Lisboa and beyond! Introducing Vale da Capucha and a few new Portugese arrivals

5/31/18 -

Pedro and Sonia Marques Vale da Capucha

Ever since a brief trip to Lisbon and the surrounding wine regions earlier this year, I've caught the bug for Portugese wines. There's a lot to learn about the entire country, and the various traditions of winemaking, so I admit I'm not an expert, but if I may, I'd like to share my enthusiasm for the wines I have discovered. Appyling the Chambers Street Wines filter (organic viticulture, indigenous yeast and low intervention wine-making are a must) allows us to narrow our focus, and the results have been dynamic and delicious! 

Vale da Capucha is a small estate in the Torres Vedras DOC, within the Lisboa wine region, about 10km from the Atlantic Ocean (approximately 45 minutes northwest from Lisbon). Here the passionate Pedro Marques (pictured above with his wife and partner, Sonia) has been busy replanting indigenous grapes and converting his family's estate to organic and biodynamic farming. I had the pleasure of visiting Pedro last winter and spending time with him at his home. Walking through the vineyards and visiting his large garage-cellar was a treat, and the wines were truly unique, especially from the local grape Arinto, which transmits the minerality of the soil and the saltiness of the ocean in a remarkable way. In the cellar, winemaking is all low SO2, with occasional no sulfur bottlings. The vineyards are situated on a fault of Kimmeridgian limestone, with some clay, and they lend a linear mineral character that I found to be present in all of the wines. Pedro's work is impressive and his commitment to the Lisboa region and it's history is noteworthy. The region isn't well known even in Portugal, so his efforts will hopefully pay off and gain the area some recognition. Maybe he'll even convince some neighbors to pursue the organic/biodynamic route! (We originally learned about Pedro from Eric Texier, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of Pedro's project, and a fan of the wines!)

Sara and Antonio from Casa de Mouraz

António Lopes Ribeiro and Sara Dionisio are the team behind the Casa de Mouraz, which is based in their native Dão region. Theirs was the first estate in the Dão to receive organic certification in 2000, and the estate converted to biodynamic agriculture in 2006. I'll be writing more about them later this year, but with summer arriving, it seems appropriate to highlight a mineral white wine they make from organic vineyards in the Vinho Verde region, north of Dão.


Folias de Baco is an estate that 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.

Antonio Madeira (photo from Selection de la Vina blog)

Antonio Madeira is a young winemaker situated in the Dao, in the foothills of the Serra da Estrela mountain range (the highest mountain range in Portugal). He has spent a considerable amount of time hunting down old vineyards and works all of his parcels organically, with minimal additives in the cellar. His wines are all field blends, and usually cofermented, as each parcel has multiple varieties and Antonio feels that  they were planted this way for a reason. It sounds progressive and new, but in fact this was how wine was made in Portugal many generations ago! From what I've tasted so far, we will be looking forward to many years of great wines from this young adventurer.

Eben Lillie

You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered