José Bento dos Santos: the struggle for gastronomy

He is a chemical-industrial engineer but he could have well been such a chef is his passion for gastronomy, including wines, which he produces in the Lisbon region. Scholar and gastrotropimus is probably one of the men who fought the most and made the quality of our cuisine stand out at national and international level.

Were wine drunk in your family, were you connoisseu
rs? Yes, we were accompanying meals with wine. My father gave me the first lessons on how to enjoy the wine. And throughout my meninice and youth, I spent the holidays watching the harvests, the fermentation of the musts and all the work of the cellar. I still have in my memory that unforgettable smell...

When and how did you start to be a wine connoisse
ur? Around the age of 16, when I started playing rugby trained by António Carqueijeiro, my master in rugby, gastronomy and wine. At the age of 17 I visited all the great Chateaux of Bordeaux and had my first contact with the greatest wines in the world. I still have it in my collection, some of the bottles I brought from there at that time.

How did you find out and decide to acquire Quinta do Monte
d'Oiro? Quinta do Monte d'Oiro is, first of all, an investment in the land where my Family had its roots. Then, the farm's wine project is already a thought-out, rational project, with objectives defined in the study of the potentialities of this privileged 'terroir', known since the 19th century. 18th. We wanted to know in detail how far we could go. The project has always been based on the idea of producing great wines and not on industrial production, without soul.

Everyone knows the important role he had and has in the area of gastronomy, including wines, having done several works in this area. Don't you feel like you picked the wr
ong profession? Gastronomy, wines, are a real passion, such as rugby or metals. But all my life was based on communicating, passing messages. For this it is necessary to do a lot of homework, with a lot of previous and profound study. And I think, judging by the results I'm proud of, I was able to get the message across my rugby players, just like I was able to get the message across the metals trade, how I was able to get through television shows. And success is only evaluated by the results.

In wine, like everything I've done in my life, I have a message to pass through the thrill of feeling a unique identity in the wines of Quinta do Monte d'Oiro. And the pleasure that is full when we make them accompanied by a well-cooked meal. I reveal a curiosity here: when I did the recitation of finalists of the Coach in the Monumental theater, were woven very good criticism stemming from my performance on stage, and Vasco Morgado challenged me at the time for a theatrical career. If I'd accepted, I would have kept myself in the communication area, but there was rugby, metals, wine, gastronomy...

What was the personality of the wine world that marked you the mo
st? I have many references from personalities who taught me a lot of what I know today about wine. And what I know is how amateur, how fond and gastronoism, not as a winemaker or professional. Aubert de Villaine, the mythical, and Jacques Puisais, the man of taste, influenced me a lot. Michel Bettane created in me sensitivity, António Carqueijeiro started me, just like Dirk Niepoort (and I do not forget his mother!) who opened up my horizons. Michel Chapoutier, Virgil Loureiro and also my team from Quinta do Monte d'Oiro, Graça Gonçalves and Gregory Viennois, were shaping and perfecting my taste for wine.

What was the wine (or wines) that tasted and scored it more (scored)
? I can either talk about a D. José do Douro that I discovered in the booty of my father's wine cellar, or a Cartaxo Francisco Ribeiro 1966, drunk in Luanda in 1975, thinking it was the last bottle of wine of my life; as an inenarrable Noval Nacional 1945, followed by an 1863 Burmester that left Michel Bettane speechless. The 1990 Key has no possible description in words, like Henry Jayer. A François Cotat Les Monts Damnés1997 was one of the whites of my life, as was the Montrachet D.R.C. 1989, to go to tears! But all these wines remain in my memory, not by the organoleptic descriptive so to the current and reducing taste of the wine itself, but by the association with unique moments of passion, emotion, pure gastronomy, of sublime pleasure...

Portuguese wine has already managed to gain some international projection but still has a long way to go. For you, what is the future of Portuguese wine?
The qualitative balance of Portuguese wine in the last 30 years is gigantic. But in this highly competitive market, international projection - recognition - is absolutely critical. Portugal has already been said with the wines of Porto and Madeira but, in view of the so-called table wines, two distinct markets have to be considered: the volume, the one that can make money, which represents 97% of the world's production and where we are relatively well positioned in terms of quality and price, but where we are not yet recognized; and that of the great wines that, although only representing 3% of the world market, do not give money, but give prestige and recognition.

Since we are very limited in terms of funds available for promotion, we need to decide which bets and priorities to spend the money. In my personal point of view, I would bet precisely on the presentation and international recognition by opinion-makers, our great wines, those who, in addition to guarding, provoke extraordinary pleasure, which we already have and of which we must Proud. Once this desideratum has been achieved, I am convinced that the rest would naturally come by drag...


The son of merchants, born in 1947, he is a chemical engineer- Industrial and Portuguese gastronomist. He studied at the Instituto Superior Técnico and, still during the course, served the national rugby team as a coach, between 1967 and 1968. He began his professional career at CUF after interning at a beer factory in Norway. He was head of production in the copper metallurgy sector of CUF, from where he became marketing director of the metals area. In 1981, with Eduardo Catroga, he was one of the founders of Quimimbro, an international metal broker. In 1990 began the production of wine in Quinta do Monte d'Oiro, in Alenquer, where it has family roots. Its wines have already won criticism and hold numerous medals and prizes. He has directed several seminars and conferences on gastronomy. He is the author of the book "Gastronomic Subtleties – recipes around a wine", and presented two television series, "Secrets of Wine" (SIC) and "The Sense of Taste" (RTP). He is President of the International Academy of Gastronomy, Gastronomic Advisor of chaîne des Rôtisseurs, Knight of the Port Wine Brotherhood, member of the Académie des Psycologues du Goût, Chevalier des Entonneurs Rabelaisiens and Chevalier du Tastevin.