Costa Vicentina in Portugal and its wines

Cin Cin from Southern Portugal

Driving around Southern Portugal, I could not believe how diverse this region is.

To put things in a perspective: a 5-hour road trip from Toronto to Montreal yields no changes whatsoever - except the language on the road signs. If you drive for 1 hr in Portugal you end up in a different universe.

There was so much to see and so little damn time! We had to be brutally selective.

One of the places I regret not exploring properly is Portugal’s Costa Vicentina - the Atlantic coast of Southern Portugal.

Costa Vicentina South Portugal beach and wooden railCosta Vicentina in Portugal
Costa Vicentina Snails

It’s beautiful. It’s idyllic. Untainted by large-scale tourism.

Authentic fishing villages. Sprawling, mostly empty beaches framed by rugged cliffs.

Lots of big waves and - consequently - lots of hot surfers.

One of my favourite Portuguese wines is made on the Costa Vicentina.

I tried it at a stand-out restaurant called Casa do Gadanha, in Estremoz - a beautiful town in the heart of Alentejo.

Estremoz Alentejo Portugal FountainLago do Gadanha in Estremoz
Estremoz View of the CentreSmall streets of old Estremoz

Casa do Gadanha Restaurante in Estremoz

Casa do Gadanha is an establishment that merits a notice in the Michelin guide. And will probably get it.

This was one of the places recommended by a Portuguese food blogger Ines. We showed up for lunch on a hot sunny day - ready to be impressed.

Estremoz Casa do Gadanha Wooden Plaque Entrance
Casa do Gadanha entranceThe most discerning food critic - my dad - in front of Casa do Gadanha
Estremoz Portugal ArchitecturePalácio dos Marqueses de Praia e Monforte - outside of Casa do Gadanha
Casa do Gadanha Restaurant Estremoz Interior
Casa do Gadanha Kitchen
Casa do Gadanha bar

Our senses were bombarded by most imaginative culinary creations.

Everything was fresh and light - a perfect meal for a hot summer afternoon in Alentejo.

Pure simple genius from a young chef who came out to thank every table at the end of the lunch service.

Casa do Gadanha Restaurante AppetizerSourdough with home-made spreads
Casa do Gadanha Estremoz Vegetarian Cabbage RollCabbage roll stuffed with roasted nuts on a bed of delicate ricotta cheese
Casa do Gadanha Alentejo CevicheCeviche covered with lime-and-salt shaved ice

And before you say - "ha! it must have cost an arm and a leg". Nothing of the sort. It was a regular-priced meal. So, if you are within a 500 km radius from this place - make a detour.

The wine that held its own next to these culinary masterpieces was Vicentino Pinot Noir White Wine 2021 from the Atlantic Coast.

Portugal's Costa Vicentina wines - Vicentino

Vicentino Pinot Noir white 2021 handMay I present to you her royal highness - Vicentino Pinot Noir White 2021

Our initial intention was to give our livers a break ahead of a winery visit that day.

But our honourable plan was thwarted when a server walked by carrying this wine bottle. My eyes were immediately drawn to the magic words on the label: naked, unfiltered, cool, coastal…

The server didn’t make it far - I tackled her by the bar.

This Vicentino is a blanc de noir - without bubbles but with decent lees ageing and a memory of tannins.

Glass of Vicentino Pinot Noir UnfilteredI like wines that have a hazy look - they have a silky texture on the palate

Pinot Noir grapes were gently pressed not to extract any colour. So instead of aromas - it’s an echo of a whisper of an aroma.

It tasted like the ocean breeze. Portugal’s Costa Vicentina in a bottle.

Fresh, salty, slightly frizzy and low in alcohol. My kind of wine. Especially on a hot dry Alentejo day.

Costa Vicentina Portugal empty beachCosta Vicentina in Portugal - cool and misty - just like unfiltered Vicentino wine

Pinot Noir is not usually something you find in Southern Portugal. And for good reasons. The climate is too dry, too hot - unless you want to make a Pinot Noir jam.

But the Atlantic influence of Portugal's Costa Vicentina provides much needed coolness that slows down the ripening process and extends the growing season.

Here Pinot Noir grapes have a chance to develop properly - with delicate flavours and juicy acidity.

Vicentino Pinot Noir White on the table

It wasn’t the most complex wine. But it was honest in its simplicity - and that’s all I ever ask for.

I saw Vicentino wines at a supermarket in Lagos a couple of days later - with a 10 euro price tag.

I only wish our local Ontario supermarkets had the same commitment to quality and price reasonability.

Costa Vicentina life is goodI agree!

Casa do Gadanha Restaurante

R. Vasco da Gama 4, 7100-106 Estremoz, Portugal

Vicentino Wines

Herdade do Brejo Redondo, 7630-569, Portugal