After the morning walk in the jurassic laurel forest, we drove to São Vicente to taste with Tito Brazão at Quinta do Barbusano. But, first we stopped at the north coast town of Santana to have lunch at Quinta do Furão.
Santana is famous for its 16th century houses and the folklore festival the town hosts every July. The unique and colourful triangular houses are built of stone and have a roof of straw.
Quinta do Furão is a 46-room manor house hotel surrounded by 2ha of organic vineyards and situated on a cliff top at Achada do Gramacho with sensational views of the ocean and coastline. It was once owned by the madeira Wine Company but at present is in private hands. The vineyards are planted with Arnsburger, Touriga Nacional, Verdelho and Tinta Roriz.
The restaurant was already packed when we arrived but a table was reserved for us in a quiet corner of the verandah overlooking the sea. The view was spectacular and the lunch was grand. The restaurant manager, polite and smiling, directed the serving staff. We sipped Blandy’s Atlantis Rosé from Tinta Negra first and had a cold grape soup with lemon grass syrup paired with Blandy’s 10 Year Old Verdelho. Fillet of Scabbard fish with sweet potatoes followed. Verdelho based Atlantis Branco was poured. After a sorbet of grapes, marinated beef fillet and mushrooms in puff pastry was served. We drank Quinta do Beijo red with it – a blend of Tinta Barroca, Cabernet Sauvignon and Touriga Franca produced in Sao Vicente. A Madeira wine souffle with strawberry and chocolate was accompanied by Blandy’s 10 Year Old Bual.
We took the old, narrow and twisting high coastal road with its old-fashion tunnels to São Vicente. The village is on the sea with a back drop of mist clad blue mountains. Attractions of the village include the much visited caves formed by underground lava channels after a volcanic eruption 400,000 years ago, the 17th century church with beautiful frescoes in the centre of the village, the 1694 sea-side chapel built at the spot where Saint Vincent is said to have appeared and the Pico da Cova chapel with its 14 metre high tower and clock built in 1942 by returning war veterans.
It was not easy to find Quinta do Barbusano. We lost our way and were going in circles and finally had to telephone Tito Brazão at the Quinta for directions. Quiet and unassuming, Tito spelled out his wine philosophy and took us on a tour of a section of his 15 acre terraced vineyards. He grows Verdelho, Arnsburger, Aragones, Tinta Negra and Tourga Nacional. Arnsburger is a white varietal created 1939 by Heinrich Birk at the Geisenheim Institute in Germany by crossing two clones of Riesling, clone 88 and clone 64. It was named after Arnsburg Cistercian Abbey in Wetter in recognition of the role of Cistercians in the German wine scene. Tito talked about the different grapes, showed us his irrigation system and picked grapes for us to taste.
We tasted Tito’s wines in a makeshift tasting room near the entrance to the Quinta. His winery and cellars are at a different location in Sao Vicente. We were already familiar with his 2014 Barbusano unoked white from Verdelho and Arnsburger, having drunk and liked it on several occasions at lunches and dinners elsewhere in Madeira. His very dark 2013 rosé from Aragones and Touriga Nacional was fresh and very dry. “I like my rosé with a bit of residual sugar” I said. “I think it makes the wine softer, rounded and more attractive.” Tito listened with interest. The 2012 red, again from Aragones was rich, soft and attractive.
“I want to buy more land and expand my vineyard and build a proper tasting room” Tito told me. It was pleasing to hear that he has a burning desire to make great unfortified Madeiran table wines. There is no reason why he couldn’t make cracking white wines from Verdelho and Malvasia. The market is already there – most wine drinkers on the island would happily drink Madeiran whites with their excellent seafood instead of the sweet and fortified stuff or the whites, though very good, from mainland Portugal. Tito Brazão of Quinta do Barbusano is a rising star and one to watch. For me, he is already the best table winemaker in Madeira.
- Quinta do Furao
- Putting the fun in to Funchal for Wine Lovers: Madeira – By Sarah Ahmed
- Madeira – The old road ER101, on the north coast
- “As always, enjoyed reading and the amazing pictures. Tks.” – Mal Dias Keragala, Colombo, Sri Lanka (via Facebook), 21 November 2016
Our visit was arranged by:
Rita Galvão CEO / Diretora Executiva +351 912304517 www.discoveringmadeira.com www.winetoursmadeira.com