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NEW: AMA - with authors Simon J Woolf and Ryan Opaz, Monday 15th March, 1-2pm

Due to popular demand, we’re absolutely delighted to be hosting authors Simon J Woolf and Ryan Opaz here on The Community for an Ask Me Anything event!

NEW: AMA - with authors Simon J Woolf and Ryan Opaz, Monday 15th March, 1-2pm

@simonjwoolf and Ryan Opaz answer your questions on Portuguese wine, and why they feel it’s one of Europe’s most exciting and dynamic wine lands right now.

As their crowdfunding campaign for the forthcoming book “Foot Trodden - Portugal and the wines that time forgot” draws to a close, Simon & Ryan join us to answer your questions about the book - and why they decided to focus on Portugal.

The pair have travelled Portugal from north to south over the last decade, with Ryan resident in Porto since 2013. Their knowledge extends from the classic regions such as Douro, Vinho Verde or Dao to some of Portugal’s more fascinating curiosities such as the eternally youthful wines of Colares, the clay pot (talha) tradition in Alentejo or the Medieval wine from Tejo that has its origins in the local Cistercian monastery.

Simon and Ryan have a particular penchant for Portugal’s new and upcoming winemakers, and for its fast-developing organic and natural wine scene.

You can pre-order ‘Foot Trodden’ and contribute to their kickstarter campaign here:

How to take part in this event

Please send us your questions in advance, by replying to this topic - or just log in to the Community before 1pm on Monday 15th March and there’ll be a LIVE FROM 1PM: AMA with authors Simon J Woolf and Ryan Opaz ’ topic where the event will take place and where you can post your questions live. The chat will be in written format - like a regular topic here.

We hope you can make it along! Who’s planning on joining us?

  • I’ll be there!
  • I can’t make it, but I’ll send over a question in advance.

0 voters

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I’m genuinely quite excited for this. I have a real fascination with Alentejo .
That aside, I would like to ask firstly, how did you two meet and decide to embark on this wine book adventure together?
Secondly, we hear stories written quite often about small Portuguese producers who stumbled across deserted and abandoned old vines and vineyards bringing them back to life .
Are there an abundance of abandoned vineyards just waiting for discovery or is this a ploy to make us purchase more wines from these types of producers?
Thirdly, from all of your research and visits, which were your favourite producers to visit and why?
Thank you

EDIT: Can I just add, if the imagery in the book is anywhere near as beautiful as this picture I’ll be gifting the book also :joy:

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A lot of the Portuguese red wine I can pick up locally (I live in “little portugal”) is very heavily oaked Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro and Tinta Roriz blends regardless of where the wine is from. Outside the “local shops for local people” I am starting to see more unoaked/single varietals.

How common is this shift towards less oak, single varietals and more regional characteristics, and how much is this embraced by locals and how much of it is for (for want of a better description) “people like us”?

Possibly is this actually a question on labelling, and these wines are actually also there in my local Portugese shops, but the labelling of them doesn’t make them clear/differentiate them? Is there something I should be looking for if I am after (for example) a varietal Jaen from the Dao rather than a (still delicious) traditional Portuguese big red blend? I find the whites, particularly from Vinho Verde labels far more clearly in terms of whether they’re a blend or a varietal and what’s in them, and thus find myself being far more adventurous with them as a result.

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While not wanting to take over all the questions (this is a lie, I want to take over and ask all the questions!). I part asked this when you came over onto the thread about your kickstarter, but sidetracked myself with the question on an Azores chapter.

I love Madeira, both the place and the fortified wine. I also love (non-fortified) wine from volcanic islands. Is it worth my while exploring non-fortified wine from Madeira? The only one I’ve had was lack-lustre at best. If it is worth an investigate, where should I start?

Ultra-nerdy Madeira question (which this probably isn’t the right place for, and feel free not to answer! Although possibly the second part is more answerable?): They’ve changed (admittedly not recently) what they use to fortify Madeira from locally produced rum to grape spirit from Spain. What, if any, impact has this had on the flavour profile of Madeira? Are there any Boutique-y Madeira’s still using local rum? Are there any Boutique-y Madeira’s full stop?

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If you had to pick a white and a red from the current TWS line-up, what would they be? … and why?

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Hello Simon and Ryan,

Thank you for giving up your time to answer our questions! :slight_smile:

Mine is this: my preferred style of reds in general is cool-climate style, with med/high acidity which displays some savoury/herbaceous characters. Although I’ve been a bit neglectful of Portuguese wines of late, I have thoroughly enjoyed in the past reds such as Baga from Niepoort and Filipa Pato, and Jaen from Quinta das Maias (I also love it in its Mencía manifestation across the border). I also enjoyed Niepoort’s red Field blend ‘Drink Me’ Tinto, which is slightly heavier than the previous two, but still retained a sort of freshness I love in my reds.

Are there any other reds of this style you could recommend? If so, which producers should I look out for?

Thanks very much :grinning:

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Just giving this topic a bump, if you wanted to send in any other questions you have before this event next Monday. :slight_smile:

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I’d love to drink more Portuguese wines, and I’m sure you guys know plenty of special ones … the issue is, it would be almost impossible for me to actually buy those particular wines as they are probably not available to me (either not imported, or if they are, in small quantities and very expensive, and even so, possibly stocked by several different importers)

Question: What might Portugal (as a country) and Portuguese producers, do to change this? Is it their responsibility to ‘push’, or should importers like TWS ‘pull’ more?

