Monday, March 21, 2011

What were you thinking Maria João de Almeida?

 Last week I attended the 1ST INTERNATIONAL WINE MEETING AND TASTING in Celorico da Beira in Portugal.
The event was organized by Maria João de Almeida and she paid for my expenses to attend the event (flights, hotels and meals).

People who follow me on the “blogsphere” are familiar with my way of just saying positive things about the events in which I participate. I was going to write about the good things that happened during the event as I normally do, such as the good presentations by some Portuguese speakers like Luis Lopes, Antonio Amorin, Andre Ribeirinho, Dirk Niepoort and Luis Pato; and also about the very interesting presentations of the international speakers (Jancis Robinson, MW – Tim Atkin, MW – Jamie Goode – Sarah Ahmed), but then, on the last day of the event, something really bizarre happened: We were taken to a place where a small group of sommeliers (not really, but according to the organization they were) was going to taste 40 fortified wines - “a selection of top wine, including some rarities, divided by the styles - Porto (Vintage and Tawnies), Madeiras e Moscatéis. “The aim is to show the great capacity of aging of these wines” - and it turned to be total disaster. Not for the tasters of course, who had the opportunity to taste some magnificent old wines, but for some journalists were simply in disbelief that they were taken there, but that they couldn’t actually taste the wines...

So, for the first time, I’m forced to post something negative about an event in which I participated. It makes me feel even worse about it, because it’s going to be about an event that took place in a country that I love and that has been so kind to me. So, before I start to go into more detail on what happened last Saturday, I would like to apologize to all my Portuguese friends for talking about these facts.

I’ll make of this article an open letter to Maria João de Almeida, who I hope will come here to answer the questions and tell us her side of the story (and I really hope there is another side to this story).

  • What were you thinking Maria João de Almeida when you took us to Pousada de Linhares da Beira if we were not going to participate at the tasting? Why weren’t we taken to Celorico da Beira where 46 producers were waiting for us? Some producers mentioned that they were there for over two hours standing like fools with almost nobody to taste their wines!

  • What were you thinking Maria João de Almeida when you offered us to go to a paraglide simulator? We were all wine professionals there. We are not tourists and time is one of our most precious assets. If we want to spend time doing something that is not related to wine, we want to do it with our families and friends. And again, why do it where the tasting was taking place? You were really trying to make us see the fabulous wines that were being tasted and that we couldn’t? Another type of “simulator experience”?

  • What were you thinking Maria João de Almeida when you exposed such great wine personalities to such an embarrassment? Hendrik Thoma (Master Sommelier from Germany) offered to Ilkka Siren (blogger from Finland) to share his glasses and table with him... Jamie Goode said on twitter when I asked him about having us there for the tasting: “it was terrible of them - I felt embarrassed”

  • What were you thinking Maria João de Almeida when you tried to convince us that we had misunderstood you? One person can get it wrong... I could have got it wrong... But an entire group of people? I’m a speck of sand in the wine industry, but when you tried to explain to very renowned journalists - Per Karlsson and Angela Reddin (to name only two among many) - that the tasting was only for the “famous sommeliers”... Don’t you think you were offending them?

  • What were you thinking Maria João de Almeida when you could clearly see that you had a bunch of dissatisfied journalists in front of you? Didn’t you consider acknowledging that you had made a mistake and that the damage could be minimized if you asked for help? Dirk Niepoort was there and he told me that he would gladly help (by bringing his wines) if you had asked him. Would that solve the problem? Probably not, but at least people would see that an effort was being made to mitigate the disaster. Instead, you kept saying that you didn’t have enough wines for all of us... How Portuguese is that? I’ve been to Portugal a few times and I can certainly say that the Portuguese are arguably the best hosts of the planet! The will take you to their houses, offer you their best wines and make you feel like you are really welcome in their homes. The problem is: I know it because I’ve been there before, but what about the journalists that were there for the first time? What kind of impression were you giving them? Not a good one I guarantee you.
I was debating with a few people if this should be made public or not. Mostly for fear that this tragedy being brought to light could damage the image of Portugal and its wines. However, I believe that the Portuguese have already proven that they can put together very well organized and professional events. ViniPortugal (who had nothing to do with this one in Celorico) had organized an amazing event in Oporto in December and I think that this fact in itself proves that when things are done properly, they become a huge success.

