castas de portugal

Tejo river goes way beyond the red iron bridge, the Belém tower and the grilled fish in Cacilhas. Tejo is also a great wine region, known by its Fernão Pires white grape

 

The river is about 1000 km long, of which 275 cross Portugal. Far from Lisbon, there is a less known but not less charming Tejo!

Around it, in a flat and verdant landscape, we find different zones – Lezíria or Campo (more fertile soil), Bairro (clay-limestone soil) and Charneca (sandy soil and therefore poorer) – that have in common the production of excellent wines!

We are in September and this is the time of year that we live the vine with more enthusiasm!

And so I was invited to harvest the white variety Fernão Pires from Tejo, at Cadaval estate in Muge. A house with 400 years of history in the family, but with an ancient tradition in wine production. The 106 acres of vineyards are inserted in a property to be lost sight of, where the vineyards coexist with a stud farm of more than 20 Lusitano mare.

The day started with a nice breakfast in the barrel room, because a farmer needs their food to endure the hard work on the field! In the group to which I joined the work was not so hard but enough to learn to handle a pruning shears and to know the Fernão Pires from Tejo grape in its origin.

©CVR Tejo, by Gonçalo Villaverde

A tractor with straw benches brought us from the vineyard back to the cellar to stomp the recently picked Fernão Pires and feel their berries, seeds and stem to massage our feet!

And why Fernão Pires? Because it is the most planted white variety in Portugal and the most expressive in Tejo wine region. It is a very flexible variety allowing to make diverse styles of wine, from single varietal or “blend” to sparkling wines, late harvest wines or spirits.

Fernão Pires is a very aromatic variety, fruity and of average acidity. It works well on its own but above all, it likes company. Here in the Tejo, Arinto is the most common combination, due to its freshness and firm acidity.

Among the many Ribatejo restaurants, the choice for lunch was for Escaroupim.

I was surrendered to this place, first by its surroundings – right by the river and surrounded by willow trees – then by the food: fish soup, Magusto with roasted cod and buffet of desserts paired with several wines of the region. This was the menu of the day that got me wishing to go back there soon!

And what does it really feel like doing after a morning of work and such a rich lunch? A relaxing boat trip through Tejo! But not for that Tejo of the red bridge overlooking the Tower of Belém I told you before, this is another Tejo, quieter, greener, with more fauna around and incredibly beautiful 🙂

I embarked on the Avieiros route, lulled by the slow pace of the boat that took us from Escaroupim to Valada under a warm sun and a river breeze.

I discovered another side of the Tagus that day. I loved it and I recommend you to do the same!

©CVR Tejo, by Gonçalo Villaverde