Tag Archives: Portugal

EU Ambassador to London

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, announces the appointment of Mr. João Vale de Almeida, 62, as the first Head of the future EU Delegation to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This has been duly notified to the United Kingdom. Mr. Vale de Almeida will take up his new functions on 1 February 2020.

As of that date, the United Kingdom will be a third country and as a consequence, the representation of the Union will be ensured by an EU Delegation.

João Vale de Almeida is a senior European Union diplomat, who served as EU Ambassador to the United Nations from 2015 to 2019, and previously as the first EU Ambassador to the United States of America, from 2010 to 2014.

Between 2004 and 2009, Vale de Almeida was the Head of Cabinet (Chief of staff and main adviser) for the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. He accompanied President Barroso in all European Council meetings and ensured coordination with the private offices of Heads of State and Government in all 28 Member States of the EU. He was also the President’s Personal Representative for the negotiations on the Treaty of Lisbon and acted as his personal representative (sherpa) for G8 and G20 summits.

Cartuxa: seven steps to heaven

For a traveller who wishes to come in touch with the stardom of the universe of  Portuguese wines, Cartuxa is a must – a well-established name in Europe and abroad, it produces the most exquisite brands in white and red, however it is the red of Cartuxa, which is listed globally among the best 50 wines, and among most expensive in Portugal. The recent average price for Cartuxa Pera Manca Tinto hits €300, and in spite of being a luxury item, it is sought after. Some wine ‘pilgrims‘ come from the other continents to the winery to acquire a bottle.

Enchantment of  Cartuxa starts with its legend in the visitor centre is in the old refectory of the former retreat of the Jesuit Brothers who taught at Evora University in the XVI-XVII centuries. During the dramatic moment of the Jesuits eviction in 1759 by order of Prime Minister Pombal, the property was taken over by the State, and already by 1776  it was recorded as operating a significant wine-press, taking grapes from across the region. Adega Cartuxa was purchased by the Eugenio de Almeida family in the XIX century, living through evolution over the years, and  preserving its outstanding architectural and historic integrity.

Cartuxa

Cartuxa is generously sharing with the visitors the savoir-faire of art of wine production, presenting the entire cycle from grapes collection to solid cellars, and tasting. Image: February 2018, Alentejo, Portugal

Pêra-Manca is the label reserved for Eugénio de Almeida Foundation’s most exceptional wines.
The whites are a blend of Antão Vaz and Arinto grape varieties producing wines with a vivid citrus colour and a fruity, persistent, delicate and complex aroma. On the palate they are soft, dry, complex and balanced.

Pêra-Manca

Cartuxa, Pêra-Manca is the label reserved for Eugénio de Almeida Foundation’s most exceptional wines. Image: February 2018, Alentejo, Portugal

The charms of contemporary wine production is deeply rooted in  Cartuxa Monastery built for the Carthusian Order in XVI century by Archbishop Teotonio. The monument is close to Évora, where the sound of Monastery bell is heard, especially when it tolls at midnight, contributing to  the World Heritage museum-city ensemble. Today, the  Cartuxa de Santa Maria Scala Coeli is appreciated as part of a larger Evora’s artistic and spiritual treasures concert. But the contemporary perfection of the convent’s edifice was not always the case…

It was only in the mid-XX century the heir of the property, Vasco Maria, Earl of Vil’alva decided to restore the monastery and return it to the Order of Saint Bruno. In 1960 the Carthusian Monks entered the monastery at the invitation of the Foundation, whose initiator completely rebuilt and restored the convent. Nowadays the Convento de Santa Maria Scala Coeli or Cartuxa de Évora, property of the da Eugénio de Almeida Foundation, is a place of prayer of contemplation, the only presence of Carthusian Monks in Portugal.

From 1960 the Carthusian life was reborn and revived at Santa Maria Scala Coeli, open to all who wished to escape urban noise, and share monastic lifestyle.

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Cartuxa Winery is neighbouring Monastery, sharing a bucolic atmosphere inviting to serenity of ‘in vino veritas’. Image: February 2018 Alentejo, Portugal

Cartuxa winery is generously sharing with the visitors the savoir-faire of art of wine production, presenting the entire cycle from grapes collection to solid cellars with barrels, and, of course, the tasting. The explanations of the skilled guides along the tour contribute to understanding of wine sensations, however it is the tasting that is crowning the experience. The Foundation’s wines and olive oils, are abundant there to purchase in a cellar shop, with the exemption of the star of the show Cartuxa Pera Manca Tinto (€200 at spot) which can be acquired as one (!) bottle per group to enjoy during tasting.

