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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
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
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.
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
This is a single-vineyard bottling from Seabra, built around 30% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), 30% Touriga Franca, 10% Tinta Amarela, 5% Tinta Barroca, 5% Rufete, 5% Touriga Brasileira, 5% Donzelinho Tinto, 5% Malvasia Preta, 5% Touriga Feme. Aged in old French oak barrels, the wine has a unbelievable depth and purity based around bright fruit, minerality and soft tannins. Notes of cassis, currant, cherry, and tobacco leaf remind me of young Burgundy. A stellar single-vineyard wine that can showcase the very best of Portuguese terroir. The minerality and weight within this bottle is astounding, and I can only imagine what this wine will look like in 10 years. A masterful bottling from Luis. 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
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
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
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