Wine in Azores 2017 Gast­ro­nomy Fest­iv­al Review and Recom­mend­a­tion for Azores Vis­it­ors in Octo­ber

This post is one of my favour­ites on the blog. Accord­ing to my first uni­ver­sity degree I am a Food Safety Qual­ity Engin­eer, which means I am very curi­ous and inter­ested about everything con­cern­ing food qual­ity. I also used to work as a qual­ity engin­eer in this field, with the main areas of focus being fruits and veget­ables. How­ever, I don’t have that much exper­i­ence con­cern­ing wine qual­ity, so please bear with me if my wine-related vocab­u­lary is not impec­cable.

At the end of Octo­ber as a part of a smal­ler Hun­gari­an group I had the chance to vis­it the WINE IN AZORES 2017 Por­tuguese wine & food tast­ing event on Sao Miguel. Those 3 even­ings we spent at the event inspired this post. All in all it has been a great event where we tasted excep­tion­ally good wines. You can find out about my exper­i­ences at this event in an upcom­ing series of posts – with this post being the first one. I sin­cerely hope that vis­it­ing WINE IN AZORES will be a must see on the agenda of every trav­el­er vis­it­ing the Azores in the month of Octo­ber.

In order to be able to provide Azores trav­el­lers with up-to-date event inform­a­tion and recom­mend­a­tions, I need to reg­u­larly check, search and read sev­er­al web­sites and news­pa­pers, most of them writ­ten in Por­tuguese. In Octo­ber 2017 I have spot­ted the advert­ise­ment of this „wine fest­iv­al” in a daily Azorean news­pa­per. Based on the fact that the event web­site www​.wineinazores​.com is only avail­able in Por­tuguese I figured this event might be only tar­geted at the loc­al Por­tuguese people. How­ever, when a few days later I saw the same advert­ise­ment on the www​.vis​itazores​.com in Eng­lish, I have changed my mind and decided to check out this event. Accord­ing to the ad for the three-day event – between the 20th and the 22nd of Octo­ber, 2017 – tick­ets can be pur­chased in advance (until the 20th) for 8 EUR. The Mazda car deal­er­ship which has been selling these advance tick­ets was some­what hard to find, but maybe that was due to my com­mand of the Por­tuguese lan­guage. So a friend and I pro­ceeded to pur­chase the wrist­band tick­ets for all three days of the event. (Advance tick­ets are avail­able in a lim­ited quant­ity only, and I think it is excel­lent value for money.) To my amazement (because unfor­tu­nately in Hun­gary sim­il­ar events are priced very dif­fer­ently), apart from the entrance tick­ets we only needed to pur­chase a wine­glass for 4 EUR and we were good to go tast­ing wine from 3pm to 9pm for three days in a row. Almost incred­ible!

Gen­er­al inform­a­tion about the event

From the art­icles and oth­er info mater­i­als I found out that this is the 9th time WINE IN AZORES was hos­ted in Parque de Exposições da Asso­ciação Agrí­cola de São Miguel (exhib­i­tion cen­ter) in Ribeira Grande (a 25 minute drive from Pon­ta Del­gada). This year 68 winer­ies and 17 oth­er exhib­it­ors took part of the event. Apart from wine, there have been deli­cious food tast­ings, as well. One day it was Por­tuguese food blog­ger Chez Sonia who cooked for the vis­it­ors, the oth­er day an Aus­trali­an chef and own­er of the res­taur­ant Down Under in Lis­bon, Justin Jen­nings pre­pared a dish from kangaroo meat using Aus­trali­an ingredi­ents. I am pretty famil­i­ar with the Aus­trali­an cuisine, and eat­ing these dishes made me think of my happy memor­ies from Aus­tralia. There was a „Design Award” for the best wine bottle label. You can find more inform­a­tion about the event on the Wine in Azores Face­book page. Pre­vi­ously, the event was hos­ted in Pon­ta Del­gada, but prob­ably the exhib­i­tion out­grew the ven­ue, and had to move to the cur­rent loc­a­tion in Riber­ia Grande. The exhib­i­tion cen­ter is easy to find but can only be accessed by car or cab.

The wines were fant­ast­ic, and the atmo­sphere excel­lent. We have tasted spe­ci­al­ity wine that grows on vol­can­ic soil. Most of the Azorean wine­mak­ing hap­pens on the island Pico.

