If you've ever had a taste of Mateus wine – that sweet, frizzante rosé wine that was popular in the swinging 1970s – then the Mateus Palace should feel like an old familiar friend. That's because the Mateus Palace was – and still is – on the label of every one of the uniquely narrow-necked, flask-shaped bottles.
The palace was built for the Third Morgado of Mateus, António José Botelho Mourão, and is located just outside of the pretty city of Vila Real (which translates to 'Royal Town' as it was founded by King Denis of Portugal and was popular among members of the royal family during the Middle Ages). It was designed by famed architect and artist Nicolau Nasoni from 1739-1743. An Italian, he spent most of his adult life in Porto and created many of his most celebrated works there. Porto's São Pedro dos Clérigos Church and Granite Tower are considered to be among his greatest works – but he had also designed numerous other buildings and façades when he was approached to design the palace.
A stunning Baroque masterpiece, the palace is lavish in its every detail. Elegantly formal flowerbeds are mazelike in appearance, rivaling those of many other palaces throughout Europe. Enjoy the box hedges, various statues, cedar tunnel (roughly 115 feet long) and the pond on the grounds. The roof is decorated with beautiful pinnacles and ornate balustraded stairways grace the exterior of the palace.
Notably a small vineyard and winery is also here – but instead of Mateus wine, they make Port wine on the palace grounds. You can also purchase Port wine – but not Mateus wine – in a gift shop. This is because despite the palace gracing the label, and thereby seeming synonymous with the rosé, it actually has very little to do with the famous varietal itself.
And while the only connection Mateus wine has with Mateus Palace is the label, it is still quite a treat to visit this exquisite palace. Not to mention a delicious excuse to taste some Mateus wine and bring back fond memories – or create new ones!
By Joan Casanova, Bonnie Plants,
Photographs courtesy of Bonnie Plants
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