Duas Pedras 2013, Sonho Lusitano Vinhos, Portalegre, Alentejo

Enjoying a sunset drink made by our friend Richard Mayson up at Sonho Lusitano Vinhos, near Portalegre. ‘Duas Pedras’ translates as ‘two stones’, referring to the granite and schist soils in the vineyards. It’s a fresh red with a soft smokiness, a touch of caramel, crisp black fruit and a touch of spice. Just right…

Valencia de Alcantara

One of the joys of being on the border is that you can nip over to Spain to experience a different culture and time zone (make the most of this when you’re hungry for lunch but nothing’s yet open in Portugal).  You may doubt much difference can be gained by driving a few km across…

Castelo de Vide

Castelo de Vide is a hilltop town whose steep winding cobbled streets are decorated with plant pots, cats and washing lines, and whose white-washed stone homes mingle with churches and fountains. The remnants of the 14th century castle (which dates originally from Roman times), totter at the highest end of the town, and are squeezed…

Marvão

The fairytale castle of Marvão stands on a granite hilltop, almost 1km high, at the edge of Portugal, overlooking Spain on one side and a patchwork of Portuguese olive groves and open plains to the other. On a fine day (which is almost every day in this region) you can trace the hair-pin road you…

The wines of the Alto Alentejo

Though the Alentejo takes up a full one-third of the land mass of Portugal, the heat and arid conditions have traditionally meant that the region’s strongest link to quality wine was through its cork trees. Not any more though. The region is now ‘being touted as the new Tuscany’ (according to the Guardian) with the…

Castelo de Marvão Olive Oil Press and Museum

Did you know that most of the olive oil available today has not been pressed, but extracted using chemical solvents? That you can call an oil ‘extra virgin’ just by adding some acidity? That cigarette lighters used to be smuggled over the border from Spain to Portugal because you needed a licence to own one?!?…