There’s something beautiful about looking at grapevines. Is it the bright green color, is it the optimism of the warm sunny weather? I’m not sure, but I always seem to be drawn to them. That’s why I didn’t think twice about accepting Cátia’s invitation to visit Ribafreixo wine estate.
Ribafreixo is tucked away in Alentejo, considered by many the best wine region of Portugal. I think it comes down to preferences. But if we could compare the wine to the land the description would be: warm, heavy and lingering.
Stepping out of the car, on the late May morning I could already feel the heat building up.
There were some sheep eating calmly, the grapevines and olive trees were bathing in the sun – an ideal Alentejo setting. I had the feeling I could just sit on the terrace of Ribafreixo and enjoy the serene scenery through the whole day.
But a great wine tour of the estate was waiting for us.
A Cashmere smooth Aperitif
First, we were served an aperitif – the rosé Pato Frio Cashmere, just the refreshing and smooth drink we needed after a 2-hour drive from Lisbon. It was served in the restaurant just before it opened its doors to the public. Another terrace overlooking the vineyards was a pleasant surprise. The subtlety of wine mixed with the view of the grapevines was creating a sense of calmness.
Then we were presented with the different wine lines that Ribafreixo produces – Pato Frio, Gáudio, Barrancoa and Connections. Antão Vaz grape variety which is unique to Vidigueira region in Alentejo is used in three wines Pato Frio Antão Vaz, Pato Frio Grande Escolha and the blend Pato Frio Selecção, that sets them apart from other Alentejan producers. So you’ll be tasting something unique and local.
The next stop of the tour was at the vineyard. I had the feeling I can never get my eyes full of its rustic, but mesmerizing beauty. We also learned something important for the vegans out there – the wines are 100% certifies vegan. We then saw the winemaking facilities – what made an impression on me, was that they use state of the art modern technology.
The Surprising Wine Experience
The most curious part – the wine tasting was slowly approaching. You know the times when people try to innovate something that works totally fine and they fail? This is what most of the wine tasting group thought – because we were going to to do a White wine pairing with local cheeses. I saw the skepticism on the faces of everyone. Even on mine, I guess.
But after pairing the three white wines with the three cheeses, there was no place for a doubt – the sommelier made unusual, but excellent choices. Recommendable.
The best part followed – lunch with local food. The Alentejans don’t joke when it comes to food and wine, Ribafreixo neither.
The young chef Catarina Parreira elaborated a delicious 3-course menu for us. The couvert was composed of traditional Alentejan petiscos (the Portuguese variation of tapas) – chorizo, cheese, empanadas, marinated mushrooms, and peppers. There was a traditional Alentejan fish soup for a starter that was surprisingly delicious (not a fan of soups). The main course was one of my favorite dishes ever – lamb chops. But it was not after the dessert I realized I was in heaven – a variety of egg-based desserts, my preferred one being encharcada (the one that looks like scrambled eggs). They were so tasty, served with Ribafreixo liquorous wine of the Gáudio series.
I couldn’t recommend more Ribafreixo winery – the mix of the old winemaking traditions with new technology, the concern with the land, the delicious food, and knowledgeable staff make it worth the visit when you’re in Portugal.
Do you want to include Ribafreixo in a meaningful way in your Portugal itinerary, let me plan your trip then?