A Golden Tale of Summer
Ah, Vargellas in the summer! A feast for all the senses. To us, it’s the best spot on earth to indulge in one of life’s most simple, yet greatest pleasures: al fresco dining. The sun is shining, the views are breathtaking, and lunch awaits!
All around us, the valley’s dramatic plateaus are now a vibrant green. The vines are in full leaf, and the grapes are starting to swell. But it is not the produce of these vines that interests us for this tale. Instead, we would like to introduce you to another delicious liquid produced on the estate: Quinta de Vargellas Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
A Drizzle Of History
Described by Homer as ‘liquid gold’, olive oil has been treasured by the people of the Mediterranean for thousands of years. Here in the Douro valley, olive trees have been a feature of the landscape for centuries, and the oil they produce is rightly prized as amongst the finest in Portugal. We have 10 hectares of traditional Portuguese olive trees at Vargellas, many of them over 100 years old. From here on the terrace, they can be seen dotted all around the estate, adding another delightful shade of green to the vista.
It is often the case that the conditions which produce the greatest wines are also those which create the finest olive oils. That’s why many of the world’s most famous wine regions, from Tuscany to California, and from Provence to the Western Cape, are equally famous for olive oil. Indeed, each region produces its own distinctive oils, infl uenced by climate and soil, as well as harvesting and processing techniques. In our case, the mountainous nature of the Douro valley protects us from humid Atlantic winds, giving us a hot, dry climate which results in an oil of great depth and concentration.
An Extra Special Olive Oil
The equivalent of vintage port in the olive oil world is ‘extra virgin’. Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives and is the most prized of all olive oils, valued for its perfect balance in terms of flavour, aroma, colour and acidity.
Our own Quinta de Vargellas Extra Virgin Olive Oil is famed for its fragrance, purity and high content of vitamins and nutrients. It has a deep, greenish-yellow colour with a grassy aroma and a wonderful, lingering freshness.
Working With Nature
To achieve the highest purity of oil, we farm our olive trees in a hands-off manner, with as little human intervention as possible. No chemical fertilisers or pesticides are used, much to the delight of the olive fly and other olive-loving wildlife!
Speed Is Of The Essence
The plump, ripe olives are harvested by hand in November. To maintain maximum flavour and freshness, they are picked and milled on the same day. Next follows cold pressing, which preserves the natural flavour and minimises the acidity. After a final purification process, the liquid gold is ready to bottle.
Back To Lunch
Our olive oil is a key ingredient in today’s lunch. As is another of our famed summer ingredients: Chip Dry White Port.
Taylor’s was the first port wine house to produce a dry white Port back in 1934. It’s produced from classic white grapes such as Malvasia Fina, and grown at the cooler, higher elevations of the valley.
The fresh, dry finish is achieved by allowing fermentation to continue for longer than other Port wines, so less of the natural sweetness remains when the fortifying spirit is added.
Chip And Tonic Please
What better way to start today’s lunch than with our favourite summer aperitif, Chip Dry and tonic? In this warm weather, we mix one third Chip Dry white Port to two thirds Indian tonic, topped up with ice and a generous sprig of mint. It really is a delicious, refreshing alternative to a G&T or Pimms.
As for lunch itself, we will be enjoying a traditional Vargellas meal prepared by our wonderful cook, Adulcínia. To start, smoked salmon rosettes with mango and mozzarella. Followed by baked hake in a cream and Chip Dry White Port sauce, served with new potatoes, and a green salad simply dressed with lemon juice and, of course, our own Quinta de Vargellas Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Almond Cake Or Chocolate Mousse?
Oh decisions, decisions! Whichever dessert we choose, we know it will be perfectly complemented by a glass of our lightly chilled 10 Year Old Tawny Port, with its delicate woody notes and mellow fruit aroma.To round off our meal? Well, it seems only right to pay tribute to the view by enjoying the produce of this beautiful estate. So, here’s to a glass of lush, fruity Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port. Cheers!