Chalone Trip to Portugal
Luigi and Manly, 1994

A few general observations:

1. References to Paddy apply to Patricia Nichols, Managing Director of XO Travel Consultants, Ltd, 38 West 32nd Street, Suite 1009, New York, New York 10001, who arranged the trip and acted as den mother to us all.

2. If you try to pronounce Portuguese words, remember that "nh" sounds like the Spanish n with a squiggle over it so that "vinho," the word for wine, sounds like "veenyo." A like rule applies to h after l as in "Carvalho."

3. Portugal used to be a very inexpensive country for American tourists. Now prices for tourist oriented establishments resemble those in the rest of Western Europe, but the prices in places that cater to the residents have not yet caught up.

4. We found little need for currency. Luigi bought $100 worth of Escudos before we left Chicago and we had enough left over to buy two bottles of good Port at the airport as we left. The tour paid for all hotel and most meal bills; expensive restaurants that we visited on our own took Visa cards and the others didn't cost much. The tour covered the cost of breakfast and either lunch or dinner each day, and we were so well fed that we generally ate lightly when on our own.

5. If you try to locate the city of Bussaco on a map you will fail. Bussaco is a forest and is spelled Bucaco (with the first c disgorging a worm from its bottom) in Portuguese. It is near and uphill from the town of Luso.

Friday, October 7
Hotel Palacio de Seteais
8 Rua Barbosa du Bocage
2710 Sintra, Portugal
My wife Luigi and I, with several other members of the Chalone Wine Group shareholder's tour of Portugal were collected at the Lisbon airport and taken by bus straightway to Sintra, an old summer resort city west of Lisbon; nowadays seaside resorts are more popular, so Sintra is not so crowded as it would otherwise be. The City is built on hills with narrow winding streets. The hotel is a 19th century private palace with 4 or 5 levels of gardens that require more maintenance than they get. Paths wind through bushes to obscure stone seats and benches where Nanny will never find one. The interior was freshly painted in many places; gilt and floral painted trim. A magnificent big green rococo grand piano stands in the music room. Much of the furniture is painted in various designs and appears to be what museums would like to get. Outside, at the roofpeak stands a concrete urn with copper yucca leaves that have weathered to a plantlike green. Our bedroom contained a writing table, bedside stand, headboards and dressing table of wood decorated with elaborate marquetry, beds with linen sheets and a wardrobe with paneled wooden doors. The bronze 5-bulb chandelier in scrollwork pattern was so elaborate that we could not resist the temptation to hang our laundry from it.

Before dinner we had a reception in room next to the hotel dining room. Cocktails included white Port, recommended by Paddy as good substitute for Sherry. It was dry, full bodied, well flavored with good aroma and aftertaste.

At dinner Jerry Luper, a former California winemaker and now director of winemaking for Portuguese firm of Carvalho, Ribeiro & Ferreira, spoke of some of the differences between California and Portugal in winemaking. More government regulation in Portugal. Also different grapes, traditions and tastes.

The white wine at that dinner was Carvalho, Ribeiro & Ferreira 1992 -- light, very dry, no fruit, hard. Satisfactory company to a cabbage based soup with sausage and green herbs and quenelles of fish mornay (delicate fish in white sauce). The red was Carvalho, Ribeiro & Ferreira 1988 -- medium body, good aroma and aftertaste, very dry, little fruit. It was good with roast turkey. Dessert was lemon souffle.

Saturday, October 8
Hotel Palacio de Seteais
The group was taken to Queluz Palace and gardens. A grubby generic 18th Century European palace. Pleasant but uninspired gardens. Then we went to the Royal Palace of Sintra which had a good Moorish start in the 14th Century. Much nice tile work -- three dimensional tiles from the days when they knew no other way of keeping colored glazes from running during firing. Heavy, thick stone walls and small windows, high ceilings - appropriate for a hot climate. One room was called the "Magpie Room" because in it the King was caught kissing one of the ladies in waiting, and the resulting gossip was so intense that the King responded by having the ceiling painted with pictures of magpies all over the surface.

