Last week, we hosted a group of North American journalists, sommeliers and chefs at Herdade do Esporão and Quinta dos Murças.
«The impact of these visits is very important. We share our history, culture, traditions, our gastronomy and, of course, our wines. Our objective is providing the best possible experience», says Pedro Vieira, who is responsible for the North American market.
The group’s first stop was Lisbon, where they wandered down by the River Tagus, tried a few restaurants and cafés and visited the Mercado da Ribeira.
«One of the best markets I’ve ever been to», Chef Mike Isabella.
Mike Isabella was one of the guests on this visit. Owner and chef at restaurants like Kapnos, Kapnos Taverna, Pepita, G, Requin, Yona and the well-known Graffiato. His inspiration ranges from Italian to Japanese, not forgetting Greek, Mexican and French.
The winner of a number of awards and prizes, he has also featured on the TV programme, Top Chef. Resident in Washington, he travels the world looking for new flavours and inspirations. Despite knowing almost all of Europe, he had yet to visit Portugal, which made this journey particularly special.
After the first impact in Portugal and discovering some of our culture in the capital, the group travelled Herdade do Esporão, where they spent two days.
For another of the guests, New York journalist and presenter of the digital programme Potluck video Daily Meal, Ali Rosen, this wasn’t her first time in Portugal, although she had never visited the Alentejo.
«This is all beautifull; it’s very different to other winegrowing regions i’ve visited. In the USA, very little is being written about Portugal and portuguese wine. Basically, what we know is port and ‘vinho verde‘ and I think that the Alentejo has fantastic wines that have to be discovered. And we are here in the place where those wines are made and walking around the vineyards, it makes everything easier, it helps us understand them better.» Ali Rosen
In addition to the usual visits to the wineries and wine tasting, the guests were also able to have lunch at Restaurante Esporão and enjoy the dishes made by Chef Pedro Pena Bastos.
«This restaurant is incredible and the chef is a well-kept secret that, for the moment, few people have discovered and, in a way, I hope it stays that way, so I feel privileged» confessed Ali, who has travelled all over the world, in constant contact with sommeliers
and great chefs.
For chef Mike, our restaurant was also a surprise and he was unable to hide his enthusiasm when talking about the experience: «The food combines perfectly with the wines, the wine with the food, the techniques used in each dish, the flavour, this restaurant could have three Michelin stars».
Minwoo Kim Kwon, sommelier
of the Jean Georges restaurant
, in New York, also in Portugal for the first time, highlights some wines «The first Esporão wine I tried was the Verdelho. Now I’m enjoying the Defesa do Esporão, here on the terrace, overlooking the vineyards».
One of the things the group did was the Blend Creation Tasting, where guests are invited to make their own wine, which involves everything from choosing the grape variety to the label on the bottle.
Nicholas Pagonis, George Pagonis and public relations manager Marisa Jetter da Teuwen were the winners with the wine “3-2-1”. Despite the result, the combination of experiences meant they weren’t the only winners.
«This tasting is very interesting. We can see the spirit of the winemaker emerge, the decisions, the imagination, it’s curious. My team wanted a summer wine and that’s what we did. We lost, but liked the result» Ali says, rather sportingly.
Chef Mike Isabella, didn’t win the tasting either but his visit to Portugal won’t be forgotten:
«This place is inspiring, the people, the culture, the wines, the olive oil and the landscape. I have discovered new concepts, new flavours, new languages».
Mike also confessed that this trip to Portugal may bear other fruit: «We’re preparing a new concept in Washington, which I can’t talk about now, but this visit will be very useful to get it off the ground».
This was a unique opportunity for them to see our work at close quarters and take Esporão to new places.
«We want our guests to leave Portugal with the idea that we have a remarkable country that offers great experiences at all levels. Who knows, our guests may prove ambassadors for Esporão and become very important in spreading the word and promoting our products with knowledge and enthusiasm» Pedro Vieira.