I have bought a mountain bike to get myself speedily from one end of the vineyard to the other. It will be particularly useful during vintage. I recall the difficulties that I had trying to buy a bicycle in Portugal when I was a teenager in the late 1970s. This was post-revolutionary era of strict import controls when the only bicycles that were available were second hand and had to carry local registration plates. The lack of availability together with the bureaucracy forced me to give up my quest and I continued to walk or take the sporadic bus service instead. Now a bicycle can be bought off the peg (literally) from the local supermarket for as little as €49; symbolic of how much Portugal (and the world) has changed over the past three decades. My problem today was that my new bicycle wouldn’t fit in the back of the car so I rode the 6km or so back uphill to the Quinta along the network of old walled azinhagas (lanes). Half abandoned and used only by nomadic shepherds and clanging herds of sheep and goats, these lanes belong to another era that has almost drawn to a close. There is little interest in walking as a pastime in Portugal and as people have left the land the azinhagas with named after saints and animals are rapidly becoming overgrown and are now, in places, impassable. The local fregusesia (parish council) has helpfully sign-posted some but I doubt this will be enough to save them. Perhaps my new bicycle might set a trend.
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