I have a huge interest (both personal and professional) in the success of Portugal and I’ll keep working hard to promote the amazing quality of the Portuguese wines. Again, my apologies to everybody in the Portuguese wine industry (many of them my personal friends), but I believe that Maria João de Almeida has done a great disservice to Portugal and its wines and (hoping that something like this doesn’t happen again in the future) I had to make this horrible experience public.

Please feel free to express your opinion. Let’s make something good out of this!

Luiz Alberto
One of the pillars of TheWineHub is Wine Tourism. Whether you are a wine maker, or a wine drinker, we all enjoy having discoveries...
TheWineHub exists to help you with that.  


Maria João de Almeida said...

Luiz Alberto

As a journalist I covered many historical wine tasting without participating in them. That’s why I thought it would be interesting to all the journalists to attend the press conference about it.

I am very sorry you came to Portugal as a journalist, was received with all the kindness, education and professionalism and could not even interpret the press release’s that the agency Best Vintage sent to you, as well as to all the other national and international journalists. In the first press you received (on the 11th of January, at 5.34 pm), the information was that we had 40 fortified wines to be tasted by reputable international sommeliers. In the second press (you received on the 14th of February, at 6.04 pm), that information was repeated, saying the names of the participants. In the book of the Congress you also had the opportunity to confirm this information for the third time. Please review the information above, in the next comments.

On the other hand, about the Linhares tour, maybe you are not used to it, but it is not strange at all that in this kind of event everyone is invited to do this kind of tour to relax and meet the region.

Finally, I regret the fact that you're expressing so inelegant.

Again, thank you for your presence.

Maria João de Almeida

Maria João de Almeida said...

PRESS 2 (14th February 2011)


40 old and rare wines in unique tasting
The 1st International Wine Meeting and Tasting, that is going to happen on 17th, 18th and
19th of March, will be attended by world renowed sommeliers for a unique fortified wine
The initiative, schedule for the last day of the event, 19th of March, will take place at Pousada
de Linhares (Linhares da Beira), from 9am to 1pm. In this tasting will be present 40 fortified
wines, a selection of top, including some rarities, divided by the styles of wine - Porto (Vintage
and Tawnies), Madeiras e Moscatéis. The aim is to show the great capacity of aging of these
The organization of 1st International Wine Meeting and Tasting have the great pleasure to
confirm the presence of 12 prestigious international sommeliers, - Arnaud Vallet, Christina
Fischer, Cristina Alcalá, Dirceu Viana (Master of Wine), Eric Boschman (Master of Wine), Eric
Duret, Hendrik Thoma (Master Sommelier), Luca Gardini, Martijn Verkerk, Matthieu Longuère
(Master Sommelier), Paolo Basso e William Wouters. In the tasting will also attend the British
critics and journalists Sarah Ahmed, Jamie Goode and Tim Atkin, speakers at the 1st
International Wine Meeting and Tasting, who were interested to participate in this unique
The presentation of the tasting will be in charge of Bento Amaral (Head of the Board of the
Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto). The Wine Service will be the responsibility of Rodolfo
Tristão (Escola Superior de Turismo do Estoril Professor), that with their best students would
treat all the logistics for an event of this nature.
Press Release – 14th of February 2011
In this action, the 1st International Wine Meeting and Tasting also has the support of Schott
Zwiesel to provide the material for the tasting, including temperature-controlled cellars,
decanters, spittons and the more suitable glasses for the tasting.

Per and Britt, BKWine said...

I did not see the comment from MJA before writing mine.

Apparently all visiting journalists, Luiz, me and everyone else who stood stunned watching the twelve seats for the tasting, were incapable of correctly reading the information about the “historical” tasting.

It is clear from the comment that we really should have known better!

(In parenthesis, I can add that the organisation staff told me before the event that the Saturday tasting was really a great reason to stay the one day extra that the Saturday meant!)

And apparently, Luiz, you are not a very good writer, writing so inelegantly, and you do not quite know what it is you need to do your work.


Maria João de Almeida said...


