In the distance, a decadent warehouse is engulfed by the lush green plethora of fauna that makes up the Quinta da Aveleda’s wine estate. Victor, our guide and green wine expert, meticulously inserts the rusted brass key into the wagon size dark oak doors, leaving the thick spider webs untouched. The lock sounds three turns before we are hushed inside and immediately my nostrils are immersed by the dense pomace brandy vapours. As if I was entering a time box, the smell a bouquet of wood, dried fruits, nuts and honey has been brewed over the years with mould, humid air of this constantly closed up environment.
It takes a few seconds for my pupils to adjust to the cave like environment, where Adega Velha, Portugal’s finest grape brandy is gently aged in rows of dated oak barrels along a narrow central corridor. “1946, 1903, 1875… our piece de resistance” says Victor. The alcohol saturated air acts like an appetite opening aperitif, and after an afternoon of visiting wineries, I am more than ready for the estate’s own cheese, green wine and brandy tasting that is waiting at the end of the visit.