With a few international recognitions under his belt -he has been awarded the title of 'Portuguese Oenologist of the Year” and was one of the 'Flying Winemakers' immortalized in a Time magazine article about Australian oenologists revolutionizing wine production techniques around the globe – Baverstock is highly-regarded as one of the best oenologists of our time.
In recent years, Portugal’s wine tourism has skyrocketed and put the country back on the international wine map. Alentejo is definitely on the top of the list as one of the must-visit destinations not only for the fantastic wines coming out of the region but also for its undeniable natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.
In Alentejo, visitors might even forget about Portugal’s most famous wine, Port, as they taste the superb local reds and refreshing whites. Can you tell us more about how wine in Alentejo is different from Portuguese wine from other regions in the country?
Alentejo wines, both red and whites, tend to be more soft, balanced and fruity than wines from other regions although this is a broad generalization. This has to do largely with the warm to hot climate, and full grape ripening.
The reds have softer tannins and lower acidity, with alcohols on the high side. Whites are more full- bodied and again lower in acidity.
The consistent climate and large-scale viticulture mean that the wines are well priced and great value for money. Of course, there are excellent quality, high-end Alentejo wines with the increasing use of better varieties, including Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Verdelho and Semillon.
David Baverstock, Head Winemaker at Herdade do Esporão
Your winery offers and extraordinary range of exclusive activities -with something to cater for everyone’s preferences: from the kitchen gardens and ampelographic field, to “time travel” at the Perdigões Archaeological Complex; from a fine dining restaurant to a harvest program and guided tastings of your wines.
How would you describe the “Esporão Experience” to travelers planning to visit your Alentejo wine estate?
Herdade do Esporão, located in Reguengos de Monsaraz offers an exclusive Alentejo experience with tour circuits, thematic wine and olive oil tastings, a restaurant and experiences in the wider territory of the estate.
Starting with a visit to the new Olive Oil Mill, followed by a tasting of historic wines in the company’s new cellar tasting room, visit to the vineyards, the Lagares Winery, the ampelographic field and the Historic Centre are some of the features.
Lunch in the estate restaurant is also a great option. We offer a seasonal menu that highlights the origin of the products and reinterprets gastronomic traditions, following the principles of “zero waste”. The menu also includes, monthly, a dish inspired by the recipes in Esporão & A Comida Portuguesa a Gostar Dela Própria (Esporão and Portuguese Cuisine Enjoying Itself).
Wine is part of your daily life and surely, you have some fond memories of experiences that involved wine too. Can you share your two favorite/best memories of “Wine & Travel” with Wine Paths’ readers searching for inspiration for their next wine holiday?
My first vintage in Europe was in Morgon, Beaujolais in 1982 and I still remember the amazing atmosphere during the harvest: every day there was a party in the evening and we tasted some great French wines - I had maybe my first exposure to top red Burgundy, a Musigny ’78. I still remember the texture and silkiness of this great wine. I am a big fan of the Burgundy region and try and go back every few years.
Herdade do Esporão in Alentejo, Portugal