1st International Wine Meeting and Tasting

Our country will welcome the 1st Internatinal Wine Meeting and Tasting organized by and with the colaboration of Associação Portuguesa
de Management (APM), Câmara Municipal de Celorico da Beira, Turismo da Serra da Estrela and
Associação das Aldeias Históricas de Portugal, which will have place next March, 17th, 18th and
19th, at Celorico da Beira. During this meeting the congress speakers will be invited to speak about
«Portuguese Wines - New Challenges and Strategies».
March 17th and 18th
«Portuguese Wine Congress – New Challenges and Strategies», included in the 1st International
Wine Meeting and Tasting, will have the pleasure to welcome, among many others, the most
prestigious british wine writers: Jancis Robinson and Tim Atkin (both Master of Wine); Sarah
Ahmed and Jamie Goode. No one is a better specialist than these persons to give the right
answer to the following questions: How can portuguese wine win international market? Which are
the best strategies? Which kind of promoting actions will be the right one? How can tourism and
gastronomy help in our wine promotion?
These and other important questions will due answered and discussed durind two days (17 and
18), where will be also present important and leading personalities connected to wine sector and
national tourism.
March 19th
This same day, from 9am to 7pm, international welknown sommeliers will taste 40 fortified wines,
from a judicious selection of top wines and some rareties, among them Portos (Vintage and
Tawnies), Madeiras and Moscatéis. All along the day (from 9am to 7pm) and at the same time, it
will be possible to visit a Wine Show from different national regions and as well, regional products
from Serra da Estrela (mainly Serra Cheese, which is the most important product of this region).
The Wine Show is opened to journalists, sommeliers and international congressmen invited to this
event, as well as all the public. and are pleased to have Revista de Vinhos
colaboration as Media Partner, a fundamental partner to the divulgation of this event, through the
magazine and site.
To obtain more information about the 1st International Wine Meeting and Tasting please access:
– www.revistadevinhos.iol.p t

Maria João de Almeida said...


You received the same documents, the first press at (11th of january at, 16.57 pm) and the second one on the 14th February at 6.04 pm.
The story that you tell was not like that and, to finish, my staff didn't gave you that information about Saturday...

Per and Britt, BKWine said...

Comments seem to come in a strange order here. I will repost my original comment next.

Ray O'Connor said...


Don't you think you need to reconsider what a 'tragedy and 'disaster' really are in light of what has happened in the world around the same time as your trip.


John O'Reilley said...

Dear Maria João,
If you expect to be a reputed wine writer you should be careful with your words and acts. People who love wine could think that a bad spirit is like bad grapes... unfit for consumption.

Per and Britt, BKWine said...

I've tried twice to publish my original comment here, but it does not show.

Perhaps it was too long. I will try to publish it again in two parts...

Per and Britt, BKWine said...

Part 1:

It pains me very much to say this, because i love the wines of Portugal and the Portuguese wine regions that I have visited. I could wish for nothing better than an opportunity to write something positive that would entice more people to taste Portuguese wines and to come to Portugal.

But I will say it here anyway.

It has to be said.

The total failure of the "historic" wine tasting that Luiz talks about was just the tip of the iceberg. (It will certainly go down in history as the biggest insult to wine writers.) A reflection of the whole.

The rest of the event was not much better: the organisation was virtually non existent. The contents were of not much real interest to visiting journalists.

It failed to give me much good new material to publish.

(No, I don't come home empty-handed; I do have some good info. But that was thanks to individual initiatives (of me and others) that were possible to do in spite of the organisation.)

It failed show Portuguese wines in a favourable light.

It failed to show case the region, the wine and the food of Beira Interior, which apparently was one of the objectives.

When I talked to Maria Joao de Almeida about this she tells me:

- “Perhaps you should check your spam folder. We have sent out information about this tasting and the organisation to you by mail”

So, I am so incompetent that I don't read my email? And so is every other visiting journalist?

- “Oh, you know, it is very difficult to organise this kind of event, have you ever done any such thing?”

As a matter of fact I have – my business (apart from journalism) is to organise wine travel and events. I have also organised three international wine fairs, so yes, I do know what it takes to do it. And if anyone who worked for me was in charge of a project and it failed so dismally as this they would be fired on the spot.