Edenazores wine con­test

On the second day of the event I decided to make a little con­test with­in the small group of Hun­gari­an friends. Every­one in the group had to choose his or her favour­ite wine and favour­ite wine label. The con­test­ants made their choices based solely on their own tastes & pref­er­ences. Once the list of „win­ners” was com­plete, I con­tac­ted these favour­ite winer­ies and asked them to send me a short intro­duc­tion about their winer­ies and wines. My goal is to help my read­ers and fel­low trav­el­lers with a list of wines and winer­ies worth try­ing and vis­it­ing when in Por­tugal or in the Azores. Of course there have been much more excel­lent wines in the offer­ing, but every­one was allowed to nom­in­ate only one. I am look­ing for­ward to this little con­test next year, hope­fully with even more par­ti­cipants.

You can read more about the wines, the winer­ies, and the win­ners of the Eden Azores Wine Con­test below.

Res­ults

Since there was no way of rank­ing per­son­al favour­ites, without fur­ther ado, behold the selec­tion of our pre­ferred wines and wine labels.

Favour­ite wines selec­ted by the hun­gari­an „judges”

Favour­ite wine labels selec­ted by the hun­gari­an „judges”

Best story from our trip

A few days after the event was Sza­bolcs’ birth­day (he was one of the Hun­gari­an „judges”). I thought it would be nice to sur­prise him with a bottle of wine from his pre­ferred Bra­cara winery. Unfor­tu­nately, by this time Sza­bolcs’ pre­ferred wine was sold out at the event, but when I con­tac­ted the winery they were kind enough to offer to find me a bottle some­where and send it to an agreed loc­a­tion as a birth­day gift. I have to admit it was quite a feat to organ­ize all this and get that bottle to the res­taur­ant two days after the event, but it was abso­lutely worth it: it all went well at the end and was a won­der­ful sur­prise. Hereby I would like to express my grat­it­ude to Manuel Ped­rosa Da Silva for his help and gen­er­os­ity. In my opin­ion love is very import­ant when it comes to mak­ing food (I have men­tioned this in sev­er­al pre­vi­ous posts), and with Bra­cara winery I could feel that they love what they do, and they love mak­ing people happy.

Sum­mary

I really, thor­oughly enjoyed WINE IN AZORES 2017 – it is by no means a coin­cid­ence that we were there 3 days in a row. We have found some­thing new every day. The wines were excep­tion­ally good – in my opin­ion the white and green wines espe­cially. We have also found a Pas­tel de Nata fla­voured liquor which really did taste like this won­der­ful Por­tuguese pastry. There was a huge liquor bar, where we could taste Azorean liquors and Gos­hawk Azores Gin for a very reas­on­able price. I was very impressed that all wine sales rep­res­ent­at­ives spoke Eng­lish, so we could eas­ily com­mu­nic­ate and find answers to all our wine-related ques­tions. We have tried spe­ci­al­ity wines from Pico pro­duced in mineral-rich vol­can­ic soil which reminded us from the wine from the Somlo region in Hun­gary. We have tasted a few wines made from Arinto grapes. Some of these wines you can find on our list of favour­ites. There was a pavil­ion at the ven­ue selling some of (but unfor­tu­nately not all) the wines fea­tured in the event.

What we liked the most

The ven­ue is excel­lent, and the event had a nice ambi­ente. The vari­ety of avail­able wine and fresh food for tast­ing was sen­sa­tion­al. The winery rep­res­ent­at­ives were very know­ledge­able and kind, and almost every­one spoke Eng­lish. The tick­ets – espe­cially those bought in advance – were great value for money. Since the tast­ing star­ted in the after­noon I found it won­der­ful that the event offered a super­vised play area for kids. I found it great that some of the wine was avail­able for sale at the ven­ue. The mar­ket­ing bro­chures of the winer­ies were also of the highest qual­ity.

Room for improve­ment

Both the web­site and the Face­book page of the event were only avail­able in Por­tuguese. There was no shuttle ser­vice avail­able from the city cen­ter to the ven­ue and back – or maybe there was, but we did not see any inform­a­tion about it. There was no atten­tion paid to people with food aller­gies in the food offer­ing.

Web­site of the event www​.wineinazores​.com, Face­book page WINEINAZORES.

The organ­izers are already pre­par­ing for the 2018 edi­tion of Wine in Azores. I heart­fully recom­mend vis­it­ing this event to any­one trav­el­ing to Sao Miguel in octo­ber next year. In regards to the event i have lots of ideas and recom­mend­a­tions, how it could be made even more excit­ing for both exhib­it­ors and vis­it­ors. I would gladly offer my help to the organ­izers if they are open to new ideas and con­cepts.

Photo cred­its: Eden Azores, and Face­book pho­tos of the favour­ite winer­ies

A huge thank you to Sza­bolcs for the pho­tos and the inspir­a­tion.

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