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Whilst your holiday plans may have been postponed, there is no reason why you can’t visit Portugal without leaving home and from the comfort of your armchair right now.
A book description, a certain film scenery or tasting a wine from a particular region, all have the power to transport you somewhere else in a dreamlike manner. Here are our suggestions to help you #stayathome during the Covid19 pandemic but pretend you’re on holiday in Portugal:
A remarkable and powerful novel, beautifully structured, with characters that make your skin crawl and others who inspire hope in mankind’s basic dignity. Robert Wilson tells two stories moving masterfully from one era to another, from a brutal murder in 1990’s Portugal back to Germany in 1941 and the great cataclysm of World War II.
The first part of the book focuses on an ambitious, rough-edged but likeable businessman, Klaus Felsen, who is convinced by the Gestapo to go to remote central Portugal and seize the lion’s share of the country’s supply of mined wolfram, vital to the Nazi war effort. Later, we meet Manuel Abrantes, a much darker and more dangerous character, who turns out to be the main link between the past and the present.
Fast forward to Lisbon fifty-some years later. The principal character of the book is a middle-aged detective called Jose Coelho, better known as Zé; his late British wife, whom he met while exiled in London with his military officer father during the anti-Salazar political uprisings of the 1970s; and Zé’s wise, talented and sexually active 16-year-old daughter.
As Zé sifts through the sordid circumstances surrounding the murder of the promiscuous daughter of a powerful, vindictive lawyer, Wilson shines a harsh light on the Portuguese society of the time.
Nice Portuguese immigrant couple Maria and José have lived in Paris for almost thirty years, in a tiny room on the ground floor of a building, in one of Paris’s most exclusive districts.
José is a site manager/odd-job-man and Maria is the concierge of the building, both loved by all the residents even if they are not treated that well! The day the couple have the opportunity to return to the Douro Valley in northern Portugal and a better life, their friends, neighbours and employers will do everything to dissuade them. Can they leave their Parisian life behind and move on?
Franco-Portuguese film director Ruben Alves set part of this comic bittersweet film at Quinta dos Malvedos in the Douro, home of Graham’s port and one of the Symington’s Family Estates quintas – it includes a fantastic family lunch on the terrace. As well as a charming take on Portuguese expressions, traditional dishes, Fado music and football, this film wonderfully showcases some of the Douro Valley’s stunning scenery.
Youtube link “The making of La Cage Dorée“.
And what better way to complement your film or book than with a glass (or two) of Sonhador?
Made at the avantgarde Howard’s Folly winery in Estremoz, in the Alentejo region, these delicious wines are available for home delivery in Portugal, the UK and Hong Kong!
Sonhador, which means dreamer in Portuguese, truly is British entrepreneur Howard Bilton’s dream come true. Together with Australian winemaker David Baverstock, he created Howard’s Folly, a brand that brings together wine, art and charity.
The winery, which is located in the town of Estremoz, not only is the very first urban winery of the region, it is also the only one featuring murals by graffiti artist Le Funky, and to give something back through sponsorship of an arts-based charity for underprivileged children, the Sovereign Art Foundation.
With over three decades of experience in winemaking in Portugal (some of which with the Symington family in the Douro and 25 at the famous Esporão estate in the Alentejo), David Baverstock embraced this project as an opportunity to make his very own wines. The results are well structured red and white wines that represent two of the country’s most iconic winemaking regions: the Alentejo, in centre of the country, and Monção and Melgaço, all the way up north, where vinho verde is made.
The Alentejo wines are smooth and rich, filled with the warmth of the terroir, whereas the vinhos verdes are fresh and crisp. Whatever our preference, we’re sure that sipping a Sonhador wine will make you dream about your next holiday in Portugal.
Alex Stilwell of the Chef Agency’s and who contributed to this review is a fan! You can order your bottles of Sonhador from www.howardsfollywine.com