfight he was presiding. The son and heir of the Marquis of Marialva was fighting a bull on horseback when the animal wounded his horse. The young man fell, was kicked by the bull and killed. The Marquis himself, then around 70 years of age, jumped from the royal cabin that he shared with the king, drew his sword and killed the animal.

Also in Portugal, the main stars of bullfighting are the cavaleiros, as opposed to Spain, where the matadores are the most prominent bullfighters.

Bullfights are not accepted in some parts of Portuguese society, as it is in some parts of Spanish society, and to that extent, has seen a decline in the number of spectators in those sectors. However, southern regions such as Ribatejo and Alentejo, and the Azores are traditionally more interested in the corrida de touros, than Portugal's central and northern regions, where it has little presence. Part of this decline is traceable, for good or bad, to the homogenization and uniform moral subjectivity of European culture and ethical standards.

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Tom Cannavan’s wine selection

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Tom Cannavan’s wine selection

After much hype and anticipation, Tom Cannavan’s 50 Great Portuguese wines selection was finally unveiled in London at the Portuguese Ambassador’s Residence in Belgrave Square.

 

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Silver Coast, a different kind of place . . .

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Silver Coast, a different kind of place . . .

Summer is a great time to relax, to be with family and friends, travel around the world discovering fantastic places, different cultures and celebrating life. I’ve been in Bilbao and Pamplona in the summer and took part of Sanfirmin bull-running which is quite an experience and also in Amsterdam and London which are two beautiful cities. I’m passionate about Cultures and Architecture and the way both mark each country and its people.

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This summer is being busy as ever and I have decided to stay at home and enjoy some quality time with my family whenever the job allows. For my surprise I’m doing what I usually recommend my clients, which is enjoying the beach and this fantastic weather, visiting places and delighting myself with the local gastronomy - sea food is highly recommended.

I discovered numerous events taking place in Óbidos and other parts of the Silver Coast and they are just making this summer such a special one. I start with Golf in the morning and a light breakfast around 10AM. Beach follows and I tend to vary between Praia D’El Rey beach, Foz and São Martinho. Occasionally I pick up the jeep and discover new and isolated places, which are so perfect without a single foot print. At night Óbidos and Foz have been my favourites. Foz has a fantastic night life, the bars are crowded and Greenhill night club, who has been open to public for more than 25 years, has many surprises Óbidos is always a fun place to visit and this summer is repeating the success of previous years.

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The medieval market has invaded the village and even confined to the castle walls, in the narrow streets is common to come across with knights fitting for land or a peace of meat.

This event is undoubtedly one of the most popular organized in Obidos. Flowing vibrant banners and heraldic flags, wizards, jugglers, court jesters, wandering minstrels, musicians, mimes and thespians provide the vivacious merriment. Craft demonstrators and some 150 food, beverage and merchandise vendors recreate the customs and spirit of medieval Europe. The afternoon concludes with four jousting knights on horseback.

For half a dozen "torreoes", the fair's official coin, visitors can buy a little bit of everything from medieval clothing to shoes, jewellery, or even experience a "medieval" meal

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The Opera Festival is held every year and in its five years of existence has drawn a large audience to the many operas that have been staged. It is a unique project that mergers the cultural heritage to the promotion and valorisation of Óbidos. This summer festival is unique in the country and presents some of the most popular operas of all time, always with an exceptional backdrop of Óbidos.

The operas concerts are "9th Symphony"  - Beethoven; The Barber of Seville" - Rossini; "La Bohème" - Puccini; and Opera Gala with Elisabete Matos (for more details go to obidos.pt)

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