Wine in Azores – Exper­i­ences and res­ults from the azorean wine fest­iv­al – Pre­par­a­tions for Wine in Azores 2018

This is the follow-up to one of my favor­ite posts ever, which might be of rel­ev­ance to those plan­ning to travel to the Azores or Por­tugal in 2018. The ori­gin­al post is about my exper­i­ences at the Wine in Azores fest­iv­al in Octo­ber 2017. This event has been a truly spe­cial exper­i­ence, those 3 days with lovely people, divine wine, and oth­er gast­ro­nom­ic treats – and all this on Sao Miguel island.

On the first 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. 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. Those doing a round-trip in Por­tugal, or doing city breaks in Lis­bon or Porto have now a list of won­der­ful wine sug­ges­tions at their dis­pos­al. For those trav­el­ing to the Azores the fol­low­ing inform­a­tion might even inspire a wine-trip on Sao Miguel, or even try­ing the excep­tion­al vol­can­ic wines of Pico.

Once the list of „win­ners” was com­plete, I con­tac­ted these favour­ite winer­ies and asked them to answer a few ques­tions about their winer­ies and wines. You can read these inter­views below.


Favour­ite wines selec­ted by The Hun­gari­an „Judges”


Favour­ite wine labels selec­ted by The Hun­gari­an „Judges”


Bra­cara Wine – Socal­cos do Bouro Branco

This white wine has been our favor­ite from the begin­ning, even though we have found the oth­er wines of BRACARA WINE to be also excel­lent. Our win­ner, how­ever, is this very light, fresh white wine with its fine acid­ic bal­ance. Based on the inter­view below you can find out even more about the win­ner wine and the winery. The Socal­cos do Bouro Branco has been appar­ently awar­ded with sev­er­al gold medals already. Based on the recom­mend­a­tion it is best enjoyed with white meat, fish, crabs, salads, and Asi­an dishes.

The ques­tions have been answered by Manuel Ped­rosa da Silva, one of the own­ers of the winery.

Which is your favour­ite wine from the sortiment?

My favor­ite wine is the Socal­cos do Bouro Blend.

Why? Any back­ground inform­a­tion of funny story is wel­come here?

Because this is how it all star­ted. The label was designed by a friend who is an archi­tect, and we really love  this label.

Please describe the wine we have chosen (Socal­cos do Bouro Branco), includ­ing the grape(s) used.

It is a very rich, round wine with flowery and trop­ic­al aromas. Accord­ing to our recom­mend­a­tion this wine is per­fect to enjoy with white meat, and Asi­an dishes.

The vine­yards are arranged in ter­races, a fea­ture that gives the name to the wine (Socal­cos means ter­race in Por­tuguese), facing East and South. The excel­lent sun expos­ure, the fea­tures of the soil and the micro­cli­mate of the region con­trib­ute to the pro­duc­tion of a unique Vinho Verde.

How would you intro­duce the winery to the read­ers and your future customers?

The winery is small and famil­i­ar. This wine was pro­duced from a selec­tion of grapes Loureiro, Arinto and Tra­jadura, of the best parts of the vine­yard known as Vinha do Cruzeiro Vine­yard, loc­ated in the par­ish of Bouro Santa Maria, muni­cip­al­ity of Amares, dis­trict of Braga.

More inform­a­tion can be found here: 

Web­site www​.bra​caraw​ine​.pt
Face­book https://​www​.face​book​.com/​b​r​a​c​a​r​a​w​i​ne/
Ins­tagram https://​www​.ins​tagram​.com/​b​r​a​c​a​r​a​w​i​ne/
Twit­ter https://​twit​ter​.com/​b​r​a​c​a​r​a​w​ine

Azores Wine Com­pany – Arinto dos Acores

Out of our win­ners, this is the only wine ori­gin­at­ing from the Azores, namely Pico island. What makes this wine very inter­est­ing and spe­cial is that it is made from grapes grown in mineral-rich vol­can­ic soil, which res­ults in a very char­ac­ter­ist­ic, min­er­al taste. This wine reminded us of the wines from the Somlo region, Hungary.

My ques­tions were answered by Filipe Rocha, one of the founders of Azores Wine Company.

Which is your favour­ite wine from the sortiment?

It’s dif­fi­cult to choose a favour­ite wine. Enjoy­ing a wine depends on the moment, on the per­sons you are with, on the mood, etc… even though Arinto dos Açores is prob­ably the one I prefer the most.

