Alentejo – Mértola

Alentejo - Mértola

Cá fora, sob uma luz intensa reflectida nas paredes claras, Mértola mostra-se semelhante a muitos locais do Alentejo, com as ruas engalanadas de laranjeiras, pequenos comércios com os produtos locais e trânsito lento. Mas, aos poucos, conforme se entra na zona muralhada e se pisam as gastas lajes, uma história grandiosa revela-se sob os nossos pés e olhos, desmentindo a aparente pequenez do burgo.

É bom viver no Alentejo!
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Alentejo – A força da terra

 

No Alentejo, a força da terra marca o tempo.

A amplitude da paisagem é entrecortada por sobreiros ou oliveiras que resistem ao tempo.
E por muito que se conheça há sempre mais por conhecer!

É bom viver no Alentejo!
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Um Alentejo pop

Imagine um enorme descampado com casinhas em taipa brancas com janelas azuis.

Em seguida, as imponentes ruinas romanas de Cucufate, de 1.d.C.. Agora junte a  esse cenário, uma construção ultra moderna, uma enorme caixa de concreto envidraçada, rodeada de vinhas e alfazemas e recheada de obras de arte, objetos de design, wine bar, comida alentejana e ótimos vinhos. Pois estamos falando da Herdade do Rocim, a mais ‘pop’ das 250 vinícolas do Alentejo.

É um dos raros projetos modernos de uma região onde predominam construções centenárias. E técnicas de vinificação milenares também: perto dali, a tradicional José Maria da Fonseca continua engarrafando vinhos fermentados em antiquissimas anforas de barro.O projeto é do arquiteto Carlos Vitorino, que conseguiu erguer uma construção moderníssima, sem destoar da paisagem.  O muro maciço de pedras típicas dessa região encobre, da estrada que leva de Vidigueira até a vila de Cuba, baixo Alentejo, as linhas modernas da sede.

 

 

 A Herdade do Rocim, vinicola nova, manda para o Brasil suas três linhas de vinhos: Olho de Mocho (mocho é o nome de uma planta local), Rocim (raça de um cavalo) e Grande Rocim. São oito rótulos distintos e 250 mil garrafas, entre 40 tintos e 20 brancos, uma combinação de castas como Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouchet, Touriga Nacional, Antão Vaz e outras uvas que crescem pelos seus 60 hectares.

 

São seis mil metros quadrados de área construida, onde os grandes espaços predominam. Ali, os vinhos são vinificados em meio a telas…

 

 

 

 

Concertos musicais, peças e mais uma, loja de design bacanérrima, wine bar, restaurante e uma adorável livraria só com titulos relacionados ao vinho, da poesia e romance aos guias e obras técnicas. 

 

 

Uma das atrações do anfiteatro ao ar  aivre ( palco dos mais variados espetáculos) é a escada de azulejos vermelhos, por onde corre a água que vai dar no espelho d´ agua: você jura  que é vinho tinto correndo.

 

Mas apesar de todas as bossas que pontuam o projeto, o principal salãodo Rocim abriga um grande largar em mármore branco, quase uma escultura:é ali onde acontece o pisa-pé ou seja, quando as uvas são esmagadas com os pés, prática ainda comuníssima nessa parte de Portugal. 

 

 

 

 

 ” Dá-me mais vinho que a vida é nada”. ” A vida é boa, mas o vinho é melhor” ambas de Fernando Pessoas. No wine bar/ restaurante, come-se queijos cremosos com pão alentejano (espetáculo!), sopa de cação (já provou?) e “burras”, as clássicas bochechas do porco servida com migas. E ouvindo fados com Amália Rodrigues ou Mariza (adoro).

 


No bar wine, organizam degustações da linha completa da casa. Há mesas espalhadas pelo varanda descoberta. O Gran Rocim Reserva é o top dali e sai por 50 euros a garrafa. Mas curtição mesmo é beber o Mariana e conhecer a razão do nome do rótulo

 

 

foto do Oscar Daudt, que não saiu com crédito hoje, no ELA (minhas desculpas)

 

Remete à Mariana Alcoforado, freire que viveu um romance palpitante (e frustante também) com o Marquês de Chamilly. Foram jutas de amor documentadas em cartas, tempos depois reunidas no belo livro “Cartas Portuguesas”, iniciativa da própria Mariana. A soror virou abadessa e morreu aos 83 anos, em um convento em Beja, cidade vizinha ao Herdade do Rocim.

 

Não é o Alentejo na sua essencia?”

Por:Luciana Fróes/Globo 

 

Head south to the Tuscany of Portugal

WHEN most British holidaymakers think of Portugal, they probably think of the Algarve. But there’s a lot more to this wonderful little country than the resorts on the south coast.

