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Howard’s Folly
What do you get when you cross a no-nonsense Yorkshireman living in Hong Kong with an ambitious, Portugal based Aussie? Although many things might spring to mind, we bet a world-class, mouth-watering, highly acclaimed fine wine isn’t the first answer. And yet it should be; the brainchild of Howard Bilton and winemaker David Baverstock, Howard’s Folly sure ain't foolish.
An Australian in Alentejo
In fact, this is quite an easy one: in 2002, Howard, a lover all fine wines but particularly the Portuguese teamed with David Baverstock (of Portugal’s Esporão winery) with the joint vision of creating superbly fruity, full-bodied wines (both red and white) from the Alentejo region of northern Portugal. David, the only non-Portuguese to ever have won “Portuguese Winemaker of the Year” at the International Wine Challange brought over 20 years of experience with him to Howard’s Folly, after working first with Port (at both Croft and Symington), then table wines (notably at Quita do Castro). What started off as literally a folly, grew to immense proportions, so much so that after spending years without premises the duo opened their own winery in 2018.
The Portuguese Che Guevara
Despite Howard’s Folly having a “tiny” 6.5 hectare vineyard for the production of Sonhador and reserve red wines, David sources grapes from local farmers with small plots of very old vines (including Alicante Bouschet, Syrah, Touriga Nacional) to give his wines the complex and spice that have earned him the title of the man responsible for revolutionising Portgual’s table wine trade. “We believe the sum of the parts is more interesting than the individual varieties on their own”, says David, “very excited to be working with old vine Portalegre fruit where we have mixed plantings of around 20 grape varietals where we don’t even know the full range.” ¡Hasta la revolución siempre!
Lots of Portuguese potential
With Alentejo’s warm, dry climate, the region has attracted investment in recent years, with many talented winemakers setting up shop. Today about 45% of all wine drunk in Portugal is produced in the Alentejo, and this looks set to rise; perhaps because of the superlative quality of the blending, perhaps the huge potential or perhaps because the price for a high-quality fine wine remains very affordable.