Believe me: a visit to João Portugal Ramos cellar in Estremoz is, without a doubt, a trip for the senses!
João Portugal Ramos is a renowned Portuguese wine producer – with brand-new bottles reaching the market frequently since 1990 – and has several projects all over the country. It is easy to understand why I decided to pay them a visit. The main reason however, was something else.
I read a book, in which came the story of the winemaker-producer, how he got started in winemaking and how colour blindness turned him into an excellent professional. The truth of the matter is, having been brought up in a world lacking colour, it was his nose that revealed the world, flowers and fruits, the charm of the countryside and later on, the wine!
After a week of rain, the day I visited João Portugal Ramos, St. Peter, the weather patron, was feeling generous and the property was sunlight drenched under a perfect blue sky.
The estate follows Alentejo’s traditional design and was built from the ground up in the 90s, no details missing. From the stone courtyard, the yellow framing, the wooden porches, to the whitewashed fountains and sunlit benches overlooking the property, everything breathes Alentejo.
The visit exposed all the nooks and corners of the abode, together with the colourful gardens, the ageing barrels cellar, the cosy events room and the shop where, in addition to wine, you will find olive oil and further local produce.
I was asked to create my own wine as part of the ‘Winemaker for a Day’ experience. With three single grape variety wines, kept in small casks in the tasting room, and the help of measuring tools, technical charts and, of course, my taste buds, I made my own blend of Touriga Nacional, Aragonês and Alicante Bouschet, which was bottled on the spot and labelled with a customized caption, ready to be taken home!
Before saying goodbye, I was surprised by a full cheese and Oliveira Ramos olive oil selection, paired with the tempting Alentejo bread (my favourite!) and, naturally, João Portugal Ramos wines.
Among the 15 trademarks made in Alentejo, I tried one from the starter wines range, Loios white and red – elegant wines, with an intense fruit aroma and good lingering taste – and Pouca Roupa white and red, by João Portugal Ramos’s son – an unpretentious fresh and fruity wine – which goes to show winemaking talent is a family trait and will be carried on for many years to come!