The group separated to go our various ways in downtown Sintra for lunch. Max, Karen, Luigi and I ate at "O Chico" Taberna Tipica Bar, an open air restaurant along a wide place in a narrow cobblestone street with a rooster running about the premises. Less appealing was a motor scooter driven through. Good beer with fish and shrimp soup for two served in a cylindrical aluminum tureen; the soup included two whole large prawns with 6" or 8" antennae. Olives served as appetizers. Excellent fresh bread. 5,400 Escudos = $35 for two.

Then Luigi and I walked along the narrow, twisting cobblestone road back to the hotel, pressing ourselves against mossy stone walls as traffic came by and listening for an absence of traffic at especially sharp curves.

In the late afternoon we visited the Carvalho, Ribeiro & Ferreira Colares Winery. It involved a walk through a sandy field of bamboo to vines lying prone on sand in a plot about size of large bed sheet. Colares wine is made from Ramisco grapes, grown on the vine's original roots that lie below two to ten meters of sand, which keeps phylloxera at bay so that grafted rootstock is not needed. They plant the roots that deep because that's where the soil is. The 1990 Colares wine that we tasted was red-tawny with moderate bouquet, moderate body, nice aftertaste, very dry, and good tannin; 12 percent alcohol. The 1992 Colares was light red, with more aroma, more tannin, harsher, and a very long good aftertaste. It was a blend that included some wine aged in new oak. Jerry Luper thought it had too much oak for the amount of body and will make future wines with less oak. They use Portuguese oak, of which there is not much available.

We were told that Portugal, which has been making wine since Roman times, imports very little wine but drinks its own. Like most wine-producing countries in Europe.

An indication of the extent of regulation of wineries in Portugal: Luper needs to get permission to use drip irrigation, which he wants in order to keep the vines growing until the grapes ripen fully and produce more sugar than they do when the grapes die for lack of water in the late summer. As this is a very windy area, close to the Atlantic coast, grapes that do not grow flat on the sand are grown on trellises about a foot above ground surrounded by netting for wind protection.

On the way to dinner we passed the lighthouse that marks the westernmost point of continental Europe. Dinner was at Visconde da Luz restaurant in the fishing village of Cascais; it included white Port and Alvarinho 1993 Green Wine {white} in brown bottle served cold in flutes -- slight effervescence if any, light, very dry, little aroma, long aftertaste, acidic. It was very good with melon and prosciutto. The entree was cataplana - shrimp, small clams, calamari, etc cooked long and slow in a copper pot with tomato and onion and garlic cream sauce with shreds of smoked sausage over rice. Yum. The green wine was right with it and was satisfactory with the fruit dessert: mango, papaya, kiwi, melon, raspberries, orange, pineapple etc. Good Portuguese brandy was served in larger snifters for men than for women. It is darker than Cognac and different though agreeable in flavor. The strong coffee in demi-tasse cups was so bitter even I added sugar.

Sunday, October 9
Hotel Infante de Sagres
Praca D. Filipa de Lencastre, 62
4000 Porto, Portugal
We were taken by bus from Sintra to Porto via the Monastery at Batalha. At a rest stop I saw an olive tree from which I picked a ripe olive and started to eat it; I quickly spat it out and continued spitting several times but the unwelcome taste lingered until lunchtime.

The Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitoria (begun 1388) at Batalha, was "built largely in the English Perpendicular Gothic style" according to the encyclopedia. It comprises a good sized cathedral. A number of gargoyles were appropriately menacing but remote. A cloister and a few other parts of the cathedral showed influence of the design of India, possibly as a result of Portuguese colonies in India. Lunch was wherever we chose in the vicinity; Luigi and I ate a couple of apples sitting on a park bench. Others ate at any of several nearby restaurants.

