Nelson Guerreiro, the new sommelier of ALMA
Nelson Guerreiro is the new member of the ALMA team. Winner of the 2017 National Sommeliers Contest, since 2009 he has been the director of Enoteca de Belém and a teacher at Escola de Hotelaria de Lisboa. “At ALMA, in the first months, I endeavoured to understand the philosophy of the restaurant and of Chef Henrique. Initially, I made few alterations to the Wine List or to the service style”. The sommelier at ALMA first began to feel the restaurant’s ambiance and, especially, its kitchen, in a quest to “attempt to understand our clients’ expectations and the means of making their experiences memorable. That, in my opinion, takes some time and is a gradual process”, he confesses.
In implementing criteria to select the wines served with the menus Costa a Costa and Alma, the jury member, for the second consecutive year at Decanter World Wine Awards of 2018 (DWWA), admits that it was not easy. ”Chef Henrique and his team have a very peculiar style in the kitchen. The clarity of how we feel the flavours is disconcerting. Among the intensities and textures at the end of each dish, there is an explosion of flavours that were highly accomplished and well defined. This accomplishment involves the whole team. After various tasting tests, I had some ideas and shared them with the entire team and took notes about the various opinions before deciding”, explains Nelson Guerreiro. This entire process always takes into account the clients of ALMA, in an attempt to understand their feedback about his selections. According to the sommelier, it’s a long process “even though perfect harmony simply does not exist. Persons are all different and have different levels of perceiving flavours. We must know how to find a balance”, he says.
The next time you try the Costa a Costa menu, when the main dish, Scarlet Prawn Rice, is served, it is certain Nelson will suggest the red wine Respiro. “It’s a wine from Portalegre, produced at four small vineyards that are over 100 years old, where all varieties are mixed in the vineyard, of which 70% are white grapes and 30% are red”. As for the ALMA menu, with its main dish of Roast Piglet, Nelson Guerreiro recommends the red Sidónio de Sousa Vinho d´Autor Baga 2009, D.O.C Bairrada.
And if you think that wine suggestions are not part of dessert, think again. “In the Costa a Costa menu, the dessert Sea and Citrus Fruits is enhanced by a Poiré de Eric Bordelet, a Cider made from Pears of Normandy, France. And for the ALMA menu, a Bairrada liqueur called Espírito de Baga by Filipa Pato is suggested.
More than highlighting two or three wines from the list, the sommelier believes that “the list exists as a whole, with greater emphasis on Portuguese wines. And the wine list is dynamic. I believe in rotation and always endeavour to surprise our clients with different wines”.