Quinta Várzea da Pedra
Quinta da Várzea da Pedra is a family project located in Portugal’s Western region (região Oeste).
And if by West you immediately remembered Óbidos ou Bombarral, you’re correct.
The grapes are grown between the Lagoa de Óbidos, the Atlantic Ocean and Montejunto mountain range.
The whole process is designed for sustainability; harvesting is done by hand—the old-fashioned way.
The winemakers say this wine is created in a vineyard whose location dotes it with high freshness, minerality and acidity.
But the recent story of this estate is written by the bothers Tomás and Alberto Emídio, who inherited the family property and decided to get to work making wine.
A fun fact is that the bottle labels are inspired by the mosaics still present in this centenary estate. And better yet, the labels are designed by Tomás Emídio, who’s a designer.
As for the wines, the whites, the brothers use the varieties Arinto and Fernão Pires. For the reds, the choice falls on Syrah and Touriga Nacional. All the grapes used are from their vineyards.
All that’s left to do is for you to taste this Quinta Várzea da Pedra and discover the charm of the Oeste.
The Wine: Citric in colour with a delicate mineral aroma that’s typical of the variety and Atlantic Ocean influence. Structured, intense in the mouth, with a very persistent finish. Expresses the freshness, minerality and acidity of the estate’s wines
Winemaking process: Manual harvest into 10 kg boxes, total destemming, tear worst usage only. Fermentation and staging on fine lees in 500 L French oak barrels. Gentle filtration. May contain sediment.
Staging: 12 months on fine lees in used 500 L barrels.
Pairing: Ideal for seafood dishes, especially fish and seafood with higher fat content, some meats (poultry and pork) and cured cheeses.
Total Acidity: 8,90g/dm3
Pork cheeks you can eat with a spoon, Queijo da Serra potato purée
(Queijo da Serra – mature creamy cheese from the Serra da Estrela region made from sheep milk)
Ingredients (for 4 people):
1 kg of pork cheeks
4 garlic cloves
1 medium-sized onion
1 thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
150 ml mild red wine or stout beer
600 ml water
1 tablespoon butter
Queijo da Serra potato purée:
800 gr waxy or all-purpose potatoes
250 ml half-fat milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Queijo da Serra or from Azeitão (sheep milk, creamy, mature cheeses)
1 teaspoon salt
Nutmeg (freshly grated or in powder)
Truffle oil (optional)
Pork cheek preparation:
Season the pork cheeks with salt and pepper.
Wash and peel all the vegetables, cut into cubes and reserve.
In a pressure cooker, drizzle some olive oil and seal the pork cheeks on all sides. Take out of the cooker and reserve.
In the same cooker, add the onion, garlic, carrot, leek, bay leaf, thyme and, lastly, the tomato. Cook for 15 minutes on medium heat.
Turn the heat up to high and add the wine*. After the alcohol has evaporated, add the water.
Put the sealed pork cheeks back into the cooker, attach pressure cooker lid and cook for 1:30 hrs** on medium heat.
Turn heat off and let rest for 30 minutes.
Take out the cheeks, bay leaf and thyme.
To make the sauce, add a tablespoon of butter to the broth and vegetables. With a stick/hand blender, blend until smooth and creamy.
*for a stronger sauce, increase the amount of wine and reduce the amount of water. In this case, a proportion of 1 wine to 5 water was used because more wine is added later for improved harmony.
**if you don’t have a pressure cooker, cook the cheeks on medium heat for 3 hours and check if more water is needed half-way through.
Queijo da Serra potato purée preparation:
Heat up a pot of water.
When water boils, add the peeled and washed potatoes, cut into quarters. Season with salt.
Let boil for 20 minutes on medium heat.
Check to see if potatoes are cooked with a fork.
Take off heat and drain water.
With a fork or potato masher, mash the potatoes until they become a purée.
Add the butter and the cheese and mix until both melt into the purée.
Add the milk and mix well.
Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and truffle oil (if desired).
In a serving platter, or in each plate, spread some purée on the bottom and top with pork cheeks. Add a generous amount of sauce and decorate with chopped chives or any other aromatic herb of choice.