Herdade Paço do Conde, a genuine Alentejo estate Convento do Paraíso, the Algarve reconquered

Azores Wines, Strange Encounters

Text Ilkka Sirén

I like to travel. Who doesn’t, right? But I don’t like flying and I think spending time at airports is inhuman. Yet it’s something we have to endure. Arriving to a destination, though. That’s magical. Discovering new things is like fuel for me. It’s what makes this whole weird life of ours interesting.

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Waiting for my flight at Frankfurt Airport – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

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Vineyards in Wagram, Austria – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

I recently traveled to Austria to discover some of the best white wines in the world; Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. Little did I know I was about to discover something completely different aswell. To my surprise a Portuguese friend of mine was also in Austria during my stay there. The plan was to visit some Austrian wine regions like Wagram which is known for its Grüner and Roter Veltliner wines but also for the region’s deep loess soils.

After day one we gathered in the hotel lobby to enjoy a few glasses of wine with the group. That’s when things got interesting. Despite one, no, two dreadful hotel pizzas that were passed around the table like they were made of uranium. There was a wine that turned the night upside down.

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Verdelho O Original by: António Maçanita 2014 – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

My friend pulled out a bottle of Verdelho O Original by: Antonio Maçanita 2014 from the Azores. Named “Original” because apparently people have a tendency to confuse Verdelho, Verdejo and Gouveio. And the Verdelho from the Azores is the OG one. How was the wine? Extremely drinkable. I think it took me about 10 seconds to finish my first glass. The second glass went down much faster. It had this particular ripeness to it but with a good acidity to back it up. Slightly viscous with a salty kick. I suspect that it might have had some skin contact but either way it had shoulders. Definitely got me even more interested about the Azores.

This group of islands is located over 1,000 kilometers west of continental Portugal literally in the middle of nowhere. A place so isolated and undiscovered by most people that even Captain Ahab would go “thanks, but no thanks”. The truth is that I don’t even know the truth. Unfortunately I have never been there. But the rumour is that the islands of Azores are beyond spectacular. An increasingly rare piece of paradise. Not well-known for their wines <yet> by any stretch of the word but apparently something is cooking over there that just might bring the Azores on the wine map with a bang. Looking forward to it and I really need to make visiting the Azores my top priority.

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About Ilkka Sirén
Wine Writer - Blend | All About Wine
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