Why? Any back­ground inform­a­tion of funny story is wel­come here?

Arinto dos Açores is a unique grape vari­ety in the world. From the Azorean grapes it’s the one with the highest acid­ity, char­ac­ter­ist­ic which I love, com­bined togeth­er with vol­can­ic terroir and close­ness to the sea, makes really a unique and fant­ast­ic wine.

Please describe the wine we have chosen, includ­ing the grape(s) used.

Arinto dos Açores by António Maçan­ita, from Azores Wine Com­pany, has a min­er­al pro­file with high and salin­ity. I love drink­ing this wine with sea­food, espe­cially with the loc­al “cracas” (barnacles). This is a unique grape vari­et­al that doesn’t exist in any oth­er part, includ­ing the main­land Por­tugal and Madeira. People can think it’s the same as Arinto, that one can often find in many regions in Por­tugal, but it’s a totally dif­fer­ent grape, genet­ic­ally com­ing from very dif­fer­ent families.

How would you intro­duce the winery to the read­ers and your future customers?

Azores Wine Com­pany it’s a young pro­ject, that star­ted in 2014 by 3 friends: the wine­maker António Maçan­ita, Paulo Machado – 4th gen­er­a­tion in Pico of vit­i­cul­tur­ist and also wine­maker, togeth­er with myself. In the past 2 years we recovered 65 hec­tares of aban­doned vine­yards in Pico, all of them with cur­rais (the stone walls) that are World Her­it­age by UNESCO. Our pro­ject is to pro­duce around 150.000 bottles with­in the next 4 years. We are work­ing at Paulo’s winery, that we already improved in con­struc­tion and equip­ment. We plan to build a new winery until 2020. Today we pro­duce around 30.000 bottles, 20% expor­ted to main­land Por­tugal and 60% to Europe and North Amer­ica. Our cli­ents are top res­taur­ants and wine shops, that are look­ing for high qual­ity wines.

More inform­a­tion can be found here:

Web­site www​.azoreswinecom​pany​.com
Face­book https://​www​.face​book​.com/​a​z​o​r​e​s​w​i​n​e​c​o​m​p​a​ny/
Ins­tagram https://​www​.ins​tagram​.com/​a​z​o​r​e​s​w​i​n​e​c​o​m​p​a​ny/
Twit­ter https://​twit​ter​.com/​a​z​o​r​e​s​w​i​n​e​c​o​?​l​a​n​g​=en

Rosa San­tos Famil­ia Vin­hos – Expli­cit Passito

The fam­ily winery who got the bronze medal in our little com­pet­i­tion has both excel­lent wines and beau­ti­ful wine label design. This wine has been pretty much the only dessert wine we tried, but we found it excep­tion­ally tasty. It by all means no coin­cid­ence, that 2 ladies from our group ranked this wine as num­ber 1. What we also loved about the label is that it con­tained all inform­a­tion about the wine in a very eleg­ant fash­ion.
My ques­tions were answered by Fed­erico Rosa San­tos.

Which is your favour­ite wine from the sortiment?

That’s almost like ask­ing me what’s my favour­ite chil­dren from my off­spring! I like all my wines in dif­fer­ent ways. All of them have some­thing great to give and deliv­er at some point or occa­sion. What I mean is that they’re cap­able of adapt­ing and to provide amaz­ing sen­sa­tions in the right cir­cum­stances. Ones on a very inform­al bar­be­cue with friends (ex. Impli­cit red), and oth­ers on a very import­ant event (ex. Expli­cit red or Rosa San­tos red).

Why? Any back­ground inform­a­tion of funny story is wel­come here

But if I must choose one, I would go for Expli­cit Pas­sito (sweet wine) because it’s the one that was harder and most dif­fi­cult to “deliv­er”. This is a slow mak­ing wine with a pre­vi­ous four week pro­cess of pas­ser­il­lage (pro­cess of dry­ing grapes), fol­lowed by a very linger­ing but supple press­ing oper­a­tion and a two month extremely slow bar­rel fermentation.

