FINCA & Romeu Winemaker Dinner, with winemaker Joao Meneres of Quinta do Romeu
And special guest Jon Zubeldia, General Manager, Astobiza Winery
Saturday, May 14th at 6:30 PM
$40 tasting menu, $30 wine pairings + tax/gratuity
At FINCA, 327 West 200 South
Portugal. It is official. This country is now on my map. Not the literal map, but the metaphorical map, the one that we have in our minds that signifies, somehow, what's on our minds. Some call it their radar. I'll stick with map. Cartography seems more appropriate, what with the storied tales of sea-faring and circumnavigating, and the global empirical aspirations associated with the country.
Much of my travel is based, unabashedly and enthusiastically, around wine. It works out really well, too. With wine comes rich history and distinct culture, a certain (usually quite pleasant) climate, fascinating and hard-working farmer/artist types, and a landscape that is more often than not either quite near the mountains or quite near the sea...sometimes both. One is almost guaranteed to eat well and recreate well when traveling is wine focused. Needless to say, there are far too many locales for most people to knock off their bucket wine-travel destination lists. I've never been to Portugal. And initially my desire to travel to Portugal over all the other places on my list was quite low. It's Port's fault. Fortified wines have never really made me swoon. I like them, I've had some ridiculous examples aged for decades and have been very impressed. Am I passionate about them? Not really. So it’s not all that crazy to say that while growing up in the wine world, I focused very little on Portugal since fortified wines are what the country has been most famed for the last 300 years. Over the last 20 years, however, there has been a shift. A new propensity for farmers and winemakers to take a larger portion of what was formerly destined for Port production, and vinify instead dry table wines from their red grapes. The results have been outrageously successful, usually at jaw dropping value, and their success is now deservedly making waves internationally.
Case in point: Quinta do Romeu, and the wine estate I blame for ultimately rearranging my wine-travel priorities. After my first introduction with Romeu, a wine dinner that was held this time last year at Finca's former location, I was smitten. First and foremost, the wines are stunners. Effusively aromatic, structured, age-worthy reds, svelte and complex whites, and refreshingly pretty rosé all made from the unique local varieties, these wines are not soon forgotten after they've disappeared from your glass. Of course I would want to drink these wines at the source! But it was the research I've done since that would lead me to say that I simply must get there. And more specifically, if I were to go to only one single estate in all of Portugal, Quinta do Romeu would be that one.
It seems to me that the sprawling estate of Quinta do Romeu represents, miraculously in one family holding, all of Portugal. The rich family history of the estate dates back to 1857. The estate itself is comprised of thousands and thousands of acres of which only 60 acres are dedicated to vines. Another 300 acres are dedicated to olives. The rest is wild and pretty much unfettered and intense, including the innumerable cork oaks that forest a large portion of the land (from which all bottles receive their high quality cork finish). All operations are certified organic, and as previously mentioned, overseen entirely by descendants of the original family. The offices are even located on the Unesco World Heritage Site of the Marine Promenade in Porto, along the Duoro river.
I write all this, somewhat begrudgingly, as I won't be able to swing a wine trip to Portugal any time soon, no matter how high it is on the list. There is solace to be taken in this situation, however. The second annual Quinta do Romeu wine dinner is not far off, the evening of Saturday, May 14th to be exact. Chef de Cuisine Elloy Berumen, Executive Pastry Chef Natalie Keller and Sous Chef Jaime Munez have crafted a multi-course menu to pair with the majestic wines of Quinta do Romeu.
Quinta do Romeu winemaker João Pedro Menéres, and importer Brad Jensen from Bon Vivant Imports (www.bonvivantimports.com) will be on hand to regal us with tales of a Portuguese wine legacy, the slow persistent river Duoro, the rocky, dramatic, schistous hillsides, and a commitment to steward one's soil to the best of one's ability, while we breathe deeply and taste the place with the help of some absolutely stunning wines. João will have a few of his 2011's with him, and if you've been doing YOUR research, you know that these are wines you don't want to miss.