Cartuxa

Cartuxa: explanations of wine production by skilled guides contribute to understanding of wine sensations, however it is the tasing that is crowning the experience. Image: February 2018, Alentejo, Portugal.

Scala Coeli, which means in Latin “stairway to Heaven”, takes its name from the Santa Maria Scala Coeli Monastery, more usually known as Cartuxa Monastery, a site where Carthusian monks live in silence and prayer.  Produced from the best blends of each year grape varieties, it was issued for the first time in 2008 as Vinho regional Alentejano, Alvarinho grape.  Traditionally, underlining the connection to Monastery, from which the name originates, the label depicts the steps  to Heaven (see below).

Cartuxa

Scala Coeli (Latin “stairway to Heaven”), originates from the Santa Maria Scala Coeli Monastery, more usually known as Cartuxa Monastery,

Adega Cartuxa – the old cellars at Quinta de Valbom are nowadays used to age the wines produced by the  Eugénio de Almeida Foundation. The success of its winemaking venture enables the Foundation to fund its charitable activities in the region.

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Cartuxa Scala Coeli produced from the best blends of each year of international grape varieties, it was issued for the first time in 2008. Vinho regional Alentejano, Alvarinho grape, Portugal, February 2018

The Eugénio de Almeida Foundation is a privately-owned charity, based in the city of Évora. Its statutory aims are cultural, educational, social and spiritual, focussed on enhancing human achievement and overall development of the region of Évora. Bequeathed by Vasco Maria Eugénio de Almeida, its statutes date 12 August, 1963.

The Foundation meets the aims of its Statutes by creating its own initiatives, exclusively or in partnership, while also supporting projects from other private or public organisations whose intentions meet the charity’s criteria.

In order to carry out its Mission, the Foundation works closely with both Portuguese and international partners.  The increasing involvement of the Foundation within the community has resulted in a plethora of projects noted for their excellence, innovation and quality. Continuing the Alentejo age-old connection with wine, the Foundation has a longstanding history of winegrowing.

However, those who have no opportunity to visit the Winery, and follow the guided tours, can grasp a chance to enjoy Cartuxa finest wines in Restaurante Cartuxa Wine & Flavours located in the historic centre of Évora, in the Eugénio de Almeida Forum, next to the city’s iconic Roman Temple and close by the Cathedral, Museum and Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval.  The restaurant menu is inspired by Mediterranean cuisine where flavours of the Alentejo. Under the direction of chef Bouazza, old family recipes are recreated from seasonal, regionally sourced produce, taking great care to preserve traditional flavours. The restaurant wine list suggests some of the best ALentejo Wines to accompany the meal.

Cartuxa Wine Tourism centre is based at Quinta de Valbom,  just a couple of kilometers from the centre of the World Heritage city of Evora, next to the Cartuxa Monastery from which its name originates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Majesty ‘Sobroso’

Majestic in its spacious grandeur Herdade do Sobroso stikes with its royal style, and natural splendor, offering an entire palette of inspirations: from exiting safari in the wild to relaxing afternoons at Estate with panoramic belle vue next to a swimming pool;  from classic Alentejo cuisine to tastings of modern and sophisticated wines from  its immense property. Reflecting the soul of Alentejo region, Sobroso is a must for a traveller, looking  for a genuine encounter with Portugal’ boundless universe.

Herdade do Sobroso

Herdade do Sobroso, Alentejo, Portugal, February 2018

A traveller finds a warm welcome in the hotel and the restaurant of the Estate, with skilled staff, making you feel like a royalty in spacious interiors, which got second life two decades ago with new ownership. In 2001 the property was acquired by an architect Antonio Ginestal Machado, who realised his ambition to transform the abandoned lands into a modern project assembling different faces of Alentejo :  wilderness and culture – cork-oak forest and vineyards, receiving guests in the Estate to share the fascination with the beauty of the place, and excellence of its wine and food, giving birth to Sobroso legend.

Hotel Herdade do Sobroso, Alentejo, Portugal

Herdade do Sobroso, Alentejo, Portugal, February 2018

As stylish as Estate, Sobroso wines represent refined taste of a young generation of producers. Inspired by Alentejo, they pay a greatest attention to creation of a special  compositions, unique in its relation to the region, terroir,  and charm of the Estate itself.