Alentejo is the next region north of the Algarve and covers most of the south of the country, sharing a border to the east with Spain.

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With rolling Mediterranean countryside dotted with olive groves and cork trees, it’s not hard to see why travel guides have dubbed it “the new Tuscany”.

The beautiful landscape is immediately welcoming, and combined with a relaxed, small town atmosphere and great food, it makes for a very appealing destination.

From perfectly preserved medieval castles to art galleries and aquariums, there’s something for all ages in the heart of Portugal.

Of particular appeal for tourists looking for somewhere different to stay are the region’s many “pousadas” – luxury hotels built in historic buildings.

There are 44 across the country and each one is unique, offering a wide choice of accommodation that is far more interesting than the average run-of-the-mill holiday hotel.

Pousada Flor da Rosa in Crato is a perfect example, formerly a castle, a convent and a palace. Previously a monastery for the Knights of the Order of Malta, the building’s many historic features have been preserved.

But between the parapets and stone walls are all the indulgences you might expect from an excellent hotel, including a swimming pool.

There’s plenty to see in Alentejo’s 12,000-square miles, so hiring a car to take in as many sights as possible is probably the best way to go.

High on your list should be the horse stud farm of Alter Real in Alter do Chão.

Housing the Lusitano horse – a Portuguese breed – it is also a horse riding school dating back to the 18th century.

Visitors can expect to see dozens of these impressive animals up close during a tour of the site.

But Alter Real is not just about horses. It is also home to an impressive aviary for hunting birds.

From the smallest to the mighty golden eagle, you can see a wide range of birds in what is a growing part of the complex.

Food is a pure pleasure in this part of the world. From traditional smoked sausage and cheese to a hearty dogfish soup, there are plenty of regional specialities to keep you going.

Desserts have a definite Arabic flavour, with the ubiquitous honey and almonds revealing the region’s Moorish roots.

If you stop in the town of Portalegre, then the restaurant Tomba Lobos is definitely worth a visit for any self-respecting foodie.

The literal translation – “it overthrows wolves” – won’t help you much, but your taste buds will thank you for indulging them.

Chef José Júlio Vintém offers a modern take on Portuguese cuisine in a setting that is stylish but without pretension.

Like so many in the region, Portalegre itself is a pretty town, filled with narrow, winding streets.

It’s also home to the museum of Alentejo tapestry with examples of the traditional Arroiolos carpets. These are unique recreations of original paintings, in the form of tapestry. The amount of effort that goes into the pieces is extraordinary and a great tribute to Portuguese craftsmanship.

With it’s rustic charm and Latin character, Alentejo is a region that will exercise your camera finger and your shoe leather. And there’s no better sight-seeing destination than the fortified hilltop town of Marvão.

The castle there dates back to the 13th century and there are outstanding views that reach as far as Spain on the horizon.

The town below is pure picture postcard, awash with those familiar Mediterranean white walls and terracotta roofs, gorgeous flowers and charming locals.

People here clearly enjoy life and it’s not hard to see why – beautiful surroundings and sun-kissed skies are a winning combination.

Of course, one of the main reasons so many Brits head to southern Europe is the weather.

At home, the unexpected late-summer heat in September was certainly welcome, but is far from guaranteed.

Alentejo, meanwhile, like much of Portugal, is pretty much guaranteed good weather whenever you decide to pop over for a visit.

You can reach Alentejo in little more than an hour from the capital Lisbon, itself just a few hours from Bristol, with plenty of flights to choose from.

Even in October, temperatures push towards 30 degrees centigrade, so if you’re looking for some pre-winter sunshine, this is definitely an affordable choice.

Património do Cante

Cante Alentejano – género musical característico do Baixo Alentejo

Sempre ouvi dizer que as raízes dos cantares tradicionais alentejanos eram árabes, e que remontavam aos séculos de domínio muçulmano do Sul de Portugal mas, confesso, e apesar de conhecer bastante música árabe, nunca encontrara entre elas qualquer analogia. Inclusive, alguma tentativas de aproximação entre as duas empreendidas por músicos contemporâneos, apesar de agradáveis, tinham sempre um sabor a casamento forçado.
Curiosamente, foi nas sinagogas sefarditas que encontrei melodias que me faziam de imediato lembrar as “modas” alentejanas das terras dos meus país.
As semelhanças encontram-se no todo, mas elas notam-se principalmente em pontos de contacto muito específico – o maior dos quais a sua forma “responsiva”, pois tanto na oração judaica como no cantar tradicional alentejano há um “líder” e um coro que responde. Mas é a forma como essa relação, esse diálogo melódico, se desenrola que parece deixar pouca margem para dúvidas acerca da evidente afinidade.

