Learning to love cork in the Alentejo


For the background to this Alentejo trip, see The Alentejo on a plate. See also Richard's article on the cork empire and the accompanying video on how corks are made.

You don’t notice them at first. Quiet hoary smudges on that wide horizon – always there but almost lost in the wideness of it all. It was the violent slash of blood red that caught my eye. A number painted by each one.

This, I found out, was a cork tree – Quercus suber – that had recently been harvested. The number indicated the last year the tree had...