After stopping for a very good view of the City of Oporto from a square next to a military barracks overlooking the Douro River, we proceeded to the Hotel Infante de Sagres where we were welcomed with glasses of good red Port.

At 7:00 pm the bus took us down to the port warehouse area beside the Douro river. We went to the establishment of The House of Ferreira Port where we were given an introduction to the Port wine growing area and the shipping area in Porto. The Ferreira Port house tasting was in a ground floor receiving room with whitewashed stone walls, dark stone floor and ceiling of rough logs supporting whitewashed boards. We tasted, or at least had the opportunity to taste, Ferreira 1980 vintage port, and the '82, '83, '85, and '87, and the Duque de Braganca 20 yr old, Dona Antonia 8yr old, and the Ferreira Reserva 3 year old, which was very powerful.

The winemakers taste the wine daily as it ages, and blend daily, to check the natural grape sugar so that it ferments to only to 30 degrees; non-vintage Port is aged by oxidation in wood. Ferreira stops fermentation 1 degree sooner than most others for more sweet taste to balance more tannin. Non-vintage aged Ports are blended, young with old, so that the average age is whatever is shown on the label. Vintage wine is aged in the bottle, not oxidized as in blended. To fortify Port, the wine is mixed with brandy at a 75/25 ratio.

With dinner at Ferreira we had Planalto Reserve 1992 white - - light, little aroma, long aftertaste; it was very good with smoked trout and mayonnaise sauce, lettuce, cucumbers etc. Then they served Barca Velha 1983 red which has a good strong, complex aroma, medium full body, long, good aftertaste. It is a mixture of five different grapes grown at different altitudes from vineyards between the Spanish border and the River Douro, and was superb with duck rice. Finally we were served with 1982 Ferreira Vintage Port. It was very good, especially with Douro grapes and Queijo da Serra cheese - like a robust camembert. Slight licorice taste.

Monday, October 10
Hotel Infante de Sagres
This hotel advertizes itself with 5 stars. In a moment of pique at the size of our room where a cabinet door struck one of the beds instead of opening fully, I wondered if the scale of stars was 1-100. Otherwise the hotel was quite satisfactory except for a woman across from the rear of the hotel who kept hollering all night long near our window. We suspect that she was advertizing professional services.

A 7:40 am train took the group up the Douro River Valley through beautiful hills and mountains to Pinhao, the center of Port wine growing area. The leaves on the grape vines and on many trees were turning color. From Pinhao we were driven in autos and vans to near the top of a mountain where we were entertained at the lovely Quinta de Lamelas guest house that rents for $1200 per week. It is Part of Quinta de la Rosa, above the grape vines and has a magnificent view. We were served Port with codfish balls, almonds, hushpuppies (although they call them something else in Portuguese), potato chips and sausage all made at Quinta De La Rosa. This vineyard and winery is owned and operated by our host and hostess Tim and Patricia Bergqvist, with help from their daughter Sophia and son-in-law. It is 500 meters above sea level and has been in Mrs. Bergqvist's family since the French revolution. The establishment was built in the 1700s and rehabilitated with proceeds of a loan from the World Bank. Tim Bergqvist pointed with pride at the contour terracing of the vineyards which had been accomplished with a big yellow Caterpillar tractor.

Traditionally grapes for Port are grown and pressed in the upper reaches of the Douro Valley and sent to the great wine houses in Oporto for blending and ageing and bottling; but at Quint de la Rosa the entire process takes place on the premises. We had a tour of winery a few days too late to participate in the treading of the grapes, which is still done there. But we did get a good look at the purple-stained granite lagares that look like 20 foot square wading pools. We were told that some of their tonneaus were 200 years old.

Unlike many of the larger wineries, Quinta de la Rosa, which produces between 140 and 180 pipes (7,840 to 10,080) cases per year, declares a vintage on the average of two years out of three. In general, Port vintners declare a vintage only when they consider that year's wine to be particularly good; in other years it is kept for ageing and blending purposes. Quinta de la Rosa is their first label, Quinta de Lamelas is their second. No wood is used in aging their product. Brandy from France for fortification is sold in limited quantities by the local regulating bodies to restrict Port production for each winery. To the extent that they send any wine to the U.S. they ship it to Trader Joe in New York.

