There was a full house at Pimenta Preta restaurant in Carvoeiro last Friday night, mostly due to a large group of Swedish residents at whose request the restaurant’s owner Nuno Diogo (also of Michelin-starred Bon Bon restaurant) laid on a special dinner served with Esporão wines. Australian winemaker David Baverstock, the man behind the wines at Esporão, was there to talk guests through the wines being served.
The restaurant has just recently taken on a new chef, so watch this space for news coming soon on an all-new menu at Pimenta Preta, which will include a selection of Asian specialities alongside the Portuguese and Mediterranean dishes.
The first wine served to us was David’s varietal white made from the Verdelho grape. It was the 2015 vintage and whilst very pleasant, this is one of the very rare occasions when I would recommend my readers to opt for a more recent vintage.
I visited Esporão a few months ago, shortly after they had bottled the 2016 Verdelho, which is just now making its way to the market, and it is an altogether different wine from the 2015. So keep an eye open for the 2016, which should hit the shelves soon, and expect a fresh and vibrant wine with a nose not dissimilar to a new world Sauvignon Blanc. David says that 2016 was an exceptional vintage for the Verdelho grape at Esporão. The 2015, all the same, paired well with flambé garlic prawns.
Next, served with our fish course of sea bass with coriander risotto and champagne sauce, came perhaps the best known Esporão wine of all, the good old reserva white. This is a wine I prefer with a few years bottle-age on it, but the 2015, if still a little oaky on the nose for my taste, was drinking well and proved to be an excellent match for the dish.
Moving on to our meat course of confit duck with gratin potato and orange sauce, we were served yet another wine from the 2015 vintage – this time the 4 Castas (4 varieties) red made from Trincadeira, Syrah, Alicante Bouchet and Touriga Nacional. Now I would never order such a young red wine when ordering for myself, but I have to say that this extremely fruity red from Esporão worked particularly well with the rich and sweet orange sauce that was served with duck.
To finish, one of the classic Pimenta Preta puddings which I hope the new chef will keep on the menu – a classic, home-made chocolate fondant – was served with an excellent 10-year-old Tawny port from the Douro winery Quinta das Murças which is part of the Esporão empire and hence also produced by David.
All in all a very enjoyable meal and proof, if it was needed, that Esporão are still at the top of the game in the Alentejo when it comes to marrying high quality with mass production.
By Patrick Stuart