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The creativity in reflection of Alentejo unique beauty met utmost warm welcome among the wine experts – in spite of being a newcomer at competitive European wine market, Herdade do Sobroso received high esteem of the professionals awarded with medals of excellence. Aged for 18 month in French oak barrels,  Sobroso Reserva 2014 enchants with hints of wild berries, dark plum, and vanilla,  pleasing the eye with deep dark hue, and taste with long-lasting elegant finish.

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“Our wines are best match for classic Portuguese food, especially Alentejo cuisine”, – says oenologist Filipe Teixeira Pinto, explaining a concept of his compositions. A new generation of wine creators, he trotted the globe, before settling in the Estate in 2002, and since then devoting his skills and talent to Sobroso.  Following his advice the distinct flavour of  Bacalhau  from Senhora Josefa’s cuisine accompanied by white Herdade do Sobroso Cellar Selection 2016 makes an excellent lunch or dinner choice. With clear citrus colour, and aroma reminiscent of florals and tropical fruit, it impresses with freshness and intensity,  spelling out the Sobroso terroir.

Herdade do Sobroso cuisine

Herdade do Sobroso cuisine: classic Bacalhau accompanied by wines from Estate. 18 February 2018.

Panoramic views from Estate captures imagination by its infinity, and celestial blue light – there are hardly any rains in Alentejo,  making it an ideal destination for a journey any season. Located in the district of VidigueiraHerdade do Sobroso is bordered by the Mendro mountain range to the north, Guadiana River to the east, and to the south by vast plain stretching beyond the horizon (Pictured).

Herdade do Sobroso belle vue

Herdade do Sobroso belle vue,  Alentejo, Portugal, 18 February 2018

Tasting with the creator – oenologist Filipe Teixeira Pinto – in winery of Herdade do Sobroso adds a personal touch to the encounter with the Estate. Every wine label is a new chapter in a narrative of Sobroso: awaited by connoisseurs, and appreciated by public, searching for new experiences, and sophistication, representing Portuguese state of the art.

 

 

 

 

Malhadinha Nova enchanting universe

There is no need to trot the globe to find an exquisite experience of nature, luxury, adventure and sophistication, meeting sunrise in a safari lodge next to turquoise shades of water. In the heart of Alentejo region just a couple of hours of driving from Lisbon or Algarve,  Malhadinha Nova Country House & Spa offers its charming universe and the savoir faire.

Malhadinha Nova

Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal: sunrise, 10 February 2018

Malhadinha Nova will surprise you with a mixture of wildness, and comfort, romanticism and roughness in an eclectic style competing with the best lodges of African Sahel,  but without the dangerous of the latter. In the Estate the traveller will enjoy modern design interiors with exotic touch, and delicious fresh food and wine, making any meals of a day a magic ritual, full of sensations.

Malhadinha Nova estate

Malhadinha Nova estate, Alentejo, Portugal: breakfast, 10 February 2018

The Estate offers you the various ways to spend your day: from leisurely reading a book in a cosy rattan armchair next to the swimming pool, to horse riding, or a safari adventure, discovering landscapes around the farm in Alentejo savannah-like countryside.

Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal

Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal: Safari to cork-oak forest, 10 February 2018

The Alentejo scenery, competing in allure with the finest views of African Sahel is majestic. With its vast spaces, sometimes animated by a population of black Iberian pigs, passing for wild warthogs from afar. The ancient inhabitants of the Peninsula, they trace their roots to the Neolithic times, and today add the vivid authentic touch to stillness of Alentejo savannah-like topography.

Image: Alentejo landscape, Portugal

Image: Alentejo landscape, Portugal. Black Iberian pig. 10 February 2018

The picturesque corners of Malhadinha Nova vast area, especially a still surface of the pond, make you think about wild natural reserve, but with the advantage of the contemplation of the dark waters without fear of a crocodile attack:) Those who enjoy fishing should definitely make a pause there attempting to get their big catch of a bass or two.

Malhadinha Nova

Image: Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal. Pond. 10 February 2018

The vast areas of Malhadinha Nova, including abandoned arable land, received the second life with the new owners of the Estate, who have been investing their talent and passion for two decades into the transformation, which made the stunning metamorphosis possible. The vineyards, stretching to the horizon, constitute of carefully selected sorts of grapes, in the first ranks  Touriga Nacional, Aragonês, Alicante Bouschet, forming the Terroir of Malhadinha Nova in a distinctive way. The wine-tasting, wine lessons, and simply guided tours in the Cave imprint your stay, making one feel closer to the soul of Alentejo terracotta lands.

