I’m a fan of picnic table design that unobtrusively accommodates ice and white wine. Therefore, I certainly appreciate these clay inserts (pictured) to keep your wine well-chilled. And while visiting Herdade do Esporão on a press trip, and experiencing some degree of the searing heat of the Alentejo region of Portugal (near the town of Évora close to the Spanish border), I think they were wise to equip each picnic table at their tourism facility with multiples of these wine cooling stations.
Esporão makes a variety of oaked and unoaked white wines. If you’re looking for unoaked whites, I have become quite familiar with the 2011 Monte Velho (a blend of traditional Portuguese grapes: Antão Vaz, Roupeiro, and Perrum) and the 2011 Duas Castas.
What’s cool about the Duas Castas is that each year the blend changes. For example, the 2011 is a mix of Semillon and Viosinho. I would say it’s a touch richer and fuller than the Monte Velho, but certainly not a bruiser of a white. It could easily be categorized as a porch-pounder.
The Esporão Reserva and Private Selection are the oaked white wine offerings. The Reserva is a similar blend to the Monte Velho, and the Private Selection recalls the Duas Castas but with a lot more Semillon and a touch of Marsanne and Roussanne added to the mix. I like the richness, texture, and complexity the oak add to these wines. They’re not like drinking a liquified 2×4, but certainly not shy about their oak presence. I love searingly acidic, unoaked wines as much as the next guy (hello, Muscadet) but I’m finding myself welcoming back the presence of oak in my whites wines. As long it’s not the overwhelming component, I’m fine with it. And if you find that the oak is a little too much out in front, I beseech you to seek out a seafood dish with a cream-based sauce. Seafood+cream+oaked white wine=major deliciousness.
Oh yes, I also promised you some pork. We happened to be visiting Esporão the day they dedicated their new wine tourism facility and there was no shortage of Presunto de Barrancos. The acorn-fed black Alentejo pigs produce cured meats that look like this:
I love the bemused look of the guy hand-slicing this ham. Or, possibly, a not-amused look as I snap my opportunistic, unsolicited photograph. James Tidwell (observing), who is also on this trip, is waiting to get the nod for a lesson in slicing.
If I could read his mind, I would guess James is thinking about the journey towards becoming a Master Hammelier.
I am an invited guest of Esporão who is the sponsor of this press trip.