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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.
100% Vital from 35 year old vines, planted in Serra de Montejunto, about 10 miles from the Atlantic. The wine is macerated for 3 days and then pressed to ferment with native yeast in old Burgundy barrels for 11 months. Vital, a rare variety only grown in Western Portugal, is characterized by it's lower acid content and fleshy profile.This carries over to the Vital Blanco, with gorgeous notes of green apple, minerals, a slight creaminess, and fresh green herbs. A savory spice is in the palate, while the nose shows orchard fruit, white flowers and almond skin. The wine is medium body and on the richer style, similar to a lovely Rhone Valley white. This would pair well with dover sole, seafood stews, or chicken in a cream sauce. JDC
Victor Claro started the Domino project after spending some time making wines and learning from Dirk Niepoort. He parked himself in Alentejo, and began making his own wines quite recently. The Colar Branco is all Malvasia, from limestone soils in the Colares region. Though not from the sandy oceanside vineyards that Colares is famous for, the wine still expressed undeniable seaside character, with saline and tropical notes, and zippy acidity. 50% crushed and 50% whole cluster fermentation and aging in a combination of stainless steel and some barrels. It's showing a bit of reduction on opening, so open before serving or decant. -EL
Folias de Baco was started in 2007 by Douro native, Tiago Sampaio. The vineyards are located in the Alto Douro, on soils of schist and granite. He is reviving old traditions by making fascinating field blends from indigenous varieties, and at the same time exploring his love for Pinot Noir, which he developed while studying winemaking in Oregon. This wine is 100% Tinta Francisca, a native, but almost forgotten grape. Grown in granite and schist soils at 600 meters of altitude, it's dark in the glass, elegant and chalky on the palate. A beautiful wine with some crunchy red fruit and great acidity. In 2016, Tiago had to buy one new barrel, which he aged a small part of the Tinta Francisca in. This lends some subtle notes of oak, that have integrated nicely in the bottle. Lovely now, this is a great wine to keep in mind for fall feasts. -EL
The Xisto Ilimitado is a delightful entry into the wines of Luis Seabra's latest project. This is a red blend of Touriga Franca, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Roriz, Rufete, Tinta Barroca, Malvasia Preta and Deonzelinho Tinto. It shows soft tannins, notes of pepper, spice, smoked meat, and bright dark fruit. Backed by a strong mineral presence and great acidity, this wine shows a velvety depth in the finish. Almost Saint-Joseph in profile, this wine will age incredibly well, but can be drunk now with any roasted meat or game. JDC
Having spent nearly a decade shaping the wine program at Dirk Niepoort’s eminent Douro estate, Seabra’s wines are a sublime example of the terroir of his native Douro Valley. His wines are always terroir-driven, and his dedication to expressions of schist-soil is the most important factor in his wine-making. Xisto Illimatado Branco (a Portuguese analogue to the idea of a “village” level Burgundy) is a field-blend of Rabigato, Codega, Gouveiu and Viosinho from 30-45 year-old vines, planted at high elevation in Cima Corgo, a subregion in the Douro Valley that experiences extreme variances in temperature (allowing an extended hanging period for the fruit). The wine offers the closest expression to Chablis outside of Burgundy: bright acidity, ultra-expressive minerality, with notes of ripe citrus, green apple, slate minerals. Seabra’s wines can be aged for another decade, but can be enjoyed today with oysters, scallops, and rock shrimp tempura. JDC
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
From Portugal's oldest organic certified estate, this is a red from the Castelão grape, a distinct Portuguese variety that has some family ties to Alfrochiero, and is mostly found in the southern part of the country. This is de stemmed, then foot stomped in stone lagars before aging in large old barrels. Like Alfrochiero, Castelão offers rusticity, and some dark fruit and foresty aromatics. There are subtle tannins here, but it's truly a very elegant and graceful wine, with all elements in a nice balance. -EL
We are delighted to have the first vintage of the Ramilo family’s Malvasia. From two hectares of rare and ungrafted vines in Colares, about one kilometer from the Atlantic. The soil here is comprised of clay, under about a meter of sand. The vines are trained low to the sand, permitting longer maturation of the fruit, while the light and heat reflected by the sand raises the fairly low temperature. After an October harvest period, 50% of the wine is fermented in stainless steel, while the other 50% is fermented on the skins in an open air lagar for seven days. This skin contact gives the Malvasia gorgeous notes of orange blossom, sea spray, plush flowers and salt. The palate continues these notes, along with the classic Colares profile of minerality, salinity, crisp acidity and tart citrus. This is one of our favorite wines, made for a dish like seafood stews, salt cod, and shrimp tempura. JDC
Established in 1991 in Baião on granitic soils, Quinta de Santa Teresa is a family-owned and operated winery committed to low production wine making without using any synthetic products or herbicides. Their vines are located right on the border of Vinho Verde and the Douro, spanning only about 3 parcels. The believe wholly in low-intervention winemaking, and, as of 2019, they are certified organic. The Avesso vines for this cuvée come from terraces on granitic walls, making it a perfect environment for the grape to fully ripen. A savory, saline style of Vinho Verde, the wine is round and floral with delicious notes of citrus and green herbs. Along with its fantastic acidity, plush medium body and mineral-driven spine, this would pair perfectly with a seafood salad, fried calamari, or any summer salads. JDC
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
Tiago’s RAIZ Tinto is a co-ferment of roughly 90% Alfrocheiro, 10% Bical. From vines planted on clay-limestone soil, the grapes are hand-harvested in September, destemmed and co-fermented in 1000 liter tanks, followed by a short maceration and light pressing and 10 months in contact with the lees in raw cement tanks. Light bodied and zesty, Tiago’s wines are always backed by a heavy mineral presence. The palate shows notes of green herbs, slight grapefruit, sour cherry and some spice, with bright acidity and lovely structure. The wine certainly benefits from a slight chill before drinking. JDC
Tiago wasn’t born into a winemaking family. He began his career as a wine critic, travelling around his native Portugal, while yearning to be closer to the land. In 2012, Tiago and his father leased a vineyard in Bairrada, where his father is from, about 15 kilometers from the Atlantic. His project is not based on specific varieties, but a devotion towards crafting wines that reflect the influence of the ocean, and his sandy, clay-limestone terroir. The Raiz Macerado is 100% Loureiro which spends two months in concrete tanks macerating and aging, before being aged on the lees for about eleven months. The contact with the skin gives this white wine some soft tannin with zesty notes of lemon, flowers, green herbs and spice. JDC