Encosta da Cesta wine adega in the north of Portugal
When folk come to our little house they nearly always tell us that we have a lovely view. “Shucks,” I say, “everybody’s got one of those.”
Not entirely true, of course, but in this area it’s either up or down, and views, good and bad, come with the territory.
Now, as any fule no….if you have a pleasant view it’s only a matter of time before someone starts ruining it. Our view used to be, some twenty odd years ago, relatively pristine but, over time, houses, sheds, (probably without planning permission)…have detracted from its former state. New electricity pylons string their expensive threads across the landscape, reminding one of Japanese beauty spots….festooned with cables every which-way.
But, of course, this is progress (and we surely do need some in the long neglected North) – one must be grateful and accept the occasional eyesore for the greater good…as if one had any alternative.
However, a few months ago, I noticed some building activity in the valley about seven hundred meters away & it was clear that something big was afoot. Within a few days, a small aircraft hangar had risen from its foundations, inevitably drawing the eye to one of the ugliest excrescences to be seen from our eyrie….on asking what purpose my new eyesore would serve, a neighbor pointed at it and said “Cesta”…ye gods, a basket factory…oh untrammeled joy!
I had though, missed the neighbor’s words before Cesta. They were “Encosta da Cesta” and my neighbor, making drinking motions, was indicating Plonk. Our little village, Oleiros, near Ponte da Barca has its own Winery!
The other day, after waiting for some months for them to get their act together, I paid them a visit to find out what they had to offer.
The aircraft hangar contained state-of-the-art equipment of polished steel…bottling plant etc. and was quite impressive…no foot stomping here & no beetles in your bottles.
The boss wasn’t there but a helpful guy answered my few questions. They produce DOC Vinho Verde, red (Vinhão) & white (Loureiro) in two qualities & he proffered me a glass of the (lower) white which was certainly drinkable but unremarkable…the higher quality was though definitely something else!
Although I normally drink only Vinho Verde Branco, curiosity drove me to take a couple of bottles of Tinto along together with a case of Branco. I did the right thing. Twenty years ago, Ponte da Barca Vinho Verde (from the Cooperativa & the ‘home-brewed’ variety) could have substituted for Sarsons…today, the Cooperativa produces some of the best VV available.
Our new small private winery produces a red which is almost black in the glass, unusually full-bodied with a fairly high 12%Alc. I am not knowledgeable about wine but this, to me, is pretty good if you’re into red VV…….but I shall stick to the Branco..
The pale straw coloured 13% Alc. Branco was excellent; the wine tingles on the palate, slightly bubbly & a joy to drink, almost vying for favour with the great Ponte da Barca Vinho Verde Branco Meio Seco produced by the Cooperativa today.
I do not know where our new winery distributes its produce but, given its size, it cannot be too far afield. They obviously intend to expand, as a considerable area of the surrounding land is being planted with vines.
Should you be in the neighborhood, a visit to the winery is strongly recommended. Prices (at the Winery) for both Tinto & Branco, lower quality €1,50 a bottle…for the good stuff €2.50 – & and that price a better Vinho Verde would be hard to find, believe me!
A further visit to the winery was necessary because I had dispersed my first small stock to friends. This time I was fortunate to meet the owner, Senhor Nelson Cerqueira, whose father had bought the land as an investment while in Australia where Senhor Nelson was born, returning to Portugal when he was a small child.
Senhor Nelson is now planting, probably wisely, the Alvarinho grape variety & told me that he plans, eventually, to make ‘champagne’ (Cava, Sekt)….he told me that in 2011 he had produced approximately 250,000 liters. I thought this might be excessive & asked him to write it down…and so it is.
I think his market is local to the North & he is able to move it all…there is a small export to Andorra (neighbor connections) and he hopes to expand in the course of time.
While Cesta means basket of course, this particular Cesta is the name of one of the many small Lugars in the Freguesia.
To sum up, should you find some of this eminently drinkable wine in your Portugal travels, treat yourself.