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Why Portugal is high on a wine lover’s list


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.

Portugal seems to be stuck in an unfortunate dichotomy in our mind’s eye: There’s cheap Mateus, the wine of unsophisticates — Saddam Hussein supposedly was a fan — and vintage port, the expensive postprandial tipple of the stodgy British aristocracy. 

That’s as regrettable as it is incomplete.

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.

Much of the country’s charm is in the sheer variety of its grapes, many of which are indigenous and not widely grown in other countries. Portugal has not succumbed to the lure of chardonnay and cabernet. It shares some grapes with Spain, of course. Albariño and godello appear here as alvarinho and gouveio. Tempranillo, the great red grape of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, plays a supporting role throughout Portugal under a variety of pseudonyms. Syrah makes a cameo appearance, though it hasn’t stolen the show. 

If you enjoy keeping track of the grape varieties you’ve tasted, you can add extensively to your repertoire by exploring the wines of Portugal. The port grapes of touriga nacional, touriga franca, tinta roriz (Portugal’s main pseudonym for tempranillo) and tinta cao form the major red blends from the Douro. Farther south, trincadeira anchors the reds along with aragonez (another name for tempranillo), while fernao pires shines in aromatic whites. If you search, you can find touriga in Virginia or Australia, and others maybe in experimental vineyards, but most of these varieties are unique to Portugal. 

The Douro is the world’s oldest wine region, having been officially demarcated in 1756 in an attempt to guarantee the authenticity of its wines. Those wines were almost exclusively port — fortified and sweet, in a variety of styles — until the 1990s, when a few wineries began using the same grapes to make dry table wines. Those wines have proved popular enough that more vineyards have been planted farther upriver in the Douro Superior, near the Spanish border. So the Douro is both an old wine region and a new one.  

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Stylistically, Douro’s table wines are similar to Spain’s famous reds from Rioja and Ribera del Duero; remember the tempranillo connection. Yet Douro reds have a complexity that seems to reach down into the schist that makes up the vineyard soils. They also have a leafy, somewhat woodsy character that speaks of the outdoors. They don’t conjure wood-paneled tasting rooms or barrel cellars as much as an autumn hike along a riverside trail. 

The Douro also leads Portugal in value, and I might not have said that a few years ago, when the wines seemed to aim at the higher end of the price spectrum. There are a few priced under $10: Charamba is nationally available, while Lello is available more in the Washington area market. The excitement now starts around the $15 level and up, with wines that outperform for their price. Quinta do Crasto and Muxagat are two labels I highly recommend for their entire line of wines. Others, such as Niepoort and Quinta do Vale Meao, are harder to find but worth seeking out and splurging on.

Another reason to love these wines: They often have a smoky, earthy character that pairs well with grilled foods. And the time for grilling is nigh.

Source: By Dave McIntyre


10 wonderful and abandoned places in Portugal


10 wonderful and abandoned places in Portugal

Portugal is a country rich in beautiful places, romantic gardens, wonderful beaches ... but also some abandoned and haunted places!

1. Quinta do Montado – Quinta de Marques Gomes – Canidelo

This farm was owned by businessman Manuel Marques Gomes. This man, born in Canidelo, was worthy of several institutions and responsible for several works of public interest.

The “Quinta do Montado”, also known as “Quinta Marques Gomes” is today completely abandoned.

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2. Casa da Praça – Frazão

This is another beautiful and great interest from the point of view of architectural work. This house belonged to the family Alves Barbosa and unfortunately is today as you can see in the image below.

Casa da praça_Frazão.jpg

3. Termas Águas Radium/Hotel Serra da Pena – Sabugal

Legend tells that in this place, built in the early twentieth century, Don Rodrigo (Spanish count) have healed his daughter from a severe skin disease, using the radioactive waters of this place. During this situation, the Count decided to build this spa hotel that is now as follows:


4. Casal do Passal – Cabanas de Viriato

House of the illustrious Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Portuguese diplomat that during World War II saved more than 30,000 lives from Nazi persecution (considered as the largest rescue action undertaken by an individual person).

Recent news speaks in this house restoration project.


5. Clock house – Porto 

Also known as Manueline house, this house is located at the mouth of the Douro at Porto. Built by Republican Arthur Jorge Guimarães and his wife, now lies abandoned as you can see in the image.


6. Convento Nossa Senhora do Desterro – Monchique

This building, located in Lagos, was founded in 1631 by Pero da Silva. Today lies in ruins.


7. Convento Santa Clara -Vila do Conde

This convent was founded at the initiative of King Afonso Sanches. In the church also are the graves of Beatrice of Portugal, daughter of Blessed Nuno Alvares Pereira, the Counts of Canterbury and the founders.