More controversial follow-up: Should they? Or should we all be made to feel FOMO and to travel to Portugal to experience them instead?

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I’ve been thinking about this a bit more (now that you’ve got me started again) …

I guess the question I’m trying to get at with the second question is:

Some wines can be great wherever they are drunk (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, …) and do not necessarily improve by drinking them in-situ - in the region where they are produced (though I accept drinking at the winery itself is always special)

On the other hand, there are wines that can be more truly appreciated in the region/area they are produced (Provence Rosé, Retsina, …) because their context is arguably more specific.

Where does Portugal figure in this, or at least a more traditional, artisanal wine from Portugal? And is it maybe different for different wines (e.g. Vinho Verde vs Madeira)?

There … I got that out of my system :slight_smile:

4 Likes

Hello!

A couple of questions, if there’s time.

On a visit to Oporto a few years ago, I was amazed by the quantity and huge stock of wines in small, independent wine shops, almost every one a local or at least Portuguese wine. However, there seemed to be few customers apart from some tourists - is wine drinking on the wane in Portugal? Is this why some vineyards have ended up being abandoned?

Considering the huge number of indigenous grape varieties grown in Portugal, which would you say has been ‘under the radar’ so far and we’ll see more of in the future?

Thank-you!

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Argh! Having derailed the questions by going far to nerdy far too soon, I’m now being dragging into a meeting and probably won’t make it :frowning:

Thank you Simon and Ryan for joining us, I’ll catch up later!

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I’m interested to know if there is an increasing move to use traditional amphorae/ Queveri type vessels for fermentation/ storage ?

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Just a reminder that this event will start in 10 minutes! Please check back here at 1pm, when authors Simon J Woolf and Ryan Opaz will be online to answer your questions. :slight_smile:

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Good question. Without any live tastings to try the WS offerings I am sure the sales of Portuguese wines are held back because the varietals are relatively unknown. So if our two Experts could answer this it would be very useful.

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Hello Community and welcome to this AMA with authors @simonjwoolf and Ryan Opaz!

As their crowdfunding campaign for the forthcoming book “Foot Trodden - Portugal and the wines that time forgot” draws to a close, Simon & Ryan join us to answer your questions about the book - and why they decided to focus on Portugal.

You can contribute to their Kickstarter campaign using the link below:

Thank you all for your advance questions - Simon and Ryan are online so let’s get started!

1 Like

Hi everyone, we’ll do our best to answer all your questions so far. SOme great ones here!

And thank you to everyone who already supported our Kickstarter campaign. Without you guys, this book would simply not happen.

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@Leah asks:

How did you two meet and decide to embark on this wine book adventure together?

SIMON - We know each other from the wine communicators conference (EWBC / DWCC) that Ryan organised between 2008 - 2015. We became friends a year or two before Ryan and his wife moved to Porto (in 2013), and he kind of reeled me in - I think he knew he could get me turned onto Portugal. As a wine geek who loves the less familiar wine styles, old traditions, rare indigenous grape varieties, how could I not love it?

While we were researching and travelling for the first book (Amber Revolution), we talked a lot about Portugal’s problem in getting the recognition it deserves as a dynamic wine country. Somehow along the way, via a few very late-night discussions, we hit on the idea of doing a book that would try to fill the gap - and penetrate the soul of Portuguese wine, make it accessible and get other wine fans excited about it.

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I think it would be useful to us in the UK to know which wines from Portugal that are easily available here would you recommend?

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@Leah: We hear stories written quite often about small Portuguese producers who stumbled across deserted and abandoned old vines and vineyards bringing them back to life. Are there an abundance of abandoned vineyards just waiting for discovery or is this a ploy to make us purchase more wines from these types of producers?

SIMON - there really is an abundance of abandoned vineyards, sad to say. If you drive around the foothills of the Serra da Estrela sub-region in Dão, they are everywhere. In the last decade there’s been a rebirth of interest in reviving some of these plots - people like Antonio Madeira and Filipa Pato spring to mind. Both work pretty much exclusively with old plots that they’ve painstakingly discovered, rented or bought and then brought back into active service.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Portugal during much of the 20th century was dominated by government-run cooperative wineries. As people found they were making less and less money from old plots that didn’t yield many grapes, a lot just gave up. Also there was a significant population drain in Portugal, with much of the younger generation either moving to the cities or even leaving Portugal altogether. All that contributed to old vineyards being abandoned.

RYAN: Also I would add, there is a culture here where people are literally tied to the land and to sell a piece of land is not something done lightly. Even if the land could be used for other purposes, a person might not sell it until they have no other choice. This is the reason behind a lot of abandoned architecture in the cities and vineyard plots in the country. Sometimes I’ll see a beautiful but obviously abandoned vineyard in say the Douro, and when I ask a local who owns it, the answer is either “I don’t know…” or “João…but he doesn’t need the money…” At times this is quite poetic, but others quite sad.

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This question has been asked already, reply is coming up!