I know nothing about wine, when I'm buying a bottle I tend to go by the price. But when editor-in-chief Aimee Hartley asked me to contribute to the Portugal issue of wine magazine Above Sea Level she assured me that I was precisely the kind of writer they look for, someone who can bring an outside perspective to an often insular discussion.
While researching for my articles on the islands of Pico and Madeira I ended up reading about Portuguese colonialism, phylloxera plagues, and the collapse of the whaling industry in the North Atlantic - there's more to a bottle of wine than the terroir.
For as far as the eye can see there is only pitted igneous rock, scrub, lichen and the occasional Dracaena draco – the dragon tree, with its spine-like leaves atop a thick, robust trunk. The steep, rocky beaches mean there are few ports, so almost everything must be imported by plane.
A Tale of Two Islands, is available in issue 2 of Above Sea Level.