We tasted and enjoyed 1975 and 1980 vintage Port, and an experimental white from 1993 grapes -- a rainy year. It was dry, light, aromatic, unusual and good, reminding me of Pinot Grigio. Lunch at the main house of Quinta de la Rosa included gazpacho with almonds, cucumbers with olive oil and garlic, 1993 Quinta de la Rosa red wine with cold roast beef, ratatouille, rice salad and lettuce and olive oil. The wine had a good strong aroma, medium body, light red color, long aftertaste and somewhat similar taste to the white. For dessert there were pickled walnuts, (salty, squishy, black), a soft cheese wheel, mold of quince jam, and special reserve Port -- 1990 vintage late bottled, very smooth. They are also in the business of making excellent olive oil and after tasting what was served at lunch we bought bottle for 1,200 escudos = $7.60.

The bus took us back to Oporto. Supper on our own at a local cafe near hotel was cheese and ham sandwiches and beer.

Tuesday, October 11
Luigi and I had lunch on our own at Churrascaria Central dos Clerigos, a restaurant specializing in Angolan food - rice and feijoa da transmontana for 500 escudos ($3.52) each. It proved to be a casserole of beans, pork, sausage, cabbage, goat(?), etc. and was reminiscent of cassoulet. Super Bock beer was quite good with it. Neither salt nor ground pepper was on our table but there was a gravy boat full of hot pepper sauce and a paintbrush in lieu of spoon; toothpicks were provided in a small green bottle with hole in plastic cap through which to shake them. Proper blue tiles lined the walls up to about 5 feet from the brick red tile floor.

After lunch we boarded the bus to go South. We had a stop at Corgem cork factory where we saw various stages in the process of making corks from sheets of bark through cutting them to appropriate widths, punching out corks, grading corks, branding them and packaging them.

Palace Hotel Bussaco
Mata do Bussaco
3050 Bussaco, Portugal
We arrived here, in the Bairrada demarcated region, about 6:30. The hotel is a former royal hunting lodge, Manueline style, built 1888-1904, with magnificent tile scenes here and there on interior walls, elaborately carved stone and gargoyles on the outside. Although grossly commercialized now, this hotel had charm and fascination, particularly as it is the only hotel I know of that has its own winery in which they make wine with their own grapes and bottle it under the Bussaco label. After a reception with Bairrada sparkling white, we had a dinner starting with melon cocktail with Port wine, fish and shrimps on skewer with piquant sauce and Bussaco Branco Reserva - white, light, very dry, little aroma but decent aftertaste and medium color. This was followed by roast duck with orange Bussaco 1983 tinto -- slight aroma, medium-full body, ruby color, decent aftertaste.

Wednesday, October 12
Palace Hotel Bussaco
After breakfast, Luigi joined Paddy and others for a walk of the grounds. After that those who were interested viewed the cellars of hotel. Impressive numbers of wooden bins, about 1 meter long and 5 or 6 bottles high, full of bottles resting on each other in bins resting on each other. Dust was so thick in some that it made a continuous line from bottle to bottle. We tasted some 1960 and 1988 Bussaco red. The former was quite good and the latter not bad.

During our sandwich lunch at hotel, Luigi found that hers included a bit of broken glass -- a feature that the hotel personnel did not take seriously.

