taste-of-edesia-beautyShe is the beauty and I am the beast,” says the owner of Quinta do Vale Dona Maria, Cristiano van Zeller, with daughter Francisca standing next to him. An ancient estate in the heart of the Douro Valley, Quinta do Vale Dona Maria produces some of the world’s finest Port and Douro wines. With an incredible passion for winemaking, the father and daughter duo travel all over the world not only to promote their wine, but also their philosophy on innovation. To them, wines are about personality, character, excitement, pleasure and fun. Most of all, they think they do everything better than the French.
Ironically, the venue chosen to showcase the Portuguese wine is a French restaurant, The Tasting Room by Chef Guillaume Galliot, housed inside the Crown Towers at Macau’s City of Dreams. Being French, yet not a bit offended by what Cristiano just said, Chef Guillaume diligently works in the kitchen as always, delivering a one-of-a-kind menu to pair seamlessly with the wine.
First up is the foie gras cooked “en papillote” with mushroom, fresh hazelnut, and eel, paired with both the Vinha da Francisca Douro Red 2011 and 2012. While the 2012 is fresher and younger, I personally prefer the 2011. Notes of black cherries, plums, and raspberry fill the entire mouth on the first sip, as the ageing in 75% new and 25% one-year-old French oak casks concentrates the original mature tannins of the wine and helps smoothen its power. Quite elegant indeed.
“You can think of the wine that is coming out of the Douro wine region as something similar to the Burgundy wine. We mix different grape varieties together to create something unique, and sometimes these various grape varieties are planted one next to another in one field. Then, we take what we have in one field and mix,” Francisca explains.
Two of the more complex bottles would be the Vinha do Rio Douro Red and Curriculum Vitae Douro Red, both served with Chef Guillaume’s smoked beef with crisp potato purée. Highly concentrated, the Vinha do Rio Douro Red 2011 is made from a 100-year-
old vineyard, full of mature red fruit aromas. Fresh notes of rockrose are prominent, but the berry flavors are not upfront. As the wine slips down the palate, the flavors become more apparent. It is like a glass of discrete elegance that evolves in the glass, surprising with little nuances on every sip.
Acoording to Guillaume, however, the highlight of the evening is yet to come. “I made a slightly heavy dessert to go with the port wine. You will see. It’s magical,” he says. Minutes after he returns to the kitchen, a dark, “fondant” style chocolate brownie is served on our table, along with some pine nut ice cream. I move in with a fork and put a small piece into my mouth. Immediately, the fudgy, dark chocolate cake melts softly within seconds. Sipping on the Vale Dona Maria 1970 Colheita Old Tawny Port, I feel like I am in chocolate heaven, floating on a sea of pine nut cream, relaxed and content as the exquisite, amber liquid maneuvers down the throat. The beauty and the beast are better than the duo in the Disney animated movie for sure. After this dinner, I think they should really consider making an adult version of “Beauty and the Beast,” with Cristiano and Francisca showcasing their love for winemaking. What a pair!

Categories Taste of Edesia