by Raymond Reynolds
I’d heard many wonderful stories about the Açores, but Pico was an encounter that exceeded any expectation. Stunning setting, geography and landscape, a paradise in mid-Atlantic deep blue. The same went for the vineyards.
We met with Bernado Cabral, the coop’s winemaker since 2018, who, with family connections in the Açores, was drawn to Pico’s unique terroir and vineyards. He informed us that the coop’s members own over 80% of Pico’s vineyards, most of which are in the Criação Velha (World Heritage Site) on the northwest tip of the island, near the town of Madalena. Grown on Basaltic lava in man-made, walled ‘shelters’, called Currais, the native varieties are adapted to survive in this environment of extremes.
The favourite starter to any meal was the island’s fresh cheese, local bread and “volcanico” red pepper sauce. As for the wines, we had no real expectations given the challenges viticulture has there. Happy encounters again!
Testament to the enduring nature of the people, not one wine disappointed, and by the end of our stay we were hooked on Frei Gigante, from the Ilha do Pico Coop, alongside charcoal sizzled limpets and grilled Stone Bass.