In the afternoon we paid a visit to the Quinta das Carvalhais in the Dao region. This Sogrape winery was built, mostly of stainless steel, in 1991 and employs state-of-the-art gravity feed so that the trucks laden with grapes enter near the top and all flows downhill from there. They plan to produce 2-3 million bottles per year at this plant. Someone referred to Sogrape as the Gallo of Portugal. We were given the opportunity to taste 13 of their wines, mostly red, and did not care for the very cheapest, but the middle and higher priced wines were well fit to drink. Dinner back at the hotel included Canja da Avozinha {chicken and pasta) with Bussaco Tinto, 1988, which had a modest, almost pleasant bouquet, good body and color, moderate aftertaste, but was a little harsh. Then came the gratineed whiting with cream and three glorious roast suckling pigs Bairrada style plus castle potatoes and autumn salad with Bussaco Tinto, 1982, which was better than the 1988, probably because the tannins had diminished. Dessert was chocolate mousse with walnuts and strawberry ice cream bombe; fruits shown on the menu did not appear.

Later, five musicians (2 singers, 2 lutes and 1 guitar) played and sang Fado songs to the Chalone guests sitting on the grand stairway for 45 minutes. The Musicians were students at the local university and wore black robes like the Sandeman logo but without hats. Fado songs are a Portuguese folk tradition, and are always sad. One we heard told of a rider whose horse was killed by a bull so he never rode again.

Thursday, Oct 13, saw us back on the bus headed South. An interesting stop occurred at the University of Coimbra, founded in 1290 by King Dinis. Paddy told us it is the fifth oldest in Europe; we saw the magnificent library with ancient books, beautifully bound, on shelves running up to a very high ceiling; also a nice chapel.

Lunch was on our own in Tomar; Luigi's and mine was at Cafe de Paris -- ham and cheese sandwiches on hard roll for 600 escudos ($4.23) and draft beer. We walked back to the bus stop via a park with an old waterwheel; paddles in the wheel bear jars facing downstream that fill at the bottom of the wheel and, on rising, empty their water into an elevated trough that supplies water for irrigating the park. A circular bandstand bears date 1869.

On the way to Estremoz our bus crossed over a hydro-electric dam and stopped for passenger relief in small village in time to watch herd of goats with herdsman, herd-dog and two apprentice dogs pass from a country road onto the highway. As we proceeded South, greenery was less abundant and the trees were mostly cork and olive. We saw a number of trucks carrying freshly cut slabs of cork bark, and many trees bearing the red or yellow coloring of trunks from which the bark has been removed within the last two or three years.

Pousada da Rainha Santa Isabel
Estremoz, Portugal
When we reached the Village of Estremoz I was reminded of Carcasonne; it is a walled city with moats and drawbridges and crenelated walls. Our day's destination, the Pousada da Rainha Santa Isabel is at the top -- a very good and spacious hotel.

Arnaud and Catherine Warnery from France, (he is the general manager of the Quinta do Carmo winery) were special guests of the Chalone Group at dinner at the Pousada with Julio Bastos, the Portuguese half-owner with Domaines Rothschild (LaFite) of the winery.

The dinner started with Alentejo white wine, codfish cakes, meat coquettes and shrimp rissoles as appetizers. Pheasant mousse, cream of chicken soup, rack of lamb with spiced mint crust followed, and were followed by pears in Port wine for dessert. The wines were Quinta do Carmo 1992 white and Quinta do Carmo Vinho Tinto Alentejo 1988, both very good indeed.

On Friday, October 14 the bus took the group to Quinta do Carmo winery. The main house was built in 18th century by the current king for his mistress. On the ground level the ceilings are about 20 feet high, and the walls are covered to five feet with blue illustrative tiles. The rooms are large and much silver is in evidence. Appurtenant farm-vineyards include one at Calvais near Estremoz and another smaller one farther north. Olives, sheep, wheat, cork and grapes are grown.

One structure at the winery is the olive pressing building. Separate machines crush olives (pits and all) and press and separate the oil and water. The crushed olives are made into cakes with layers separated by mats for pressing. Leftovers are burned as fuel in a boiler for heat to aid in separation.