Once a female convent, today is just an abandoned building with prospects of becoming a giant hostel.


8. Palácio Fonte da Pipa- Loulé

The stories of haunting are common when the subject is the palace source Pipa.

This beautiful palace was built by Marçal Pacheco, brother of Duarte Pacheco in order to receive King Carlos when he visited the Algarve. However, Don Carlos opted to stay in another palace in the area.

Named “Quinta da esperança”, this palace was always known as “Fonte da Pipa”, because in this place existed a source with this name.


9. Panoramic restaurant-Monsanto

This restaurant was built in the 60s. However it has been an office, a disco, a bingo, a warehouse, anyway, today is an abandoned building.


10. Palacete Rosa Pena – Espinho

The grandeur of this building leaves no one indifferent. It occupies an entire city block of the city of Espinho and unfortunately is in a high state of degradation.

The Rosa Pena palace dates from 1930 and was apparently designed by engineer José Alves Pereira da Silva, married to Rosa Pena da Silva. Although these are not the true owners of the palace, the building was known as Rosa Pena when his real name is just the Pena Palace.




Do you surf? Portuguese app has all the info on the best spots!


Do you surf? Portuguese app has all the info on the best spots!

The app SurfinPortugal has detailed information on more than 180 surf spots around the country.

Established in late 2012, the startup that organizes surf trips aboard minibuses now launched a new application: the location of the best places to surf every day and detailed characterization of over 180 spots around the country are available in the app of SurfinPortugal, who pretend thus providing a comprehensive guide to surfing.

"This app is the result of 20 years of travel between Peniche and Sagres. We wanted to leverage our expertise in an application that could be useful, especially for foreigners, who do not know the country. The app tells them where they are and how they can get where they want, with information on the conditions in each of the locations. Instead of graphics, we chose several times a plain text precisely to clearly explain to people how to get to the sites, rather than having an arrow pointing the way, "explains managing partner of SurfinPortugal, Manuel Moura.

The application is free and, for now, is limited between Peniche and Sagres, reporting on the conditions of the sea and the wind in places like Ericeira, Sintra, Cascais, Lisbon, Porto Covo, Vila Nova de Milfontes and Lagos, among others. It also has an automatic link to Google Maps, so users can get directions from the location where they are up to more than 90 beaches identified there or services, from restaurants to gas stations. The SurfinPortugal will soon include information about Nazareth, extending a little guide. "But I loved that in two years we had information for the whole country," confesses Manuel Moura.





Hot Jesus from Portugal, bless him


Hot Jesus from Portugal, bless him

I always love a good joke and one of the things I enjoy the most is seeing other Portuguese being recognised by their work. Some time ago on many tvs arround the world we had the pleasure of seing great part of the epic stories and avdentures from the Bible. Yes, the Bible. For many most of the stories are unknown, but for others as for me, this movie was an interesting recap.

But why am I saying all this? Well, in this movie Diogo Morgado, a Portuguese actor, was one of the main characters and its popularity is becoming so huge that funny things start to happen. I leave you with a good laugh, american style, from Stephen Colbert on his night show in US. I hope you enjoy, after all its still related to Portugal.



Portuguese Calçada, Art in Cobblestones


Portuguese Calçada, Art in Cobblestones


One of the endearing hallmarks of Portugal's streets is their decorated pavements. Limestone is hewn into tiny blocks creating beautiful patterned compositions, traditional and modern designs, street numbers, and business logos.

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Other designs show armillary spheres, caravels and vessels, crosses, stars, and animals. It all started in 1849 after the completion of the wave design known as "the wide sea" in Lisbon's Rossio Square By the end of that year, the pavements of the Chiado district and Avenida da Liberdade were also completed. Eventually most of Lisbon's streets were paved this way, and it spread throughout the country. These pavement designs are also seen in Portugal's former colonies, with the "wide sea" design seen in Rio de Janeiro's famous beaches, and even in one of Macau's main squares.

calçada portuguesa rua augusta-001.jpg

The artform was also used in New York's Central Park'stribute to John Lennon, and in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in New Jersey. Modern examples can be seen in Lisbon's Parque das Nações, with images of "sea monsters" and more wave designs. Today the "Portuguese pavements" are still made by hand, and are part of the country's heritage and identity, continuing to decorate the streets and squares all over Portugal.



Olive Oil, Portugual's finest nectar


Olive Oil, Portugual's finest nectar



Olive oil, is one of Portuguese finest nectares. Despite its low production when compared to other competitor countries, Portugal has been recognized by one of the best producers of this gastronomic nectar due to its extraordinary quality.


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