To Santarém for the Revista de Vinhos Melhores do Ano dinner. I take the train from Portalegre. The single track railway crosses the northern Alentejo plain then snakes alongside the Tagus. I have to change trains at Entroncamento (Portugal’s answer to England’s Crewe). The journey takes me takes nearly three hours but costs only €9! Revista de Vinhos is Portugal’s leading wine magazine and the melhores do ano is like the Decanter World Wine Awards. Over 800 people assemble in Santarém for a speech given by the Mister of Agriculture (which no one seems to listen to) followed by numerous prizes and awards. There is much chatter and speculation about who will win the wine maker of the year award. Could it be that we will win ‘revelation of the year’? In the end Rui and I are both disappointed but there is good news for Portalegre. Tomba Lobos wines the award for best Portuguese restaurant.
19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)
17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)
15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)
13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)
10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)
8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)
Below 8 Faulty