[Part 2 to follow]

Cortes de Cima said...

To Luiz, Per, and all the other intl. journalists who attended the recent Celorico conference,
I have been in contact with many of the Portuguese winemakers who participated in last week's event, and can only confirm that everyone I have talked to, share a common feeling of dismay, shame, and sorrow of how such an event, for all it's good intentions and possible positive outcome, has failed and even backfired.
We were honored to receive you here - such a lineup of intl journalists, bloggers, sommeliers - and strived to leave all of you only with the best opinion of our wines and country. Instead, and due to a very poorly organized event lacking in focus, planning and purpose, the opposite has been achieved! What a shame!
On behalf of Dirk Niepoort, Alvaro Castro, Vitor Gomes, and many other winemakers, we offer our sincere and humble apologies for having brought you all the way to Portugal, and not having given you a better experience of our lovely country and great wines. We beseech you to give us another chance, to visit us again when that opportunity arrives, so we can make amends and share with you some of the great vinous treasures that Portugal has to offer. We are sincerely sorry.

Kathryn Ayres Rouse said...

This is a very sad story and one that really does not reflect the warmth and genuine hospitality of the Portuguese. I run a PR & events company in the Algarve and we do encounter some clients (none of whom we have taken on I hasten to add!) who simply do not understand the power of the press. They see press visits as glorified holidays, not working time away from family and offices. The paraglider story is a strong example of how misunderstood this group appears to have been. Although not involved AT ALL with the organisation, I do know many of the wine companies here and know they will have been very upset to give any negative impact on Portuguese wines as a whole.

So if any of the journalists want to come and experience our true hospitality, amazing wines and genuine warmth, please let us know and we will see how we are able to help.

Kathryn Ayres-Rouse. Yellow Kite Luxury Lifestyle Marketing & PR.

Luiz Alberto, #winelover said...

@ Ray O'Connor: you bring an interesting point. However, it will lead us to a philosophical discussion that has nothing to do with the topic.
I'll kindly ask you to write me an e-mail luiz.alberto at
and we will continue this conversation there.

Per and Britt, BKWine said...

My full comment refuses to publish on this blog...??

You can read it here: An experience in how not to market Portuguese wines: the 1st International Wine Meeting and Tasting (in Portugal)

Ricardo Oliveira said...

I am a semi-anonymous Portuguese, working outside the wine industry (actually, technology) and also a Portuguese Wine Blogger (whatever that means) which had access to your post. I didn't attend this event, and I can't, therefore, comment on the specific details agreed on prior or during the event, or anything else related to the event.

I can, however, comment on one important fact which is publicly available: the way this issue was addressed in this post by the organization. We are taught from early years to know how to receive Guests, a knowledge which goes all the way up to our businesses and the usual daily life. That's one of the reasons we are known as an important Tourism destination, as well as by our climate, geography, History and our food (which includes our wines).
(to be continued...)

Luiz Alberto, #winelover said...

@MJA - It's unbelievable that you are still in denial.
You keep saying that it is my fault that "I didn't interpret the press release", when it has nothing to do with it.
You created an unimaginable situation of discomfort for everyone present.
Have you asked Jamie Goode why he said on twitter “it was terrible of them - I felt embarrassed” when I asked him about having us there for the tasting?
Have you seen the comments from other Portuguese people who are feeling very sorry for the "awkwardness" that was created?
Here are a couple of examples:
"Cortes de Cima: An open message to intl wine journalists - #encontro11- last week's Celorico wine conference, left many of the visitors rightfully grumbling about an event which was unfortunately and shamefully poorly organized. We would like to apologize to Luiz A. G. Alberto, Per Karlsson, Tim Atkin, Jancis Robinson, Jamie Goode and Sarah Ahmed"
"Vitor Mendes: On my behalf and on behalf of Quinta de Gomariz we also apologize for all this bad promotion of Portugal and its wines and wineries. I'm pretty sure that the international journalists who came to Celorico, will have other great possibilities of having a real look on the reality of Portugal. From our side it was a big effort to be there on Saturday, not having any return from our investment..."
Many other Portuguese people are apologizing in private to me for what happened.
Isn't it time for you to reconsider your position that everybody else is wrong and you're the only one who is right?

