Wine of the Week – The Wine That Changed My Life

Monte Velho - Old Hill in PortugueseWhile discussing many things with wine-minded people on Twitter, I came across a competition of sorts on The Wine Whore blog. It asks for people to convey the wine that changed their lives. “Intriguing” I said to myself. “I should be able to come up with something for that – it will be fun”. Well let me tell you, it is not as easy as you think.

With much mashing of brain cells, not to mention many glasses of wine drunk, I set about trying to come up with something that was truly a life changing wine for me. A place where I do a lot of thinking, the wine shop, came to my rescue. I was looking for something big, red, but inexpensive. With the budget imposed by Christmas shopping, I was looking for something to gratify my wine requirements until I can start opening some less cost-effective wines for Christmas celebratory purposes next week.

As I often do, I found myself in the very small Portuguese section. After asking myself for the 100th time, “why are there not more wines from Portugal here?” I saw a familiar label on the shelf and a pleasant feeling washed over me. I knew this, above any other, was the wine that changed my life.

Therefore this week’s Wine of the Week is the current 2008 vintage of Monte Velho, made by Herdade do Esporão. This wine is a blend of native Portuguese Trincadeira, Aragones and Castelão grapes. It has an elegant nose with a spicy rich fruity aroma. The taste provides a good hit of fruit, with some oak and then just enough tannin to fill the mouth. For under €10 this wine, as with many from Portugal, is very under valued. It can’t compete with the single vineyard varieties made by Herdade do Esporão, however it does represent fantastic value for the price tag.

Monte VelhoThis is not the greatest wine every made, so why is this the wine that changed my life? On my first visit to Portugal with two very good friends, we stopped to get petrol at a service station and inside we also were able to get some nice food to take back to our camp site along with this wine. It was remarkable enough for me that you could get good quality food and some wine at the same place you fill your car. What was even more shocking was that it was also inexpensive and great quality.

As we ate our assorted chorizo, olives, cheese and bread which went fantastically well with the wine and with the sun setting, It got me thinking ‘I could live here’. I guess everyone has thought this while on holiday somewhere. However on my 4th visit to Portugal earlier this year, I decided once and for all to leave my reasonably well paying job and move to Portugal. In just over a month, I will move there and offer tours to the wine producing area, that produced this and many other great quality wines, the Alentejo. I want others to experience the same beauty, great people, fantastic food and outstanding wine that had such an effect on me. If it was not for the experience of this wine, I would probably be planning how to get a promotion in the corporate environment that does not suit me what so ever.

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6 comments to Wine of the Week – The Wine That Changed My Life

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wine Lovernews, Chris Metcalfe. Chris Metcalfe said: The latest post from me… http://bit.ly/5cX3bM Hope you enjoy! Have a great weekend everyone! Cheers [...]

  • I’m actually really jealous.. I admire you for grabbing onto your life and leading it where you want to go.

    I love this post!

  • Thanks Randy! I am counting the days until I can really get stuck in to it in the new year. I figure I will be doing what I really want to do for a change, so even if it doesn’t go 100% smoothly I will enjoy it!

    Great recent blogs on your site by the way!

  • Michael

    Chris, I don’t know which wine changed my life but I do want to share our latest wine adventure with you. It was a ten day, five wine growing regions extravaganza around South Australia and Victoria. It added up to a find the best sparkling red quest.
    We started in Coonawarra where St Mary MacIllop was about to be beatified the following day. The usual suspects were visited, Majella and Hollicks where the famous sparkling merlot resides, but we added on a trip to Rymill and were blown away by a sparkling shiraz called “the Bees Knees”. The winemaker is French and their sparkling pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot meurnier wasn’t bad either. What impressed was the price – in conversation with the cellar door keeper, we discovered that this was a definite policy by management to attract customers.
    Langhorne Creek was next as it’s located between Penola and Goolwa and after a 400 kilometre trek, we deserved a taste. We’d been to Bleasdale previously, so we decided on Bremereton. Again a welcome surprise but the prices were steeper than Coonawarra.
    Next stop Maclaren Vale with its 81 cellar doors in a strip ten kilometres square. Again we tried the usual places like Wirra Wirra and Hugh Hamilton, the latter does a great Tempranillo and a rose from the same grape that comes in a 13.9 percent. But the sparkling red is a shiraz cab blend with a wicked label -”The Madame”. Robyn was going to buy the T-shirt but decided it may give the wrong impression. Then the new experiences – a conglomerate of three labels in one spot including the sparkling “The Black Chook” and then Fox Creek for “The Vixen”. We can get it in discount liquor shops in Melbourne for under $20 and it was the same at cellar door. But it is a very nice sparkling shiraz and went down well with the pasta we had for dinner back at the campsite.
    Christmas Day we headed back to Melbourne but decided to break the trip at Halls Gap. No wineries open, so it was a relief to the palate and we did have ample supplies. Boxing Day and Bests and Seppelts at Great Western. Bests didn’t have a sparkling shiraz but they do have a straight pinot meurnier which is very novel. Seppelts is an arm of Fosters the brewers and they had committed the ultimate sin in pulling out the only Ondenc vines I know about. They used to sell a sparkling Ondenc at cellar door but the corporates must have decided it wasn’t feasible. They did have some interesting sparklings on tasting though – the Fleur De Lys and the Salinger are fine, but there was a French sparkler there as well. Apparently Fosters sent a team of wine makers to France to show them how “we” did it and learn from the masters. The result was four French wines made by the team and marketed in Australia. A pinot gris from Alsace and the sparkling wine from the Loire were the ones I tried. Not bad and reasonably priced. The old faithful sparkling red used to be called a burgundy but is now “The Original” and is till great value at about $17 in the discount shops. The premium sparkling red is $34 at cellar door but really worth the money.
    The best name? Certainly the Black Chook. The best value? The Vixen. And the best quality? Probably the Madame just in front of the Reynella.
    Michael and Robyn, the blue Kombi and the dog, Sonny.

  • Sounds like a great trip!

  • It is hard to have a good blog nowadays, so many of them on the net, this one is pretty good, easy design and straight forward information. Thanks for showing your blog.

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