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Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal - Winery/Museum in Azeitão
by
Kathy and Terry Sullivan

Quinta da BacalhôaSummary: Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal - Winery/Museum in Azeitão is a combination of a winery and art museum. On the property there are numerous old olive trees and statues. The facility is located south of Lisbon in the Peninsula de Setúbal. While planning your visit to Quinta da Bacalhôa, it would be to your advantage to visit the art museum which features colorful and inspiring works of African art. You will observe that this winery has a passion for wine and art.

Traveling a little over an hour south of Portugal’s capital Lisbon, we arrived at Quinta da Bacalhôa in the Peninsula de Setúbal region. Not far from a large gate to Quinta da Bacalhôa, numerous short and tall stainless steel tanks give visitors an opportunity to see the size of the winery. Close b,y large sculptures of royal blue horses and their Chinese, warrior riders are captivating, almost as if standing guard for the grounds and buildings. Other sculptures in white stone adorn the property grounds.

Quinta da BacalhôaPerhaps most intriguing in the area outside of the winery, are the immense and large old olive trees. Near the entrance to the winery, a sign by one olive tree notes, “This millennial olive tree was planted by the Romans around 650 BC. Thus, it could be said that the Romans picked olives from this tree before Christ performed such miracles as the feeding of the 5,000, resurrecting the dead and preaching the word of God.” The plaque also notes that this olive tree was moved from Alqueva, Alentejo to save it when a manmade lake was built. Other olive trees on the property range in age from 500 to 2,300 years old.

The winery was founded in 1922 by Mr, João Pires & Sons and then later renamed JP Wines. From the Quinta da Bacalhôa website: “In 1998, Commander José Berardo became the main shareholder and continued the company's mission, investing in planting new vineyards, modernizing wineries and acquiring new properties, and started a partnership with the Lafitte Rothschild Group in Quinta do Carmo.” This partnership came to an end in 2007. Then he decided to create one of the largest wine groups in Portugal and called it Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal.

In 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon was planted and in 1983 Mosatel grapevines were added. Between 1998 and 2001 more grapevines were planted. Today Quinta da Bacalhôa has a presence in seven of Portugal’s wine regions including: Alentejo, Peninsula de Setúbal, Lisbon, Bairrada, Däo and Douro. The company has three wineries including the one visited in the Peninsula de Setúbal.

As one of the largest winemaking companies in Portugal, Quinta da Bacalhôa is producing 20 million liters and owns 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres) of vineyards. In Setúbal, the winery has 300 hectares (741 acres) of grapevines. Grape varieties in this region include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Touriga National, Chardonnay, Merlot and Moscatel.

Quinta da BacalhôaMuseum at Quinta da Bacalhôa

During our visit to the winery, our tour guide took us through the African art museum. The owner of Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal owned many businesses in Africa and was a collector of African art. The one-of-a-kind, large art museum, adjacent to the barrel rooms, provides a colorful display of many types of African art. The ceiling is high and a variety of multicolored fabrics float high above the ground level. The museum also has a round hut with a long grass roof, animal sculptures, animal skins, wood carvings and much more. Many visitors to the museum are likely to be amazed by the various types of artwork.

Barrel Rooms

Quinta da BacalhôaIn the barrel rooms, temperature and humidity are controlled. However, what is unique is that music is also used in the barrel rooms. The music selection is of monks chanting and the winemaker believes this causes the wine to vibrate gently in the barrels. The winery with 1,200 barrels, uses new French oak barrels for white and red still wines while older French, American and Russian oak barrels are for the fortified Moscatel. The first two barrel rooms were similar with walls lined with oak barrels. It was the third barrel room where our group enjoyed viewing the oak barrels within the boundaries of walls lined with the fabled Portuguese tile pictures. We seemed to spend extra time in this special room and took time to enjoy the many different vintage tiles.

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal Wines

A separate building including a wine shop and tasting room, is available for visitors to taste Quinta da Bacalhôa wines. The tasting room has large windows offering views of nature which are very enjoyable as one tastes some of the many Quinta da Bacalhôa wines.

Quinta da BacalhôaOur tasting began with a 2016 Catarina, Vinho Regional Península de Setúbal, a blend of Fernão Pires, Chardonnay and Arinto. The wine had 13% alcohol. The wine was a yellow color with a gold hue. The taste was floral with apple. The mouthfeel was very silky and the taste was of apple, some yellow stone fruit, daisies and citrus. The finish was crisp and fruity.

The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vinho Regional Península de Setúbal, with 14.5% alcohol, was an opaque dark ruby to black color with a ruby rim. The wine was aged for 11 months in French oak. The aroma was of blackberries. The wine was full-bodied with bold tannins. The wine offered notes of blackberries, cassis and baking spices. The finish was fruity with fruit yielding to baking spices on the aftertaste.

The 2015 Moscatel, Moscatel de Setúbal DO was 17% alcohol. Fermentation of the Moscatel was stopped on the third day by adding brandy to the wine. The winery uses their own brandy. The brandy kills the yeast and this leaves some of the grape sugar unfermented. The wine was a translucent dark burnt orange color. The wine had an aroma of orange blossoms. The mouthfeel was very velvety and full-bodied. The wine was sweet with orange and orange blossoms. The finish had no alcohol burn. The long aftertaste included orange blossoms and honeysuckle. Consider enjoying this wine as an aperitif.

When planning to visit Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal - Winery/Museum in Azeitão, plan to spend some extra time ambling through the grounds, in the African art museum and in the winery tasting room. It's always recommened that you book the tours previously by phone +315 212 198 067 / +351 916 485 206 or by email visitas@bacalhoa.pt.

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal - Winery/Museum in Azeitão
Estrada Nacional 10, 2925-901
Azeitão, Portugal

 

Article written March 2018.

 



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