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The Alentejo: Portugal’s undiscovered wine region

Explore the earthy Alentejo wine region

Explore the earthy Alentejo wine region

WTG / Jonny Payne

Unpretentious, unhurried and relatively unknown as a tourism hub, the Alentejo in Portugal makes the perfect wine lovers’ getaway, says Jonny Payne.

The land is flat for as far as the eye can see as we make our descent into Beja Airport in the specially chartered, 48-seater aircraft. The scattered cork trees punctuate the landscape like a handful of drawing pins dropped from a great height onto the parched yellow grass below. This is the Alentejo, one of Portugal’s lesser-known regions, but an area that’s rapidly making a name for itself in the wine world.

Despite being a relatively new wine region, the Alentejo has long been involved in the industry. After all, the cork used for bottling has been sourced from this very area for decades. And while the new wineries of Portugal’s largest region are only now starting to make their mark, viticulture has actually been present since the Romans set foot on the fertile soil.

Why visit the Alentejo?

ALentejo sign 200
Follow the wine route between the numerous vineyards
WTG / Jonny Payne

As my friend Graham and I drive along the straight, empty roads between the various villages, vineyards and wineries on our Sunvil Discovery self-drive tour, we quickly realise this rural region has a very earthy and comforting feel.

The locals welcome us warmly wherever we go, while the food is comforting too, with hearty stews and casseroles. The delicious sopa de cação – a coriander- and garlic-based soup with chunks of meaty dogfish, sheep’s cheese and poached eggs, ladled generously over a bed of bread – is the standout dish. Pork and lamb stews, rabbit salads and sticky egg-based desserts are other local delicacies.

There are also plenty of attractions here, from the stunning, medieval hilltop town of Monsaraz and the narrow, winding streets of UNESCO World Heritage site Évora, to the watersports haven of the dammed Alqueva Lake.

And then there’s the wine…

Wines of the Alentejo

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Sample the full range of wines at the Alentejo’s wineries
WTG / Jonny Payne

The wine in the Alentejo is distinct from that of Portugal’s more northerly Douro region, which is famed for its fortified port wine. Here, the hot, dry climate allows for an intensity of flavours and high alcohol content characterised in full-bodied reds and aromatic whites.

Limestone soils prevail in the southern areas; chalky soils are found in the terroir around Évora, while marble chips dominate the soils of Estremoz. This creates distinct variations in the wines between the eight Alentejo DOC (designated controlled origin) subregions.

As we learn during our short time in the Alentejo, wines here are mostly composed of blends of native and introduced grape varieties, which allows for everything from easy drinking wines to robust alternatives. The whites, for example, can have either heavy oak-dominated profiles or fresh, tropical fruit overtones.

But red wine dominates here. Among the local grape varieties, Alicante Bouschet is notable for its rich, crimson colour, while Aragonês, Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira give red fruit and plum flavours. The few white varieties include Antão Vaz and Roupeiro, which their tropical fruit aromas, and Arinto with its citrus-dominated profiles.

Stay in the Alentejo’s vineyards

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Stay at the luxurious Herdade do Sobroso
WTG / Jonny Payne

If just tasting the wine isn’t enough, try staying in the various vineyards with on-site accommodation, ranging from family-friendly complexes to opulent, isolated hideaways.

The five-room, five-apartment Herdade do Sobroso  near Vidigueira certainly falls into the latter category. Overlooking the dammed Guadiana River, this estate is a veritable haven of tranquillity, where even a few electricity pylons fail to detract from the most relaxing of landscapes.

Our affable host Jorge takes us on a ‘safari’ through a setting that’s not too dissimilar to the African savannah. With no lions to see, we’re soon spotting scampering partridges, which can be hunted by guests. We emerge at the top of the hill to the incredible sight of the river, before returning to a delicious meal conjured up by resident cook Josefa. She treats us to fine examples of traditional Alentejo cuisine, including black pig in vinegar, stuffed field mushrooms and sopa de cação.

Herdade do Sobroso produces 200,000 bottles per year and friendly oenologist Filipe talks us through the various wines – my pick is the Herdade do Sobroso 2008 red with a mellow, red fruits palate and a plummy nose.

The Hotel Vila Galé Clube de Campo, meanwhile, provides an affordable, family-friendly alternative, with activities and a spa offering therapy treatments using wine-based products. I try the latter, and after being exfoliated, heat wrapped and massaged over the course of a few hours, I’m thoroughly relaxed and ready for another bout of wine tasting at the adjacent Santa Vittoria winery.