Ricardo Oliveira said...

We (usually...) have common sense, dealing with the ins and outs, pros and cons of receiving Guests - ie., we reveive Guests, take good care of them, and deal with the issues that may arise in a swift and prompt manner. The customer is always right, even if he isn't.

This is exactly what hasn't happened in this post, and dazzles me the way your insight was labeled "inelegant". I wasn't aware that a complaint, or an outburst, had to be elegant - and yours, in fact, is elegant, starting from the way you try to separate this problem with the events we usually host.

I am ashamed as a Portuguese, as a Wine Lover and as a Portuguese Entrepreneur by the way this is being addressed. Please accept the apologies of an unknown Portuguese, who knows we, as a Country, know better than this. We really know how to recognise our problems, apologise and deal with them the best we can.

Best of regards,

PS: I can't stress enough the initial message - my comment is related to the way your complaint was handled by the organization, and nothing else (which is completely outside my knowledge).

Vitor Mendes said...

I'm just a PR and wine salesman, but I sure have to give my opinion here... Apologizing is always something very hard to do, as we all know. But, professionaly, when you do not achieve your goals you have some ways of changing things. One of them is to ask for another chance to prove yourself and all the others that you are perfectly capable of doing better! This is my advice to MJA, which I don't know personally. I was there just for the last day, after one week of hard thinking if Quinta de Gomariz should be there to exhibit their wines. At the last minute, we decided to go after having a very positive and affirmative answer to one of the top questions on our minds... who will attend the general tasting on saturday? The answer was "all the attendants from the conference including the major speakers". After this answer, and having Vinho.TV behind the organization we decided to go, althoug the price was really too damn high! And when you make this kind of effort, you need some return... I had to justify to the general manager what was the return of this financial effort... I have to say that my final report to him was just a small paragraph, with 3 or 4 names of some nice journalists that were at the Gimnodesportivo only because (now I know) they were ostracized at the fortified wine tasting... well, this is not such a good thing to hear when you are receiving international journalists, that travel a lot and this is their usual job...
Anyway, I don't want to say much more than this. I hope that these and other international journalists and professionals will disregard this particular event as an example of portuguese organization, and we are very interested in having them here again in a near future to show them how things are done around here!
Finally to MJA, and this is just an humble advice. Take a close look at the conclusions of this event, write down what went wrong and I'm pretty sure that next time we'll have a much better event! I´m sincerely open to cooperate and help you and your team to make better next time...

Onirovins said...

Good old PR, cultivating ostracism in the benefit of alignment and control.
Regardless, the story I look forward to read about is how the event helped achieving the real aims of the wine meeting and tasting in Portugal - to provide answers and insights about the challenges and strategies for Portuguese wine trade.
Everything else will be a learning experience, but for some, it will increase the odds that reputed writers such as Luiz will not be taking part of unknown events with the good will demosntrated.

Wine Pleasures said...

Seen tweets about this so finally dropped in to see what the fuss is all about.

Astonished that this has gone public.Just address the issues to the organiser don't slag people off in public it won't get you any friends. Agree with Victor when he says:

Finally to MJA, and this is just an humble advice. Take a close look at the conclusions of this event, write down what went wrong and I'm pretty sure that next time we'll have a much better event! I´m sincerely open to cooperate and help you and your team to make better next time...

Per and Britt, BKWine said...

@ Wine Pleasures

"Address the issues to the organiser", was exactly was I did. I was told off, told I was incompetent and told I was insulting the organisation.

Read about it here in what is a comment to this post but did not stick:

What is important to remember though is that this "historic" tasting was just the tip of the iceberg.

Reducing the whole issue to "a group of journalists who have not understood the information they have received", as Maria João de Almeida apparently does on Facebook, is false.

It was the whole conference that was the problem, both form (organisation, management), and contents.

If you want to get involved in that, good luck.


Andre Ribeirinho said...

I just published my comments on what happened in Celorico.

Luiz Alberto, #winelover said...

