A bountiful Algarve estate, Quinta dos Sentidos pr...

A bountiful Algarve estate, Quinta dos Sentidos produces exceptional wines, luscious olive oil and a cornucopia of extraordinary fruits

By: Alexandra Stilwell 

Arousing the senses

For those who enjoy gardening, little is more satisfying than watching plants grow and flourish, especially when it comes to edibles. There is a particular delight in harvesting and consuming the fruits of our labour. For Beat Buchmann and Charlotte Toubro, what is a hobby for most of us, turned into a full-time project.

Having retired from fulfilling corporate careers in Switzerland, the Swiss-Danish couple relocated to the Algarve, where they embarked on an unexpected adventure. With little knowledge of agriculture, yet plenty of determination, they created Quinta dos Sentidos (the Farm of the Senses), a unique wine-producing estate and collection of fruit gardens that delight all the senses.

Located near the Arade River in Silves, an overgrown plot of land and its ruin caught the couple’s attention during a trip to the Algarve in 2005.

Atop a rocky hill with a picturesque view of Monchique, the nine-hectare property proved to be a genuine diamond in the rough. Once cleared, excavated and landscaped, it revealed its true potential.

Wine was not initially part of the plan. However, being wine amateurs, it came organically. Realising they had more land than they knew what to do with, they contacted wine consultant Alain Bramaz (winemaker at Quinta do Zambujeiro, Alentejo) to ask him to help them on their journey. The Swiss winemaker gladly took on their challenge in a bid to “prove quality wine can be produced in the Algarve”, recalls Charlotte. “He has been our guiding spirit, designing the functionality of the winery and helping us choose the varieties to plant.” Together, they planted around four hectares of vines: the reds – Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Tinta Caiada and Aragonez – in 2012, and the whites – Arinto and Antão Vaz – in 2016.

The vines were planted on the property’s south, west, and east-facing slopes, with the west-facing vineyard being the steepest, reminiscent of the Mosel. This is also where Beat created his special projects: an experimental vineyard featuring 50 Portuguese grape varieties planted to study each variety’s potential and make micro-vinifications. And next to the Arinto and Antão Vaz, a new vineyard planted with the Swiss grape variety Petite Arvine, reputed to be the “diva” of Swiss grapes for being capricious and challenging to grow.

In 2016, they were ready to vinify their first wine and launched it in 2018. Its name, Tato (Touch) Tinto, came intuitively. “What really defined our first 10 years here were stones,” exclaims Charlotte. “We had thousands of stones here, from clearing the vines and excavating the land to build the house. But they are beautiful, these red Silves sandstones, and we thought, this is what really defines this place.” Tato, therefore, became the winery’s emblematic wine, bearing a picture of the famous stones on its label.

Their portfolio has since grown exponentially. Today, it features several senses’: Tato (Touch), Paladar (Taste), Visão (Sight), and Olfato (Smell), each vinified differently and individually revealing the rich terroir. Their entry-level wines, the Paladar Branco 2023 (€12), a light and fresh blanc de noir made with the estate’s four red varieties, and the Paladar Tinto 2021 (€12), a Pinot Noir style blend of Tinta Caiada and Aragonez, are both easy-drinking wines. As is the Visão Rosé 2022 (€15), a beautifully presented, very dry, light salmon-pink rosé with aromas of red fruit.

The emblematic Tato Branco 2022 (€24), a gastronomic blend of Arinto and Antão Vaz aged in American and French oak barrels, and Tato Tinto 2020 (€32), a complex blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Caiada and Syrah, with very smooth tannins, will both age beautifully in the bottle.

The winery’s premium wines are the Quinta dos Sentidos 2018 (€50), a 100% Touriga Nacional wine, only released in exceptional years, “when the wine is outstanding”, says Beat, and the Olfato Tinto 2021 (€37), 100% Syrah. “Every now and then, we find one barrel that is out of this world. We bottle that one barrel,” which produces just 300 bottles. There is also the Cru, a new range of unfiltered wines that resident winemaker André Palma has been developing. The Cru Branco 2023 (€19), aged in amphora, is a blend of 70% Petite Arvine and 30% of a mix of 30 varieties from the experimental vineyard, and the Cru Red 2021 (€19) is a pilot batch of Tinta Caiada and Aragonez.

Complementary projects include the Essência (€20), a late harvest red made with 100% Touriga Nacional grapes, which pairs beautifully with dark chocolate, and the Verjus (€11 and €17), made from unripened grapes and which is now used to make non-alcoholic cocktails, marinades, salad dressings, and deglazing sauces, “because it has a very neutral acidity”, explains Beat.

To guarantee the excellence of their wines, they practice strict yield reduction – a process that involves removing extra fruit from the vine to allow the top-quality grapes to absorb more nutrients and intensify their flavours – and meticulous selection of the grapes. Using these quality-enhancing techniques, they limit their annual production to between 12,000 and 14,000 bottles, half of which are exported to Switzerland and Holland.

©Alexandra Stilwell / Open Media Group

But Quinta dos Sentidos is much more than a winery. Its collection of fruit trees is second to none in the region. “We now have roughly 40 different types of citrus fruits,” points out Beat, including species such as caviar lime, that have aroused several Michelin chefs’ curiosity. Typically, besides the autochthonous species, “fruit from South Africa, Southeast Asia and California thrive here”, explains Charlotte, such as bergamot, kaffir lime, yuzu, red lemon, starfruit, lychees and chocolate pudding fruit from Mexico (Diospyros Nigra).

©Alexandra Stilwell / Open Media Group

Offering quintessential Mediterranean flavours, the Galega, Maçanilha, Picual, Negrinha, Hojiblanca and Cobrançosa olive varieties that make up the estates’ 650-olive-tree orchard are pressed in-house to produce silky single varietal (€17) and blended olive oils (€11 and €17).

Charlotte Toubro and Beat Buchmann Buchmann

While Beat is wild about fruit trees, Charlotte’s passion lies in the multicoloured botanical garden where she planted 238 species of flowers, bushes, and trees to further delight the senses.


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