Please describe and tell the story of the label we selected

The name of the wine derives from our wine­mak­ing philo­sophy. With min­im­al inter­ven­tion farm­ing and oen­o­lo­gic­al prac­tices. We make use solely of the loc­al terroir and the nat­ive grape vari­et­ies. EXPLICIT meant, in Medi­ev­al Lat­in, some­thing that had just been unveiled. Reflect­ing our guid­ing philo­sophy we want to say, by means of its name, that this wine reveals in a genu­ine way all the attrib­utes of our vineyard.

Please describe the wine we have chosen, includ­ing the grape(s) used

On the nose it has aromas of prunes, carob and dried black­ber­ries, wal­nuts, honey and puffed slate rock. On the pal­ate it has big com­plex­ity, but notes of glacé fruit and honey can be high­lighted. Very well bal­anced in acid­ity, sweet­ness and alco­hol, with an extra com­pon­ent of silky tan­nins which gives the wine sev­er­al dif­fer­ent gast­ro­nom­ic facets. Well struc­tured, with great length and harmonious.

How would you intro­duce the winery to the read­ers and your future customers?

On the rocky slopes of the foot­hills of Serra d’Ossa , where once there was dust, rock roses, small oak trees and arid land, are now planted four hec­tares of vine­yards. A vine­yard that res­ul­ted from the effort, ded­ic­a­tion and per­sever­ance of all those that, under the Alen­tejo relent­less sun,  rewar­ded us with their work and sweat. With strong links to farm­ing, from times stretch­ing back to the peri­od of Mar­quis de Pom­bal, it has in the present gen­er­a­tion the main driv­ing of this „small pro­ject”. By the hand of the Rosa Santo’s Fam­ily and three wine­maker broth­ers, the EXPLICIT and IMPLICIT wines were born.

More inform­a­tion can be found here:

Face­book https://​www​.face​book​.com/​r​o​s​a​s​a​n​t​o​s​f​a​m​i​l​i​a​.​v​i​n​h​os/
[galer­ia 30]

Boas Quintas – Her­dade de Gam­bia vörös címke

Mar­ket­ing man­ager Rita Nunes was so kind and answered my ques­tions.
Which is your favour­ite wine from the sortiment?

Boas Quintas is a multi-regional pro­ject with wines from some regions of Por­tugal – Setúbal, Dão,  Bucelas, Douro, Porto, and Alen­tejo. Boas Quintas winemaker’s philo­sophy is simple: “to respect the unique iden­tity of each terroir”. This way, each wine has its own per­son­al­ity and it is impossible to choose a favor­ite. Although, we might choose a spe­cif­ic one for a par­tic­u­lar moment or food accompaniment.

Please describe and tell the story of the label we selected

Azores is all about nature, but in Por­tugal there are oth­er fant­ast­ic places to observe nature in its wild state. Her­dade de Gam­bia is an example of that, loc­ated on the banks of the Sado estu­ary, where an authen­t­ic sanc­tu­ary of migrat­ory birds exalt the land­scapes of this region and of the vine­yards where Her­dade de Gâm­bia wines come from.

Each wine of Her­dade Gâm­bia rep­res­ents a bird that could be found there.
Her­dade de Gâm­bia Red label has an illus­trated  black-winged stilt (Himan­topus himan­topus), a  bird that can be quite com­mon in this region, arriv­ing to form con­cen­tra­tions of a few dozen indi­vidu­als, in times of migrat­ory pas­sage. This wine is a blend of Touriga Nacion­al, Syrah and Aragonez. Rich and fla­vor­some red, with spice and per­fume com­bined with red berry fruit, this is a wine with supple tan­nins and fresh fruit fla­vors. It is ideal for grilled meat, pasta and spicy dishes.

Her­dade de Gâm­bia Rosé is illus­trated with a grey her­on (Ardea cinérea). At nearly 1 meter in height, it is the largest of the her­ons that occur in Por­tugal. This wine is  a blend of Touriga Nacion­al and Syrah. With pink col­or, straw­berry and rasp­berry aroma, this fresh and eleg­ant wine goes well with appet­izers, medi­ter­ranean, asi­an food and salads.
Her­dade de Gâm­bia White has a great­er flamingo (Phoen­i­copter­us ros­eus) illus­tra­tionon its label. Huge, rosy, with long legs and with a thick beak, the flamingo is an unmis­tak­able bird and can be recog­nized from a great dis­tance. It is not uncom­mon to observe con­cen­tra­tions of many hun­dreds of indi­vidu­als. This wine is a blend of Mosca­tel graúdo and Fernão Pires. Green colored, with an exuber­ant flor­al aroma and trop­ic­al notes, it’s creamy, per­sist­ent and per­fect for starters, sea­food and grilled fish.