@ wine pleasures

I also agree with Victor and that's why I finished my article with "Let's make some positive out of this".
I only made this public because the organizer (MJA -, who I addressed in person), is denying that there is a problem and put the blame on me (and other journalists) for not being able to understand the program.
This is what I told her: "People make mistakes and things go wrong... this is the nature of life and we all understand that. However, on the day of the tasting you were disrespectful to many people and that’s why I went public with this. The Portuguese are wonderful people and you were so “unportuguese” in the sense that you didn’t even try to fix the problem, but rather tried to blame it on us for not understanding what you were trying to do."

Also, you would be surprised how many new friends I made with this article. Dozens of people in the Portuguese wine industry sent me notes expressing their support. Many of them even apologizing for what happened in their country...

I know how you feel Anthony. Please correct if I'm wrong, but you organize events yourself... would it possibly explain your preference for keeping things private?

Also, you're only the second person saying that making it public was not positive. Interesting enough, neither one of you are Portuguese...

Luiz Alberto, #winelover said...

MJA just posted her "statement" about what happened in Portugal last week:
"The organization of the 1st International Meeting and Tasting ( Turismo da Serra da Estrela, Câmara Municipal de Celorico da Beira e a APM – Associação Portuguesa de Management DRS) regrets everything that has been written in recent days on the issue of fortified wines Tasting, and regrets even more that many people who doesn’t know us or did not participate at the event giving opinions about facts they do not know.
In order to restore the truth and to make it clear, national and international journalists never were invited to participate at the fortified wine tasting. Two press releases were sent earlier this year (on January and February): the first to explain that there would be a fortified wine tasting on March 19th with international sommeliers, and the second completed with the names of the participants. Not enough, the book of the congress had the same information repeated at the end. The only participants who were not sommeliers were international speakers Sarah Ahmed, Tim Atkin and Jamie Goode who were invited to participate in the wine tasting. The national and international journalists were invited to participate at a press conference where information would be revealed about the wines in the competition, because naively I thought it was interesting to them to be present. Instead, I found a true manifestation of discontent on the part of several journalists who wanted to stay inside the tasting room where they were never told to participate.
I regret that journalists / bloggers use their «power» to attack someone just because they wanted to participate in a historical tasting to which they were not been invited!
I wonder how important are these journalists to give such nasty opinions just because they feel themselves offended by not participating in a wine tasting? Which "disaster” is this that makes the whole event into question? What credibility do we have to give to such people who do not know us, did not attend the event, and speak in the name of others without their consent? Finally, what importance should the producers give to this kind of communicators?
I must also say that I also received very positive reviews about the Congress, not only from national and international speakers, but also from sommeliers, winemakers and producers, not to mention the international journalists who also sent me e-mails thanking for having been invited. I do not recall seeing an event in Portugal that has assembled such important personalities in the sector to discuss key topics. Do we need to improve? Yes we do, certainly, but you can never please everyone, especially those who are prepared to throw the first stone.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who believed and participated at the event, thank those who supported me in this moment of tension and inform that we will continue to organize events within the wine sector, and we are now preparing the 2nd International Meeting and Tasting.

Maria João de Almeida"

Fabio (Vinos Ambiz) said...

Like Ricardo Oliveira above, I also didn't attend this event, and can't, therefore, comment on the specific details (I'm not even Portuguese, though I am in the wine world).
I'd just like to say that, 1)irrespective of who is right and who is wrong (if such a thing is possible in this case) it's good go public with this sort of thing, because everyone (not just the direct participants) can learn from mistakes and act accoridngly in the future; and 2) I hope the exchanges I'm seeing on several blogs involved don't degenerate into slagging matches. I know it's hard, when emotions are high, but things really can be learnt by both parties in such disputes.

Per and Britt, BKWine said...

I feel I have been specifically addressed in Maria Joao de Almeidas comments. I think I've had the honour to be named Prima Donna. So I have unfortunately felt obliged to respond.

You can read my response to her "communication" here:

How to dig a deeper and deeper hole. Or: "A Prima Donna shouts too loud"? - A Portuguese challenge

-Per K.

Luiz Alberto, #winelover said...