Malhadinha Nova

Image: Malhadinha Nova Estate Winery, guided tour in Cave. 10 February 2018

 Touriga Nacional da Peceguina 2015  enjoys special attention for presenting the essence of Alentejo wine grape, its dynamic power and energy, with dark fruit sensations engaging with floral elegance of blackberries and blueberries shades. A complexity unfolds in layers with slight floral hint of violet, and tones of dark chocolate along with the spices and a slight toast of a barrel. However the charm of wines goes beyond the taste and quality due to a personal imprint of the family, baptizing each creation with a name of their own child, and with his drawing on the etiquette instead of a traditional Estate image.

Touriga Nacional da Peceguina 2015

Touriga Nacional da Peceguina 2015 Red Wine, Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal

The restaurant is waiting for visitors, ascending from the Cave, welcoming with the composition of wines and food, rooted in local traditions of Alentejo, but modernized and fashioned to contemporary taste. It offers an excellent opportunity to have a dinner with the gems in whites as harmonious and emblematic as Malhadinha Nova 2016,  touched by light aromas of fresh fruit; or intense  Monte da Peceguina 2016 reminiscent of tropical fruit, and an ideal match to the image of the Estate.

Image: Malhadinha Nova Estate, restaurant. 10 February 2018

Image: Malhadinha Nova Estate Winery, restaurant. 10 February 2018

In Portugal the recipes of cooking cod are impossible to count, being a great classic of a menu they never sieze to amaze, however Malhadinha Nova chefs offer more than an excellence of taste, but an esthetic performance, the interaction between looks, sensations and smells. The excellence is not a coincidence,  but a fruit of a synergy of a consulting Michelin Star chef Joachim Koerper, the resident chef Bruno Antunes, and a the rigorous guardian of Alejento traditions chef Vitalina Santos. Originating from the most ‘most French‘ city of Germany’–  the Baroque Saarbrucken Joachim Koerper brings the international dimension to rich and colorful tradition of Alentejo cuisine.

Malhadinha Nova Estate restaurant

Image: Malhadinha Nova restaurant: Codfish with organic vegetables from Estate greenhouses. 9 February 2018

Malhadinha Nova Estate terrace is a magnet, but also an ideal place to take a break, reflecting upon the potential next steps: Horse riding? A photography lesson? Or an hour of Spa with wine massage?..

Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal

Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal. Terrace, 10 February 2018

The terrace of the mason is a lovely place to spent any moment, but especially in the late afternoon. After the impressions of a long and charged with sensations day, when with a cup of a black coffee from ivory porcelain a traveller can have a look at gallery of images in the camera, posting some to share with friends before heading to the bar to continue the tasting of wines. And exchanging impressions with the guests before moving back to the restaurant for fine dining, anticipating the fantasy of the chefs…

Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal

Image: Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal. A cup of coffee at terrace. 10 February 2018

 

Evora’s mysterious beauty

The ruins of the Roman temple are the most emblematic place to begin the stroll along the ancient streets of Evora – a camertone to give the right modality to a traveller to prepare his heart to meet the mysterious beauty of the ancient city. However apart of the Roman ruins there is nothing pompous in kissed by sun place, startling in a variety of styles, mixture of epoques,  and an incredible lightness of atmosphere.

Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Évora streets, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

While strolling from the Roman temple to the central square along the tiny streets one can discover the exposition of the variety of objects made of… cork! A cork to wear, a cork to carry around: bags, shoes, aprons, – all  are made of wooden bark, changing our perception of what can be done from a tree. At heart of the Alentejo region – the world producer of cork for wine bottles – Evorians surprise with their fantasy in exploring the potential of a plant. The stylish design for those who wish to stand out in a crowd – a soft and eco friendly material, cork definitely wins the sympathies of those who have an ambition to be nature and animal friendly according to the contemporary ideals.

Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Cork oak accessories. Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

The stroll along the charming streets with toursitic shops trading cork leads to the major city temple, located of the highest hill and crowing the old town of Evora.

Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Cathedral of Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

The splendor of the Cathedral Sé de Évora is breathtaking.  Declared a UNESCO World Heritage, it attracts as magnet the flows of pilgrims – the lovers spiritual art and architecture. The gilded interiors strike with their majestic appearances, making one daydream, watching the long beams of sun coming from above. The opulent decorations  like an orchestra symphony are celebrating the glory of world’s famous explorer Vasco da Gama, who is believed to get the blessing for the flags for his fleet in the Cathedral.