We were told that Portugal is beginning to emphasize quality over quantity. The winery was built in early 20th century to provide wine to be fermented in clay pots throughout the seasons for hunting ducks and mushrooms. The lagares are of marble, and are used for fermentation as well as for crushing by treading during fermentation. All grapes regardless of variety mixed in the lagares, and it is common for several different varieties of grape to be grown side by side in the same field, producing a "field blend." The Quinta now grows grapes in 94 hectares (232 acres) of vineyards and expects to have 106 hectares (262 acres) in grapes in 1996. M. Warnery plans to add Cabernet, grenache and merlot and to experiment with them and local varieties. The soil and climate at Quinta do Carmo are like those in the south of France, but the soil contains more clay which preserves water. Cuttings for cabernet come from the same supplier as LaFite's.

Now they ferment the must and hold the wine in concrete tanks for a year, then a year in Portuguese oak, separate as to variety, and then blend the wines after malolactic fermentation and before bottling. Then the wine ages in bottles 4 years. They are beginning a process in which fermentation and maturation are accomplished in fifteen days in stainless steel and the wine is clarified with egg whites. The simple lagar system produces less complex wine, and is to be replaced. Most grapes are now stemmed before crushing, but with some varieties of grape, the stems provide taste as effectively as oak, and oak is used only for aging and oxidation.

On tasting the 1993 white we found light color, good aroma, dry, good body and aftertaste. The flavor is very good and improves as it grows warm. The 1992 red had slight aroma, was a little harsh, but had a good taste and needs ageing.

In 1992 6 hectares of white were harvested all at once and hastened through fermentation and bottling despite all advice to contrary from local winemakers and in violation of the recipe from LaFite. Nevertheless the wine turned out to have good aroma and balance. For fun the Quinta entered this in a national white wine competition and got first prize. It won second prize in the red wine competition. The next year, Quinta do Carmo won the first prize for red wine and second for white.

A picnic lunch was provided the group at Quinta do Carvalhais, home of Warnereys. We sat on bales of straw eating from china plates with stainless steel flatware. Served with the lunch were Quinta do Carmo 1993 white and 1989 red. The food included pumpkin soup and sausages (some thin, grilled and spicy, and others large, sliced and mild). There was also potato salad with olive oil and parsley, lettuce salad, beans-and-meat casserole, sweet potatoes, codfish cakes, chicken and mushroom pie, hard rolls, cheese, rice pudding and tarts.

After the picnic we stopped briefly at a marble quarry and then went on to Arraiolos to see rugs being made. There are about a dozen store-shop factories, and the going rate for their rugs is 35,000 escudos ($221) per square meter. In one of the smaller establishments we saw two women sitting in chairs, one rolling yarn from a skein into a ball, the other doing petit point. Many rugs were displayed on walls and in pile on the floor and another heap on a platform in the window. They will make rug to a customer's design in a few months.

Dinner was at a "typical adego" -- a cave-like restaurant with 10 foot ceilings and 7 foot arches, whitewashed, amphoras bilhas (clay jars six feet high and four feet in diameter sized to hold about 1000 liters of wine) long tables, 9 or 10 places per side along wooden benches. The meal started with smoked chorizos (sausages), shredded pork, olives, tomato and lettuce salad, small loaves of bread, cheese, and red and white wine in orange pottery pitchers that made it hard to tell which was which until you poured it. The main course included grilled pork ribs, fried potatoes, carrots and cauliflower. Dessert comprised a compote of fruit -- grapes, orange, banana, melon, apple, etc. and roast chestnuts served with eau de vie. Fado music again. A 12-string lute and guitar accompanied the singer who rhymed virginale with oil minerale and dado with guitaro.

During the course of the meal, Bob Beck, one of the other members of the tour, told me the recipe for Portobello-burgers: grill the cap slightly and put it in a bun with provolone, basil, tomato and grill again.