Maria João, I was hoping you would come here to answer my questions, apologize (not to me, but for disservice you provided to the Portuguese wine industry) and try to make something good out of the mess that you created.
Instead, you keep attacking the journalists (I received the e-mail with your "statement" yesterday) and trying to prove that you are right and the rest of the world is wrong.
As I said yesterday on Facebook to Andrea Smith and Andre Ribeirinho: "Andrea - Andre, I just want to add that a sincere "I'm sorry" goes a long way. If MJA had apologized for the confusion right there (rather than trying to blame people for not understanding the program), I'm pretty sure we would all be talking about the great wines of Portugal by now..."
You are running out of time...

Anonymous said...

I have the answer for this...
Obama is to blame!
I'm positive he has something to do with the organisation of this event! (soon to be reported by FOX news) :)

Roy Hersh said...

It is truly amazing to me that this was handled so poorly. The response is horrendous and the myopia involved, almost comical, if it wasn't so sad.

I felt awful that I never even received an invite, considering my full time career entails writing (600+ pages a year) about Portuguese wine and bringing tourists to Portugal to explore the wine regions and experience the great depth of wines produced there.

After reading this humble post by Luiz Alberto, it is clear that I didn't miss a thing afterall, but the fact that FTLOP was ignored still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

It is clear the "organizers" simply don't get it!

Roy Hersh

Luiz Alberto, #winelover said...


Having the support of a person so respected in the wine world means a lot to me.

And you're absolutely right. Her response is even worse than the problem that she caused in the first place. Unbelievable.

When is your next trip to Portugal? I know it will leave a wonderful taste in the mouth of the lucky ones joining you...

Thank you so much again!

Unknown said...

What comments so silly. You do not even know how to handle the glass.

Luiz Alberto, #winelover said...

I'm not sure how it can be relevant to our discussion... But based on the comments that you deleted, I'm pretty sure you will be able to develop a very interesting theory.
Would you care to share?

Unknown said...

I am not available to comment on blogs without interest, with reduced visualization that is used solely by your 32 friends,


Luiz Alberto, #winelover said...

I'm totally open to discussions and people are free to express their opinions here in my blog.
However, if you have something to say, please use an identity.
If you post your comment anonymously, it will be removed.
Thanks for understanding.

Unknown said...

I agree. You should delete comments that are against your opinion. Because that is what you usually does.


Luiz Alberto, #winelover said...

I'm open to all opinions... just make them relevant to the topic of the discussion.

Niklas Jörgensen said...

Sorry Luiz for going a bit OT but I just need to give some cred to Roy Hersh and his work. FTLOP is the place to be on the internet for many of us who loves the fortified wines of Portugal, Port and Madeira mainly. Just keep up your fantastic work - you're one of the stars when it comes to International Portuguese wine writing!

Not playing in your league I still reckon the feeling; how much do one have to convince others of one's knowledge in a topic, to be considered?



Luiz Alberto, #winelover said...

Thank you for posting this comment. It's very relevant to the discussion!
Roy has arguably the most breadth and depth when it comes to fortified Portuguese wines and, certainly, he is the person who writes the most about it in the United States.
Not having him invited to the "historic tasting" of fortified wines shows a total lack of understanding of the wine industry by the organization of the event.

Per and Britt, BKWine said...

Luiz, you know I share your amazement of the Saturday tasting. I have commented on it previously here: An experience in how not to market Portuguese wines: the 1st International Wine Meeting and Tasting (in Portugal)

But in addition, I have also expressed much concern of the whole event: the organisation and management (as well as the conference contents) - the whole usefulness of it for visitors and for wine producers.

You can read more about these concerns in my blog post here: on the 1º Encontro e Prova Internacional de Vinho / 1st International Wine Meeting and Tasting in Portugal.

I just happened to look at the map today and saw clearly another very strange thing that the organisers had done: the first three nights we were staying at a hotel in Vila Ruiva - about half an hour's drive away from the conference, towards Porto. We were bussed back and forth each day.

Late on the Friday night at dinner we were told to pack our bags for the following morning because we were to check out in the morning and change hotels for the last night. (The organisers had given us no info on lodging in advance so we knew nothing about it beforehand.) We were moved from Vila Ruiva to Trancoso.

It turns out that Trancoso is half an hour's drive in the wrong direction - up in the mountains, away from Porto, away from Celorico where the conference was.

