Tag Archives: wine tour

Three Wines For Three People

Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages. – Louis Pasteur.  That’s the quote featured on the Qunita do Frances winery website. The winery is located near Silves, Portugal. We took a tour one late afternoon.  

Our guide told us the name of the winery reflects the fact that the owner is from France- a pathologist named Patrick Agostini, who came to Portugal because he married a Portuguese woman.  Makes sense that a French winery owner would use a quote from a famous French scientist like Louis Pasteur on his website.  

vineyard portugalAlthough born in France, Patrick is the descendant of an Italian family with a tradition in wine-making, He not only studied medicine but also viticulture (the cultivation of grapes) and oenology (the science and study of wine and winemaking)  near Bordeaux. So after moving to Portugal and getting a job as a pathologist at a hospital in Portimao he found a piece of property nearby where he could start a winery.
The vineyards surrounding the winery were planted in 2002 and the first Quinta do Frances wine produced  in 2008. Some of the Quinta do Frances wines have won awards both in Portugal and internationally. They use casks made from new French oak to age the wine. The Qunita do Frances winery  sells around 35,000 bottles of wine a year. Our tour guide was friendly and a veritable fount of information but all three of us figured we’d been on more exciting and interesting wine tours.   We enjoyed tasting our three different wines, a white, a red and a roseau,  but agreed we received equal enjoyment from the much cheaper Portuguese wines we buy for two or three dollars in the grocery store on our street in Praia da Luz.  

Other posts…….

Wine Canyon

A Fascinating Conversation in a Wine Shop in Lisbon

Roll Out the Barrel



Filed under Portugal

Don’t Be A Wine Snob!

“Don’t be a wine snob!” That was the first piece of advice we received from our zany guide Robert Bevan who we met on a trip to New Zealand. He led a wine tour we joined in Hawkes Bay, on the east coast of the north island. Robert, a former PGA golf caddie, grew up in British Columbia, Canada. He decided to live in New Zealand after holidaying there and falling in love with the country’s golf courses and wines. Robert was funny, enthusiastic and incredibly knowledgeable about wine.

Robert said wine is like art, poetry or music. Everyone has individual tastes and personal preferences. What one person thinks is a great wine another person might not like at all. Only ‘wine snobs’ think they can choose the ‘best’ wines. Despite his warning about wine snobbery, Robert unabashedly praised New Zealand wines. He claimed they ranked third in the world after wines from California’s Napa Valley and the Bordeaux region of France.

It was French missionaries who introduced wine to New Zealand. The Pope sent a group of priests there in 1842 to covert the Maori people to Christianity. The holy fathers knew they’d need communion wine so they brought along their own vintner. He carried cuttings from the best French vineyards and within a decade produced the first New Zealand wine.

We visited four New Zealand wineries on our tour and tasted 30 different wines. Three wineries encouraged us to sip and enjoy their various vintages and varieties. However at the Hatton Estate Winery they taught us a true wine taster spits rather than sips. They poured us generous glasses of wine. After swirling the wine around to release the aroma we were instructed to stick our noses fully into our goblet and sniff heartily to inhale the scent. Next we were to gulp all the wine in our glass and swish it around in our mouth for up to a minute, being sure it reached every corner and crevice and taste bud. Then we were to spit the wine out into the huge buckets provided.

Dan Baker owned the Maona Park Winery. He had studied oenology (the art of winemaking) in Canada. Dan asked us to describe the taste of one of the wines he poured for us. Interestingly, we all tasted different things. A woman from England said it tasted like rose petals. A man from Auckland compared the wine to Turkish Delight candy. My husband thought it tasted like tomatoes. A woman from Finland said it reminded her of asparagus. Dan said we all have certain taste memories stored in our brain. Different wines trigger different memories for us. That’s why four people drinking the same wine each taste something different.

At the Salvatore Winery, our ever -resourceful guide, Robert, brought out a basket filled with nuts and raisins, chunks of dark German rye bread, different New Zealand cheeses, cranberry sauce, artistically sliced kiwis and apples, paper -thin slices of spicy salami, and containers of different flavored olive oils. We sat at wooden tables next to the vineyard, basking in the warm New Zealand sun, enjoying a delightful picnic along with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. At that moment I couldn’t have agreed more with Ernest Hemingway who once said, “Wine is the most civilized thing in the world.”

Other posts about wine…….

Wine Stories

Wine Canyon

Other posts about New Zealand…..

New Zealand Retirement Advice

Taonga Treasures

A Christmas Day In Hell

A Kiwi A Day


Filed under Food, New Zealand, Travel