Saturday, October 15
As we left the hotel, Paddy announced that the manager said ours was the last bus that would be allowed in the narrow, twisting, cobblestone streets of Estremoz. A wise decision by the authorities, I was glad it came too late to make us walk up to the hotel with our baggage. We stopped at the local market -- usual stuff, including live puppies and lots of yellow-eyed beans and black-eyed peas in adjacent bowls staring at each other. One booth contained a huge bowl of boiling fat into which a man coiled batter extruded from shoulder-powered pastry tube. When the batter solidified, using a pair of rapiers, the man flipped the coil over and continued frying it until it was uniform brown, then he lifted it onto a cutting board where his partner cut and sold lengths to customers.

Stopping at Evora we saw a genuine Roman temple; it needs some work. The bottom layer was rubble with hewn stone above, the next layer appeared to be factory seconds, then more hewn stones, Corinthian columns, no roof and one end gone. The cathedral had nice Romanesque arches. Many winding, rolling, cobblestone streets are well supplied with souvenir stores. Atelier Teoartis-galeria, Rua 5 De Outubro, 78-1.o, Apartado 242, P-7003 Evora Codex, Telephone: 351-66-22736 makes tiles to order, both as to design and size; it is located above a ground floor shop.

Very good Portuguese lunch at Fialho Restaurant in Evora.

We were delayed on the bridge over the Tagus River on the way to Lisbon by natives protesting a many fold increase in tolls by driving very slowly.

Hotel Ritz Inter-Continental
Rua Rodrigo da Afonseca, 88
1093 Lisbon, Portugal
Telephone 011 351 1 69 20 20
Supper for Luigi and me consisted of apples and banana taken from our complimentary basket in the Estremoz hotel room.

On Sunday, October 16, we had a bus tour, first to St. George's Castle on a prominent hilltop with a splendid great view and many bonsai-looking olive trees, tortuously gnarled with few live branches; then to a plaza near the waterfront where we saw the changing of the guard -- dark blue uniforms, black boots, silver colored spurs, white Sam Browne belts, black helmets with silver or gold trim -- middle aged Portuguese trying to resemble young Prussians. We visited the nearby Museum of Coaches -- two large rooms with royal coaches and sedan chairs. Lots of elaborate gold leaf, and none of it was polished recently.

With lunch on our own, Luigi and I walked out looking for a place to eat and came across Restaurant Bela Ipanema on Avenida Libertad. We had fresh, good yeasty rolls or loaves, tasty orange sardine paste in small plastic tub with foil lid, and individual firm white cheeses of which the rind alone serves as a wrapper, with a sticker for identification. The main course was grilled swordfish for Luigi and grilled cod for me; both with lots of olive oil and olives and boiled potatoes. A very pleasant retired doctor and wife from Melbourne, Australia, sat at the next table, and we got into a conversation that lasted until 3:45. They had house white wine; our red house wine was better.

Our farewell dinner, in the lower level Grille Room at the hotel, was preceded by Cockburn Porto Dry Tang white Port -- Medium dry, heavy and good. Then we were served an Amuse-Bouche comprising small, curled pieces of pike in wonderful tomato butter etc. sauce with Quinta de Sai Bento 1985 white wine -- good aroma, light, long aftertaste, medium color. Good. The fish course was cold filet of red snapper in tomato fondue -- cold fish in gazpacho-like sauce. With it and the next course our wine was Grande Ferreirinha 1982, a red with moderate aroma, full body, good aftertaste and some tannin. Next came deer medallions with cinnamon sauce -- thin layers, in a rich sauce with broccoli, carrots, potatoes and zucchini. Then there was Serra Cheese, cream colored, soft with a robust flavor and very good with the highly satisfactory Calem Quinta da Foz Vintage Port, 1980. Fresh fruit in puff pastry with raspberry sauce -- strawberries, kiwi, melon and whipped cream -- finished the meal.

The next day was Monday. Some of the group went on to Madeira, others elsewhere. Luigi, Max, Karen and I took a taxi to the airport for the flight back to that wistful world that exists between Chalone trips.

Manly W. Mumford