So the last night the organisers put us up in a hotel even further away than Celorico, which means that we had essentially one additional hour of transport to get to Porto. People had morning flights to catch and needed to get to the airport. And that night we are moved away even further. Not very clever. (No surprise we almost missed our flights.)

What was the point?

Had money been extracted from the Trancoso municipality too so that there was an obligation to bring people there? If so, it certainly did not work as intended. We arrived well after darkness and saw nothing of the town. And no one said a word about it either; if it had any touristic sites or remarkable history we do not know.

I certainly don't understand the logic. It seems to be just another aspect of how not to organise an event like this. Read about other strange things in my blog post referenced above.

So, I must agree with your question again Luiz: "What were you thinking Maria João de Almeida?" Who knows? She doesn't say.


Luiz Alberto, #winelover said...

Here are the comments posted by Jamie Goode on his blog:
"I’m in the process of writing up the great Portuguese fortified wine tasting in Linhares on Saturday morning. This was one of the most remarkable tastings that I’ve been involved with, and it rather took me by surprise.
I was expecting a walk-around tasting, of the sort we normally have in the wine trade. Yet it turned out to be a sit down tasting for just 12 participants, compered by Bento Amaral of the IDVP, with 40 rare, high-end fortified wines, dating back to 1863.
This was great, but unfortunately many of the journalists present at the conference turned up expecting to taste, only to be turned away. It was quite painful and embarrassing. A communication issue. I know how I would have felt if I had turned up only to watch a tasting."
You can check the entire story by going here:

Luiz Alberto, #winelover said...

This is what jancis Robinson had to say about the event in Celorico:
“Last week I went, with several other British wine writers such as Sarah Ahmed, Tim Atkin and Jamie Goode, to the Encontro e Prova Internacional de Vinho in Portugal organised by Portuguese wine writer Maria João de Almeida. It took place in the mountainous Beira Interior in the natural park of the Serra da Estrella (Star Mountain) where that lovely gooey cheese comes from. I must say that, had I realised it was a three-hour drive from Lisbon (albeit a spectacular drive), I might have had second thoughts about accepting the invitation to speak there – in the strangest place I have ever seen for a wine conference: an arctic sports hall in the little hill town of Celorico da Beira. I should have learnt the lesson of studying the itinerary carefully from my last, 36-hour flight to the Central Otago Pinot Noir event. (I can't believe I didn't whinge about this, and being met straight off the plane and expected to visit four wineries without even going to my hotel room here, but don't seem to have done.)“

Angela Reddin said...

I have sent a report of my findings and feelings about this conference to Maria. But I do have one addition to make on this post re the last day. There were 2 bottles of each wine for the 'invite only' tasting. That could easily have served 40 people (although one of the bottles turned out to be corked ... even so. To be taken to a tasting that you are expressly "NOT INVITED" to attend, then to have to hang around for hours when there IS a tasting with producers waiting since 9 am to receive us, gave added insult. I gave up hanging around at 12.30 and took a lift to Celorico venue and was one of the first to be at the tasting. This was the first time in the 3 days that we were going to taste properly and we couldnt get there! Wrong! I am afraid I do not comment on other people's interpretation of a wine. Only what I myself taste.

grapesqueezer said...

I don't have the address of Maria Joao de Almeida personnally (someone can give it?), but would like to know how the 'prestigious international sommeliers' were selected (friends of?)? Very few of these have real (inter)national importance, don't write about their experiences, haven't any real influence on the market! Eg for Belgium: Eric Boschman is not a MW (!), William Wouters is very good in his restaurant-bar, but where is the impact on the market? How can I get the results of this tasting?

Dirk-Antoon Samyn
Consultant-Buyer, WSET, MW student, educator, ...

victor Marques said...

Dear Luiz,

It has been a great pleasure to be connected with you.
Regarding Wine events and wine tourism in Portugal we are far away
from Spain, Italy and France.
I Love to attend wine events in Uk because British people love wine and are great organizers.
Im really dissapointed with the Portuguese institutions connected in wine Industry.
They love big companies and forget small producers as well.
As a wine producer from Douro valley I love my region and Portugal
and I want to say thank you to for being a great ambassador of Portuguese wines.
Carry on your great job!

Warmest regards from Douro Valley.
Victor Marques

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