How would you intro­duce the winery to the read­ers and your future customers?

Boas Quintas was born in the year of 1991. It all began when Nuno Can­cela de Abreu, rep­res­ent­at­ive of the 4th gen­er­a­tion of a fam­ily with farm­ing and wine­mak­ing tra­di­tion of more than 130 years, decided to devote all of his exper­i­ence and all of his know­ledge in vit­i­cul­ture and oen­o­logy, to the ser­vice of the pro­ject that would allow him to cre­ate high qual­ity wines, full of char­ac­ter and personality.

In 2016 Boas Quintas won the “Best Com­pany 2016” award by the most import­ant  wine magazine in Por­tugal, Rev­ista de Vin­hos and Nuno Can­cela de Abreu, the wine­maker, was con­sidered “The Wine­maker of The Year 2016” by Aníbal Coutinho, one of the most import­ant wine crit­ics in Portugal.

Her­dade de Gâm­bia is a brand from Setúbal region, but Fonte do Ouro and Agenda da Vinha are oth­er brands, from Dão, that you prob­ably would like to taste (among oth­er brands from dif­fer­ent regions).

More inform­a­tion can be found here:

Web­site www​.boasquintas​.com
Face­book www​.face​book​.com/​b​o​a​s​q​u​i​n​tas
Ins­tagram https://​www​.ins​tagram​.com/​b​o​a​s​q​u​i​n​t​as/
It’s pos­sible to make reser­va­tions for a wine tast­ing exper­i­ence and guided vis­it to the winery in Mortágua (Dão Region).
If you want to have a dif­fer­ent and pleas­ur­able day, sur­roun­ded by mag­ni­fi­cent birds, we sug­gest you to vis­it  www​.her​dade​gam​bia​.com, where  you could exper­i­ence bird watch­ing and taste Her­dade de Gâm­bia Wines.

Rui Roboredo Madeira – Vin­hos do Vale Douro – Beyra Alti­tude Rizling

This won­der­ful wine got our atten­tion on the first day of the fest­iv­al already, prob­ably because its taste is sim­il­ar to one of my favour­ite Hun­gari­an wine. There were only a few rieslings show­cased at the fest­iv­al.
A spokes­per­son of the winery, Fla­vio Machado answered my questions.

Which is your favour­ite wine from the sortiment?

We have more than 50 wines, it’s very hard to say which is our favour­ite, maybe “Beyra Grande Reserva Red Wine 2015, it’s from Beira Interi­or region.

Why? Any back­ground inform­a­tion of funny story is wel­come here

Because it’s our first “Grande Reserva” in Beira Interi­or region, and the most scored one, and it is from a old vines with 40 years.

Please describe the wine we have chosen (Beyra Alti­tude Riesling), includ­ing the grape(s) used

100% Riesling grapes from a plot of vine­yard at 750 m alti­tude, loc­ated in the vil­lage of Ver­mi­osa, in the sub-region of Caste­lo Rodrigo, with schist soils with quartz veins.

Aged with fine lees stirred ‘bat­on­nage’ until bot­tling in the end of Janu­ary, fol­lowed by bottle age­ing dur­ing 5 months at the Winery. This grape is not a usu­al type in Portugal.

How would you intro­duce the winery to the read­ers and your future customers?

In one of the most remote areas of the Iberi­an Pen­in­sula, on the bor­der between the Douro Super­i­or and Beira Alta regions, it was among the fam­ily that my pas­sion grew for the aromas and smells of this land that shapes our char­ac­ter. After com­ing into con­tact with many cul­tures of liv­ing and mak­ing wine, in vari­ous parts of the globe, I returned to the great Douro val­ley con­vinced that we have the poten­tial to make the best wines in the world. Out of respect for nature, due to the way we cul­tiv­ate our vine­yards, my wines reflect my exper­i­ences, which smell and taste of my land, of schist, damp gran­ite, rock rose, wild flowers and fruit. It is in my winery that I make wines with the char­ac­ter of our ‘terroir’, expressed through nat­ive grape vari­et­ies, which I instil with a style of their own and an inter­na­tion­al pro­file. This is my pas­sion: wines from the great Douro val­ley.” (Rui Roboredo Madeira, winemaker).

