After passing through Silves, where you could also visit the castle and stroll the streets of the old town, an ever-diminishing, winding, potholed, narrow road eventually led us to the more remote Quinta do Frances.
Quinta do Frances is named after its owner, Patrick Agostini, a French pathologist born to a family with wine-making roots in Piedmont. He and his Portuguese wife settled here in the Odelouca River Valley in 2002 and planted eight hectares of Trincadeira, Aragonês, (otherwise known as Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah on south-facing slopes previously covered with wild vegetation. Their labour of love was established by 2006 and became productive in 2008. Their welcoming winery, overlooking the vines, incorporating a shop cum tasting room is built in a typical Algarvian style, painted white with blue trim and frescoes. They chose the Algarve to pursue their dreams as it is not really on the world map of wine, although they are now helping it find its place there, winning praise and awards for their wines in both Portugal and abroad.
Patrick believes the schist soils help create just enough stress to concentrate the grapes enabling him to craft high-quality wines, together with judicious use of new French oak for the reds and the Quinta do Frances white. Their two ranges of wines, the Quinta do Frances and the second label Odelouca, have won medals in both London and Brussels. They produce red, white and rosé blends and a varietal Syrah. They only have black grapes of their own, so they buy in the white grapes from near Albufeira, but of course produce the wine themselves here. Their Odelouca rosé was a crisp, refreshing summer wine with a touch of minerality, and plenty of strawberry, lychee and passion fruit. Just the thing on the hot day of our visit.