Last week I was honoured, quite literally, by Portugal. At an early evening reception in his beautiful
house in Belgrave Square, the Portuguese ambassador to London João de Vallera
made me a Comendador da Ordem do Mérito Empresarial (Classe do Mérito Agricola),
bestowing on me a Portuguese Order of Merit.
As my children pointed out, this is a much more handsome honour than my British
OBE, no fewer than four glittering green
and white formulations of it being presented to me in a large, gold-embossed
dark green leather case.
But best of all was the
party that was given for the handover, to which I was allowed to invite all my
family, some close friends and the JancisRobinson.com team. We all had a lovely
time, not least because some fine Portuguese wine was served. There was some Quinta do Vallado Douro red
from the ambassador’s own cellar. As he explained, it was a torna viagem wine that had crossed the
Atlantic twice, having previously lain in his cellar in Washington during his
last posting. We also had some Aliança
white fizz, Luis Pato’s pink fizz, some port (Johnny Symington was there) and
some delicious pale, dry Barbeito Madeira brought by Danny Cameron of importers
I felt extremely
unworthy of the honour – not least in view of Julia’s recent total immersion in
Portuguese wine – but at least it has spurred me on to get publishing the
hundreds of tasting notes she took while selecting her top 50 Portuguese
wines. See her reviews of the
wines of the Algarve.
It would seem that for every such honour there is an
instigator and I believe the chief instigator in this case was the Portuguese
wine fanatic resident in Düsseldorf, Carlos Quintas pictured here.
Carlos. We all had a lovely time.