More inform­a­tion can be found here:

Weboldal www​.ruimadeira​.pt
Face­book https://​www​.face​book​.com/​R​u​i​M​a​d​e​i​r​a​.​pt/
Ins­tagram https://​www​.ins​tagram​.com/​r​r​m​v​i​n​h​os/

Par­ras Wines – Quinta do Gradil Sav­ign­on Blanc & Arinto

This white wine has been the favor­ite of sev­er­al mem­bers of our Hun­gari­an Jury. This wine is made from Arinto grapes – which is dif­fer­ent from the Arinto dos Açores grape, from the Azores Wine Com­pany. Apart from the excel­lent taste of the Par­ras Wines, I would like to high­light the high qual­ity of show­cas­ing the wines and the wine tast­ing exper­i­ence itself. This was one of the winer­ies where after the tast­ing – apart from hav­ing had the chance to try the excep­tion­ally good wine – we have also felt we learned some­thing new about the wines. It was won­der­ful to have a real “wine expert” attend to us and answer all our ques­tions with care and genu­ine interest.

Fre­derico Bicho, the CFO of Quinta do Gradil was kind enough to answer my questions.

Which is your favour­ite wine from the sortiment?

My per­son­al favour­ite is Quinta Gradil – White Reserve Chardon­nay & Arinto!

Why? Any back­ground inform­a­tion of funny story is wel­come here

It’s a very fun and com­plic­ated wine to make what with all that’s involved (bâton­nage, dif­fer­ent sorts of oaks, fine blend­ing, etc) and it’s incred­ibly eleg­ant on the nose and mouth!

Please describe the wine we have chosen (Quinta do Gradil Reserva and Sauvign­on Blanc & Arinto), includ­ing the grape(s) used

Bet­ter in 3 words: smooth, fresh, mouth­ful! While Chardon­nay is a world class grape, the Arinto is one of the finest wine grapes from Por­tugal, It’s huge acid­ity makes it a very use­ful blend­ing grape, par­tic­u­larly in the Lis­bon region. We also make a fine espumante from the same blend of grapes.

How would you intro­duce the winery to the read­ers and your future customers?

Quinta do Gradil is a 300+ year old estate that makes some of the finest wines in the region. It was awar­ded the wine com­pany of the year in 2016 and our chief wine­maker – António Ven­tura – was the wine­maker of the year in 2015!

We pro­duce incred­ibly fresh whites and ser­i­ous reds, among which the Syrah and Tan­nat grapes rule,

Try our Aguardente XO, over 40 years old, and be amazed at what a wine­maker can do when it’s time for the heavy stuff!

More inform­a­tion can be found here:

Web­site http://​www​.quintado​gradil​.wine/pt
Face­book https://​www​.face​book​.com/​q​u​i​n​t​a​d​o​g​r​a​d​il/
Ins­tagram https://​www​.ins​tagram​.com/​q​u​i​n​t​a​d​o​g​r​a​d​il/


I have spent a very enjoy­able 3 days at the Wine in Azores (Sao Miguel) in 2017. I would love to have an even big­ger Hun­gari­an Jury join­ing me in 2018. You can join our team to vis­it this event on the Eden Azores Face­book page. I abso­lutely recom­mend this event to every­one who would like to enjoy a very spe­cial exper­i­ence sur­roun­ded by lovely people, divine wine, and oth­er gast­ro­nom­ic treats – and all this on Ter­cer­ia island between the 25th – 27th of May 2018, and on Sao Miguel island between the 19th – 21st of Octo­ber, 2018. For more details please refer to the web­site of the event Wine in Azores.

Hereby I would like to thank the mem­bers of the Hun­gari­an “Jury” – Dori, Fruz­si, Andi, Krisztan, Judit, and Sza­bolcs – for their help in choos­ing the best wines and labels. I am very grate­ful for their enthu­si­asm dur­ing the first Eden Azores wine competition.

Of course many thanks for the par­ti­cip­at­ing winer­ies for their help and cooperation.

The ori­gin­al art­icle about our vis­it to Wine in Azores 2017 you can find HERE.

Related posts from the blog: Fest­ivalsGast­ro­nomyExper­i­ences.

If you would like to find out more about Azorean events please fol­low the Eden Azores Face­book page and the Edenazores Ins­tagram account.

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