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Experience the skills and learn from the knowledge of some of Portugal’s best sommeliers – as selected by Portugal’s official Best Sommelier, António Lopes

Desire 2015

The Wine Experts

TASTE PORTUGAL’s celebratory spring events weekend, in association with CONRAD Algarve, will bring together eight of Portugal’s top sommeliers, under the guidance of Portugal’s Best Sommelier, CONRAD Algarve’s Head Sommelier and TASTE PORTUGAL’s Official Sommelier – Antonio Lopes.

WORDS: Anna McNay|PHOTO: NoneSuchImages| 4 March 2015

The Wine Experts

‘Lopes is keen to promote the names of his colleagues across Portugal’

TRAINED AS A sommelier in Coimbra, near to where he was born, Antonio Lopes worked for nearly a year at Gleneagles in Scotland, before returning home to Portugal, where he now works alongside three Michelin starred chef Heinz Beck at CONRAD Algarve’s Gusto restaurant. Despite recently winning the Revista Wine: A Essência do Vinho Sommelier of the Year Award, Lopes remains modest and is keen to promote the names of his colleagues across Portugal.

One such colleague is Nelson Marreiros, Head Sommelier at the two Michelin starred Ocean, Hans Neuner’s restaurant at the Algarve’s luxury VILA VITA Parc. After studying at the Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo do Algarve, Marreiros went straight to VILA VITA in 2003, working first in the main hotel, then at the resort's exclusive beach restaurant Arte Náutica, before joining Ocean in 2007.

A fellow sommelier from the Algarve is Miguel Martins, originally from Porto, but who, once having tasted life in the south, was keen to stay. After completing his studies, Martins undertook a number of training courses at the Professional School of Tourism in the Algarve, specialising, amongst other things, in bartending and the art of being a sommelier. He has participated in various national and international wine events, including seminars, exhibitions and forums. His CV includes such esteemed establishments as VILA VITA Parc, Le Ermitage (Vale do Lobo) and the Henrique Leis Restaurant (Almancil). He is currently sommelier at Vila Joya. Recently he started a project of his own: a wine shop called Sommelier, located in Lagos. As well as selling wine, the shop also offers wine tastings both in house and at people’s homes, wine tours, wine consultancy and training.

Sérgio Pereira was also born in Porto, where he studied at the Porto Hotel School. Qualified to WSET Level 3, he sits on the jury of several national and international competitions and, throughout his 20 year career, has been Head Sommelier at numerous restaurants, including Degusto Ristorante, Buhle Foz, Shis and, more recently, Rui Paula’s DOP. Today he works on the management team for the oldest distributor of wines in Portugal and is sommelier for the On-Trade Wine Market.

Madeiran Sérgio Marques comes from a humble background as one of three children to a widowed mother. After finishing his sommelier’s training at 17, he began work at Relais et Châteaux’s Casa Velha do Palheiro and undertook a number of national and international work placements. He later travelled to the south of Spain, where he had the opportunity to be part of the Can Fabes Restaurant team. Back home on Madeira, he joined Choupana Hills, where he worked with some great names, including Henry Jones and Ricardo Henriques. Since 2009, he has been at Il Gallo d'Oro, the only Michelin starred restaurant on the island, at the Cliff Bay Hotel. Marques says that his primary goal is to enable every one of his customers to enjoy a sensory journey through the various wine aromas that Portugal has to offer. He is a keen ambassador for Portuguese wines, wanting to make them known to the wider world.

Carlos Gil Trindade Pinto has been working as the Head Sommelier at DOC, chef Rui Paula’s restaurant in the Douro Valley, since 2008. He studied at the School of Hospitality and Tourism in Lamego (2004-2007), completing internships at the Sheraton in Porto in 2005 and the CS Suite Hotel S. Rafael in Albufeira in 2006. Since joining Paula’s team, Pinto has developed his love for both the Douro region and its main product, wine. He is always eager to learn and to share his wisdom, not only with his team, but also with his clients. He is known for the precision of work and for his enthusiasm.

Co-founder of and sommelier at Simplify Somm, Ricardo Morais, is from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. His CV includes time spent as a sommelier at both Restaurante Bocca and Estórias na Casa da Comida, and as Restaurant Manager at the Hotel Ritz Four Seasons in Lisbon. He has undertaken an internship with the Master Sommelier João Pires at Heston Blumenthal's Dinner in London and, in 2011, was named Sommelier of the Year by Revista de Vinho. As well as working at Simplify Somm, Morais is currently also a partner in the wine shop, Momentos no Paço.

And where would this list of top Portuguese sommeliers, all of whom will be taking part in TASTE PORTUGAL’s exclusive weekend of events at CONRAD Algarve on 28 and 29 March, be, without the inclusion of at least one female leader in the field? Donatília Vivas was born in the heart of the Alentejo and grew up in Reguengos de Monsaraz, one of the most noble and emblematic wine regions there. In 1998, she began her professional career at Herdade do Esporão. Since then, she has developed and deepened her wine knowledge, helped by David Baverstock, Luís Duarte and their wine team. Like Pereira, she has also achieved WSET Level 3. In addition, she has a degree in philosophy from Évora University, a postgraduate degree in TSHST, and is trained in CAP Professional. She has also participated in numerous wine events, fairs and wine dinners.

So, to really experience the skills and learn from the knowledge of some of Portugal’s best sommeliers – as selected by Portugal’s official Best Sommelier – don’t miss out on TASTE PORTUGAL’s exclusive weekend of celebratory events as CONRAD Algarve, 28-29 March 2015.