Howard's Folly | Alentejo, Portugal
Updated: Jun 14, 2021
Howard’s Folly, a winery like no other in Alentejo, Portugal. Founded by Howrad Bilton, a Hong Kong based entrepreneur from England, and David Baverstock, a winemaking legend originally from Australia, who has been honored for his contributions to the agriculture industry, making him the first non-portuguese Comendadora, a version knighthood in Portugal. The reason for bequeathing such merit: impressive wines and charity. Beyond supporting sustainable and environmental practices, Howard’s Folly also supports the Sovereign Art Foundation, a charity funding underprivileged children.
Howard's Folly - Estremoz, Portugal.
Wine critic James Suckling awarded their Sonhador wine with 93 points, calling it, “Opulent” and Dr. Jamie Goode praised it as, “On the nose, tight, bit of citrus; palate is quite layered...exotic white peach, pear and spicy oak...nice brightness, a nice sense of precision...really attractive...quite modern.. fruit driven.”
When it came to their Carcavelos, 1991 vintage, even more accolades ensued from Goode, “Wonderful nose, marmelade, raisins, tar, treakle...wonderful spiciness, a bit of old furniture...just fabulous notes...a world class fortified wine. I just can’t stop drinking it, it is just so delicious.”
Ancient vines used by Howard's Folly.
As personal enthusiasts of their wines, art-charity and restaurant, we felt privileged to interview Howard in Hong Kong, and ask him about Howard’s Folly:
Q: How many different grape varieties do you work with?
A: The main varietals there are Syrah, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional, Aragonez and Alicante Bouschet. We use indigenous Portuguese grapes and we make Portuguese style wines.
Q: Everyone talks about terroir, what makes yours unique?
A: Our high altitude gives us the freshness and elegance that sets us apart.The vineyards are at 600 meters so the climate is significantly cooler than much of the Alentejo. This allows us to make wines with freshness and elegance, which is not the classic style of the region. It is the style of wine I prefer to drink, so it is naturally the style I prefer to make as well.
Howard's Folly Sonhador Tinto 2016 label, featuring artwork painted by disadvantaged children assisted by the Sovereign Art Foundation.
Q: Tell us something about the art you incorporate:
A: Our business actually mixes wine and charity. We support The Sovereign Art Foundation, which uses art as rehabilitation and therapy for underprivileged children throughout the world. Art is featured on our labels, and we change the label design every year, and use an image by one of the finalists of the SAF art prizes, or by artists associated with the brand.
The next release of wines will showcase paintings done by some of the children counseled by SAF. We are proud of this association and the support we give to the global community. Our visitor center, bar and restaurant, tasting area and private dining room, all feature art, and we have an art gallery where we will show different exhibitions.
Chef's 'petiscos' charcuterie board: Howard's Folly restaurant.
Q: What is your favorite local restaurant?
A: Our own, we only use local ingredients, and our menus change seasonally. We are newly opened but already have a great reputation for quality. The region grows fantastic fresh vegetables, and is famous for its pigs, which make the Portuguese equivalent of Jamon Iberico. Olive oil is also a specialty here. Nothing needs to be imported, as every type of food is available locally, something we highlight and take advantage of in our restaurant.
Q: Anything else we should know about the winery or you?
A: The winery offers the opportunity for customers to blend their own wine, with their own label. Here, each customer has the opportunity to become an artist and winemaker.
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Buy Howard's Folly wines below:
Howard's Folly 'Sonhador' Branco 2018
This white wine is a field blend aged for 4 months in new French oak on lees. It has complex aromas of citrus, lychees and toast. The palate is rich and structured with a creamy texture and fresh acidity that gives it balance. The finish is long. It pairs fantastically with richer fish dishes, pork, chicken and anything in a cream sauce or with mushrooms. View in store.
Howard's Folly 'Sonhador' Tinto 2015
A blend of Alicante Bouschet (30%), Syrah (30%), Aragonez (30%) and Touriga Nacional (10%) aged for 9 months in a mix of stainless steel and neutral oak. The palate gives notes of red berries, cherries and plums with a hint of black pepper spice. The palate it rich, structured, silky and layered with youthful fruit. It matches well with roasted meats and vegetables spiced with Asian five spice and cumin. View in store.
Howard's Folly Alvarinho 2017
100% Alvarinho aged for 4 months in stainless steel on lees, this wine is full of fresh citrus aromas, especially lime, that jump out of the glass. It is dry, clean and crisp. The fruit flavors are ripe and lush, highlighted by a mineral driven finish. This wine is great with anything from the sea. It is exceptionally good with white fish and meats, leafy green herbs, seafood risotto, fish tacos, oysters, mussels, clams, soft cheeses like burrata and salty feta. View in store.
Howard's Folly Reserva Tinto 2015
A blend of Syrah (70%) and Alicante Bouschet (30%) aged for 12 months in a mix of new and neutral French oak, this wine strikes an earthy balance of black plums, blueberries, cocoa and balsamic. It has firm tannins and a very long but smooth finish. Darker meats and exotic spices bring out the deep, dark fruit notes of this wine. We think you should try it with lamb shawarma, gyros, Asian five spice pork and Indian tandoori meats. View in store.
Howard's Folly Winemaker's Choice 2013
A blend of Syrah (40%), Alicante Bouschet (30%), Aragonez (20%), and Touriga Nacional (10%) aged for 9 months in neutral French and American oak, this wine has complex aromas of dark berries and plum fruits. It has a firm and structured palate with lush fruit and great acidity on the finish. Darker meats and exotic spices bring out the dark fruit notes in this wine. Try it with lamb shawarma, gyros, Asian five spice pork and Indian tandoori. View in store.
To learn more visit their website at www.howardsfollywine.com