A truly lavish option is the elegant 5-star Convento do Espinheiro, a former convent in the charming walled town of Évora. It does not currently produce its own wine, but it more than makes up for it with a well-stocked cellar – the perfect venue for its evening wine tastings.

Wineries in the Alentejo

Alentejo quinta do mouro 200
Miguel Louro, the passionate owner of Quinta do Mouro
WTG / Jonny Payne

Most wineries in the Alentejo simply prefer to simply concentrate on the wine itself.

One such place is Quinta do Mouro in Estremoz, which has just 27 hectares (67 acres) of vines. We have the pleasure of meeting its owner, Miguel Louro; a tall, slightly wiry sixty-something man who’s a truly captivating character. Over the course of three hours, we try a number of wines, more classical in style than others we have previously sampled. The rich, chocolaty Quinta do Mouro 2006 is extremely moreish, while the Quinta do Mouro Gold Label 2007 is the pick of the wines I have tasted in the Alentejo. Given its intense nose and robust palate, it’s definitely a wine drinkers’ wine to be savoured slowly.

Clearly enjoying the company, Miguel opens more bottles until we regrettably have to move on. But that’s not before he’s shown us his wine cellar, which while rudimentary compared to the modern, thermostat-controlled cellars of other wineries, works perfectly due to the old-fashioned construction methods. Even the production process here is traditional, with the use of Portuguese oak, no irrigation, and the treading of the grapes by foot only.

The renowned Herdade do Esporão in Reguengos Monsaraz is a different operation altogether. Having eventually found the obscurely signposted turning from the town centre, we arrive at the largest private winery in the region, which produces 8 million litres (1.75 million gallons) of 20 different wines each year. And we’re about to sample what seems like a large percentage of that total.

Aided by Sandra, the resident oenologist, we try a number of wines before sitting down to a wonderful lunch consisting of a five-course meal and six different wines. It’s a pleasure to try these alongside the wonderful local cuisine, which complements the wine seamlessly.

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Harvest grapes at Monte da Ravasqueira
WTG / Jonny Payne

Other worthwhile stops include the vast cooperative Carmim in Reguengos Monsaraz, the biggest winery in the region, where we taste fermenting wines straight from the vats, and Monte da Ravasqueira in Arraiolos. The latter is not only distinct in having a fascinating collection of antique horse-drawn carriages, but it’s also the only vineyard that is still harvesting during our visit (the grapes matured surprisingly quickly this year due to the intense day and night-time temperatures). Much to my delight, I’m given a chance to harvest grapes, which brings the tour neatly to an end, having experienced the whole process from the field to the table.

The Alentejo is a wonderful place to learn about wine, or, (if you’re already a connoisseur) to experience an emerging, character-filled and unpretentious wine region – you’ll be surprised how much you can learn in a few days in this welcoming region.

The writer’s choice:

Quinta do Mouro Gold Label 2007 (Quinta do Mouro) – My favourite, a classical red with a deep colour, intense nose and robust palate. Made from the season’s best grapes.
Malhadinha 2008 (Herdade da Malhadinha Nova) – This red has robust aromas with vanilla and chocolate overtones. The label is decorated with a cow, drawn by one of the family’s children.
Garrafeira dos Socios 2004 (Carmim) – A rich, mellow red with dark fruit aromas, perfect with game.
Herdade Grande Rosé 2010 (Herdade Grande) – An unusually fresh wine from the region with summer fruits flavours.
Monte da Ravasqueira Flavours 2010 (Monte da Ravasqueira) – A limited-range rosé with intense raspberry and plum overtones, sadly only sold at the estate.
Arco 2010 (Herdade do Esporão) – A good entry-level white with peach and pineapple overtones, available in Waitrose, which also sells the fruity red in the same range.

Author:

Jonny Payne /World Travel Guide

A agricultura está de volta

A agricultura é uma questão de segurança nacional. Vítimas das reformas da PAC, nos últimos 20 anos temos vindo a perder cultura de território, que demorámos centenas de anos a adquirir. Temos gradualmente abandonado a agricultura e vimos as nossas reservas estratégicas reduzidas a números assustadores.
Assumimos uma vocação florestal, que foi importante para a economia a curto prazo, mas devastadora para o território a médio/longo prazo, como tem demonstrado os últimos anos, em que vimos boa parte do território nacional a arder e os solos, já de si pobres, a empobrecerem ainda mais.
A boa notícia é que a agricultura está de volta. Os novos agricultores são pessoas que voltam a ter uma grande cultura de território e visão a longo prazo, da importância da agricultura para o seu país e para o seu legado.