When I think of the Alentejo it conjures up images of vast wide open spaces, cork trees and artesan food products, but most of all fine wines and olive oil.Used for seasoning, in meals (as an ingredient), for frying or used cold (for preserving sausages, olives, certain vegetables and cheeses), olive oil is an important part of any cuisine, both in sweet and savoury food, imbuing it with flavour, aromas and colour. It distinguishes and customizes our food.One soon learns and becomes comfortable with particular brands that are reliable and work best for you as an individual.In my case Esperao is the name and olive oil is its acclaim.
Herdade do Esporão is currently a national and international benchmark in the field of wine and olive oil production.Like so many projects in Portugal, Esperao is a family business passed down through generations.In this particular case the Roquette family is now only in its second generation.Surprisingly, Portugal produces only 1.5% of the world´s olive oil production. The glorious Alentejan wines we quaff so easily are another matter altogether.Over the last 41 years, Esporão has made a major contribution to building the identity of the Alentejo as a top winegrowing region.A bottle of wine can and should reflect the climate and land where it was made, the customs and knowledge of those who produce it and the imagination of those who drink it.No pressure there then.
Every wine label tells a story. It is not just the mark of the producer, varietal, vintage, origin, percentage of alcohol by volume, wine-making style, net contents and government warnings. Labels tell more subtle tales about wine makers and their whims, what inspires them, and who they hope will buy and drink their wine. Labels not only reveal things about what is in the bottle but provide clues about their makers´history.
Some wine labels are stand-alone artworks. France’s Château Mouton-Rothschild is one of the world’s most sought-after and prized wine brands.
In the 1920s, the founder’s heir and great-grandson, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, enhanced the brand’s collectability by commissioning famous artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol, to create original designs for labels. The practice soon became permanent.Likewise
from their beginning, Herdade do Esporão wines have had an association with the iconic world of art, allying some of their most prestigious wines with the world of fine art.
The enjoyment of Esperao wines is as much about drinking them as appreciating the labels and some of the iconic artworks that support them.From the simplicity of the Alandra range to the more complex reservas and private collection wines Herdade de Esperao is inseparable from the iconic world of Portuguese art.I remember a few years back when the graphic image on the Alandra label showed the bunch of grapes but not as it is now.The grapes were actually dye cut showing the wine in the bottle behind the label.This is an example of the quality and imagination behind Esperao products.
One of founding principles of Herdade do Esporão was setting Portuguese artists the challenge of illustrating the labels of their “Reserva” and “Private Selection” wines. The list is endless, the following artists have taken up the challenge: António Ole, Armando Alves, Artur Bual, Costa Pinheiro, Dórdio Gomes, Gabriel e Gilberto Colaço, Graça Morais, Guilherme Parente, Joana Vasconcelos, João Hogan, José de Guimarães, José Manuel Rodrigues, José Pedro Croft, Julião Sarmento, Júlio Pomar, Júlio Resende, Lourdes de Castro, Luís Pinto Coelho, Manuel Cargaleiro, Mestre Isabelino, Pedro Cabrita Reis, Pedro Calapez, Pedro Proença, Rubens Gerschman and Rui Sanches.
This collection of original works, is on show in their wine tourism building.
Portugal is a country notorious for producing great value wines, and Esporão’s list of affordable bottles is long and appealing. With sleek and simple yet attractive and unique wine labels, Esporão has plenty of options to offer.