Cathedral, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Cathedral, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

While leaving the Cathedral, and stepping into Evora’s sunshine, one can notice a stream of young people: the true and devoted pilgrimage to one of the city major attractions – Capela dos Ossos – the mysterious Chapel of Bones.

Cathedral, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

A view from threshold of Cathedral, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

At most popular among young audience Capela dos Ossos does not make a heavy impression on a visitor thanks to the sunshine from the windows, and quite a dense crowd armed with smartphones and cameras, leaving hardly any space for contemplation on ‘sic transit gloria mundi’ – the creators of the chapel had in mind. The multitudes of bones, covering the walls and pillars, and even two mummies exposed in the space are reminiscent of the decoration of a theatre play, a historic drama, or even a Hollywood move setting. Reportedly many fans of thrillers have the Chapel in mind as an ideal location to celebrate Halloween – a theatrical way of relating to dead with a good dose of humor.

Chapel of Bones, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Chapel of Bones, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Next to the Chapel’s extravagant decorum the expression of faces of the visitors is not to be missed. Is the message of the Franciscan monks well delivered four centuries after? If judging by the numbers of photographs taken, one can be definite about the success of the project, triumphant in its longevity and capacity to strike imagination. Today with the significant students population of the reputable University of Evora, the Chapel is never to be short of visitors.

Chapel of Bones, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Chapel of Bones, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

“Memento mori” images are swiftly disappearing in day light next to the marble fountain at Giraldo Square, where inevitably the traveller finds himself, perambulating in the vicinity of the old town. A special place for the inhabitants of Evora honoring Fearless Geraldo Geraldes (or Giraldo Sem Pavor), the hero-liberator of the city from the of Moorish rule in 1167.  The monumental fountain is a centre of the square and even more so of  folk tales, narrating that the King Philip III of Spain thought that it was worthy of being coronated for its outstanding beauty. But it is not only old art, that inspires – next to the glorious fountain there is a modern sculpture to admire, a piece of pink marble tailored in a rough way following the aesthetics concepts of today, and contrasting with the ancient way of working with the stone polishing its surface.

Giraldo Square, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal

Giraldo Square, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

After the tour in the most glorious part of Evora one can not compromise a lunch in a mediocre place – Dom Joaquim restaurant offers an experience in style beyond  delicious food. Some of the dishes on the menu are as much historical as Evora’s ancient walls and temples: the spicy shark soup traces its history in tales of the city, when clever vendors of the fish preferred it to avoid the strict test on freshness by Evora’s housewives, inspecting the gills color. Since those days, the shark remains a star of Evorian cuisine, served with spicy soup and crunchy bread, it pleases both the taste and curiosity of traveller, making the discovery of Evora special in all senses.

 

 

#Portugal fire: EU sent a liason officer

All our thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected by the deadly forest fires that have struck several parts of Portugal.

We express our condolences to those that have lost loved ones.

The EU is fully ready to help. All will be done to assist the authorities and people of Portugal at this time of need.

In an immediate response to a request for assistance by the Portuguese authorities, the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism has been activated to provide firefighting aircraft.

Immediately, France has offered three planes through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and they will be quickly sent to assist the local emergency efforts. In addition, Spain has also sent aircraft on a bilateral basis.

We commend the bravery of the firefighters and emergency services on the scene risking their own lives to save others.

The European Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), which monitors natural disasters 24/7, is in constant contact with the national civil protection authorities.

The EU’s emergency centre has sent a liaison officer to Portugal and will coordinate the delivery of support and any further requests.

Statement by Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides on the deadly forest fires in #Portugal.

#Portugal blaze: EU promises assistance

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a message in Portuguese, published on Twitter, that his thoughts were with the victims and praised firefighters for their bravery.

The death toll released by Jorge Gomes, the secretary of state for internal affairs, has gradually climbed from the 19 initially announced late on Saturday, June, 17. Gomes said most of the victims were caught in their vehicles on the road. At the moment there are at least 43 killed, 59 injured in #Portugal forest fires, the number of missing is unknown.

https://twitter.com/Mariana96Gomes/status/876365407682269184

“All will be done to assist the authorities and people of Portugal at this time of need,” the European Commission’s aid chief, Christos Stylianides, said in a statement.

 

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