Sunday, July 23, 2017

Mateus osé

The archetype of a beautiful private library

Mateus is famous for its world -renowned rosé wine. The solar of Mateus, a magnificent 18th century baroque mansion, depicted on the label of the bottle, seems therefore to be a compulsory stop when on a wine-tour in Portugal. Especially when they also advertise wine tasting and purchase possibilities.

Well it is a tourist trap if you come for the wine.

I should have been warned when the young man at the entrance (who spoke English well enough) did not seem to understand what I meant when I asked if the 15 € (!) ticket included the wine tasting and a visit of the vineyards and cellars. I paid the whopping entrance fee nevertheless, booked the 12 o’clock visit-slot and in the meantime visited the sumptuous gardens, alleyways and the tiny vineyard in the back garden.

The visit of the superb mansion is worthwhile if you are interested in that kind of things, but it is basically the house of a very rich family that made their fortune in Brazil in the 18th century. At the end of the tour, I asked when we would see the wine cellars or the wine production or the tasting of the rosé.

There was none, the visit was over. The guide explained that the only link between the house and the famous rosé wine nowadays is the fact that the winery which is situated elsewhere, has bought the permission to use the picture of the Manor on their labels. There is no wine making at the Solar of Mateus since many years…

This clarified, I must then conclude that the library in the house, boasting 6000 volumes, is the main attraction for any book-lover. Not only is it a beautiful room, but it is also crammed with readable stuff, Dickens for instance and Alexandre Dumas and many other classic writers which are still read nowadays, all bound in magnificent unique, hard cover leather editions.

How I would have enjoyed lingering in that library for a few hours all by myself. There must be more treasures hidden on the bookshelves beside the Os Lusiadas by one-eyed Camoes.