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From the lovely couple at Casa de Mouraz, Biotite is mostly Loureiro (with 10% Arinto) from certified organic vineyards in the Vinho Verde region, grown on granitic soils in the valley of the Lima River. This is a lovely mineral driven white, and a real eyeopener to the potential of the Vinho Verde wines. Most people just know the spritzy low alcohol whites (from early harvested usually under-ripe grapes), but this is a real wine, made from mature fruit and allowed to ferment naturally for a different kind of expression. Enjoy on its own on a sunny afternoon or with seafood, chicken, vegetables, sushi, salads, and cheeses. Stone fruit, salinity, and good concentration on the mid-palate. 2017 is really a fantastic vintage for this wine! ~Eben Lillie
Not to be confused with the island of Madeira, winemaker Antonio Madeira is dedicated to celebrating the best vineyards in the Dão. He is focused on preserving old vines of native Portuguese varieties and farms his small parcels organically and all by hand. This bottling is a field blend of around twenty different grapes grown on granite soils. It is spontaneously fermented and then aged in ~80% stainless steel, the rest in oak barrels keeping the focus of this wine on the bright acidity and fruit aromas.
A refreshing rose sparkler from Aphros winery, this is a blend of Alvarelhao and Vinhao, made in Pet-Nat (or Ancestral) style. Tasty, fresh, and very pale in the glass, with bright acidity and subtle fruit mingling with hibiscus and rosewater notes. -EL
Wine writer João Afonso purchased and began rehabilitating Cabeças do Reguengo, an old farm that featured some neglected 100 year-old vines, in Portgal's Alentejo in 2009. As the wines recovered, he began making low-intervention wines from his own fruit and from fruit purchased from his neighbors who are working sustainably. Respiro Tinto is made from a large variety of purchased red (~35%) and white grapes (Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir, Manteúdo, Uva Formosa...), hand-harvested and fermented together with indigenous yeasts in traditional stone lagars, then aged in used oak barrels for one year before bottling. Afonso does not fine or filter, and adds only minimal sulfites right before bottling. The wine is a joyous red ruby color in the glass, with heady aromas of rose, cherry, and black tea. On the palate it is delicate and fresh, with notes of cherry and blackberry, and just a touch of tannic structure. Ben Fletcher
Casa de Saima is located in the heart of Bairrada , producing cuvees from 18 hectares of vines in the region. Tonel 10 comes from 50-year-old Baga vines from Casa de Saima’s oldest vineyard. The grapes are hand-harvested, crushed by foot, and then allowed to spontaneously ferment in lagar for about seven days. The wine is then matured in large, seasoned oak vats for one year. The result is the lightest cuvée from Casa de Saima. It is a ruby color in the glass with a nose of wild strawberry, cassis, bramble fruit and earth. The palate shows density, but it never overpowers. Showcasing juicy, bright red fruits, terrific acidity and soft tannins, this is a lovely lighter styled Baga. Pair with roasted chicken thighs, lamb burgers, or alheira.
Bairrada, with its cooler maritime climate, has a long history of producing fresh and distinctive sparkling wines of quality from the native grapes of the region. Filipa Pato admirably keeps the tradition alive with her delicious and unpretentious brut rosé made from a blend of Bairrada’s signature noble red variety Baga and the tangy high acid white grape, Bical. Spicy and zesty with notes of bright citrus and red berries, this is a great (and affordable!) pairing for baked fish with paprika and Iberian olive oil or smoked fish brunch.
100% Moscatel Galego (also known as Muscat à Petits Grains Blanc) grown on steep slopes of schist and granite at a 500m elevation. The grapes are hand -harvested, fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts, and then aged for four months on the lees, with once-monthly stirring.
This is a fascinating field blend of 25 different indigenous Portuguese varieties planted 80 years ago on steep slopes of schist and granite! The blend is ~50% white varieties, mainly Gouveio, Abigato, Donzelinho, Malvasia Fina, Viosinho, and 50% reds, Rufete, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca, Mourisco, Tinta Roriz. All varieties are hand-harvested separately at their peak, sorted in the vineyeard, and macerated whole cluster for three days. Fermentation occurs in large granite lagers, and then the wine is aged for six months in cement, with 15% in two-year old chestnut oak.
This is our favorite value red in the store. A medium-full bodied red, with nice blackberry fruit and smooth tannins. A blend of Aragones (Tempranillo) and Castelao, wild yeast fermentation, and farmed sustainably.
A delicious and curious white blend of Encruzado, Malvasia-Fina, Bical, Cerceal-Branco, Rabo-de-Ovelha, Fernão-Pires, Uva-Cão, Síria e outras... and probably a few other un-confirmed varieties. The idea for Sara and Dionisio, is to present a white that has all the character of the Dao: a field blend that can transport us to their home. It's textured, with almost a touch of almond skin, herbs and white flowers. Fermentation is in stainless steel after 1 day of skin contact. Aging on the lees for 8 months before bottling.Eben Lillie
Lúcia Freitas manages Quinta da Mariposa, located in Carregal do Sal in the Dao región of Portgal. The Dao is home to Portugal’s oldest varieties, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. Mariposa’s 2015 tinto is a blend of both of these varieties and a little bit of Jaen (or, Mencia). It shows notes of wild strawberry, bramble, some brown spice and fresh herbs. JDC
Quinta da Serradinha, in Leiria, was the first winery to receive organic certification in Portugal, in 1994. The vines, however, have been worked organically by António Marques da Cruz and his father since 1978. They farm very carefully, rarely working the clay and sand soils of their estate and tending and harvesting all of the vines by hand. Vinification is low-intervention in approach: all grapes are destemmed and food-trodden before fermentation and maturation (in the case of the tinto, for 10 months) in used barrels. Sulfur is only added in tiny amounts at bottling. The Vinho Tinto, made from 100% Castelão, has fresh aromas for purple flowers, black cherries, and shows limestone minerality, tart cherry, and earth on the palate. A great, lighter-bodied Portuguese natural wine! Ben Fletcher
Antonio Marques da Cruz runs the Quinta do Serradinha winery, Portugal's first certified organic estate (Organic since 1994). The winery is located north of Lisbon and wines are quite traditional here, with stone lagars for crushing and big old barrels for aging. The Branco is a fascinating blend of Arinto and Fernão Pires, two local grapes. Aromas of anise and herbs, with some salinity and citrus on the palate. The Arinto delivers fresh acidity that frames the long finish. A dynamic white wine and with uniquely Portuguese character. -EL
This is not your bargain bin Vinho Verde, this is some serious Alvarinho! Vibrant and plenty aromatic while carrying a richer, fuller weight than many of the lean, slightly spritzy Vinho Verde's that are common. Notes of ripe, juicy peach and tangerine with a burst of fresh jasmine and a salty minerality.
Sidónio de Sousa's Reserva Tinto is a savory, medium to full-bodied expression of Baga, from clay-limestone soils in the Ancas-Bairrada. Pressing and fermentation happens in traditional small cement lagars, with aging for a year in large 4000L barrels, and a further two years in bottle before release. Pepper, black currant, oregano, and fresh earth abound. For a wine under $20, this traditional Baga over-delivers, providing the leather and cedar notes of a fine Bordeaux mixed with the finesse of Nebbiolo. Perhaps an old fashioned wine in style, this is no fault! A great value. -EL
A ridiculous value, and a delicious, dry expression of Baga, in sparkling rosé form. Fresh, and zippy, with subtle strawberry fruit and a soft and clean finish. Great on its own or with anything salty or grilled. -Eben