The 2017 vintage (alas, no longer available) was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2019 edition article The Joy of Clay on amphora-produced wines (see blue link below).
Founded in 2002, Aphros is a project designed to combine ecological and economical aspects to create true sustainability. Their belief is that nature and labor should combine in a meaningful way and they seek to capture this through biodynamic viticulture, letting the uniqueness of the land shine through the fruit for inimitable wines. Loureiro and Vinhão have grown in these vineyards for centuries and serve as the reference point for the region.
The grapes are sourced from the Lima sub-region and the vines of Casal do Paço are situated in a south facing amphitheater north of the Lima River on gentle slopes with cool Atlantic breezes.
The winemaking is traditional, taking place in the basement beneath the main house. The cave is buried and naturally cool and damp. They once again straddle the line between modern and traditional character with the addition of modern stainless steel equipment and traditional open top lagars, granite stone tanks, for red wine production.
To see an information sheet and tasting note for this wine from Aphros, please click on the blue link below.
This unique reading of the lively Loureiro grape replaces its usual perfume with earthy, baked apple aromas and adds a fine but grippy seam of tannins into what is a savoury yet quite electrifying wine.
The earlier 2015 vintage was awarded 87 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2017 edition review of Douro Table Wines (see blue link below). It is subjective, of course, but we judge the 2017 to be of at least a very similar quality.
This producer, founded in 1952, is named after the legendary Porto matriarch Dona Antónia Ferreira. Affectionately nicknamed 'Ferreirinha' by her countrymen, the house pays homage to her memory and was the first house in the region dedicated to making light wines. It has 520 hectares of vineyard in the Douro in all of its three sub-regions: Lower Corgo, Upper Corgo and Douro Superior. The winemaking is headed up by Luis Sottomayor, who restrains the Douro’s natural exuberance to produce wines that have a freshness, like Esteva and Papa Figos, allied to a lovely depth and texture, as with Vinha Grande Tinto and Quinta da Leda.
This white blend comes from relatively high-altitude vineyards above the river Douro. The grapes were harvested by hand in the highlands and plateaus of the region and were selected for their balance between phenolic maturity and excellent freshness. The soil in the Douro Valley is schistous; a slate-like metamorphic rock that is rich in nutrients and has useful water retention properties.
2017 was a very warm and dry year for the Douro with almost every month from December 2016 to August 2017 recording below average rainfall. Average temperatures were much higher than normal, especially in the crucial spring months of March, April, and May. This meant that the vine’s growing cycle was much more advanced than usual, often being one or two weeks ahead of the expected schedule. The advanced maturation of the vines and grapes coupled with heatwaves in June and July meant that the 2017 harvest was destined to be one of the earliest ever recorded. Harvest began in the last week of August and finished in most areas by the end of September, a time when most harvests usually begin.
On arrival at the winery of Casa Ferreirinha in Vila Real, the grapes were destemmed and softly crushed. They were pressed and the must clarified by static decanting at low temperatures. This was followed by a long alcoholic fermentation at controlled temperatures between 16ºC-18ºC. After fermentation, around 20% of the wine was aged in used casks for three months, the remainder held in stainless steel tanks.
This wine is made using Viosinho 25%, Malvasia 20%, Fina Arinto/Pedernã 15%, Códega 15%, Gouveio (Verdelho) 15%, Moscatel 5%, Rabigato 5%.
This wine is lemon yellow in colour with golden lights. On the nose, intense floral notes stand out with hints of tropical fruit and earthy, slightly shrubby tones. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied with a lively and well-integrated acidity, alongside floral notes and touches of white peaches. The finish is long and fragrant.
Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their May 2019 "Weekday Wines" (see blue link below).
The Esporão project began in the Alentejo from an irrepressible desire to make the finest wines. This is the basis of everything they do. Part of the Alentejo’s montado ecosystem (cork oak forests), in Portugal, Herdade do Esporão has extraordinary conditions for agriculture – large thermal amplitudes, poor and various soils and extraordinary biodiversity that helps them produce in balance with the environment. With 691.9 hectares of vineyards, olive groves and other crops, they grow using organic methods .
Please click the blue link below to see an excellent and informative tasting note / information sheet about this wine from the winemakers at Esporao.
Antonio Maçanita is one of the most dynamic, brilliant young winemakers in Portugal, crafting wines everywhere from the Azores archipelago to Alentejo. In the Douro, this brother and sister team - with sister Joana - has managed to pool their considerable winemaking talent to showcase the breadth of terroir in the oldest classified European appellation. Sourcing from sites spread across the 3 subzones of the Douro, the Maçanitas use classic Douro grape varieties with modern winemaking techniques to produce wines of balance, elegance and true Douro character. Somehow managing to combine Antonio’s wink-and-nod irreverence and Joana’s steadfast pursuit ofpreserving Portuguese winemaking traditions, this brother and sister team has captured the spirit of the Douro as only they are able.
Vines mainly (80%) tended in schist soil at 750m (2300ft) elevation in Baixo Corgo, Douro, with some 20% of the grapes taken from the more altitudinous Douro Superior. The average temperature of the former is the lowest in the Douro, and ripeness is often a challenge here, but it also lends an intrinsic freshness to the wine.
Hand harvested. Whole bunch press, cold fermentation using wild yeasts in stainless steel. Racked to stainless steel for 6 months aging before bottling.
70% Viosinho, 20% Codega do Larinho, 10% Gouveio (aka Godello).
See also the above in more diagrammatic form from Macanita (blue link below).
Maçanita’s Douro Branco exemplifies the confluence of richness and elegant minerality that is the hallmark of Douro whites. Bright yellow-gold. On the nose, fresh floral aromas comingle with ripe yellow and green orchard fruit and a touch of slate. On the palate, bright and juicy, with mouthfilling concentration and refreshing acidity. A core of green and gold apple, pear and white pepper are wrapped with pleasant floral and mineral flavors on the long finish.
The Meireles family have nurtured the region’s varietal characteristics to produce wines with a true sense of place. The Vinho Verde boasts eye-catching packaging and a typical fresh style of this type of wine.
After the grapes are picked by hand, the grapes are pressed at low pressure. Fermentation then takes place in stainless tanks at a controlled temperature (12 to 14ºC) over three weeks.
This wine has fruity, floral notes, which are fresh and well balanced. The nose is reminiscent of aromatic green apple, melon and white peach. The palate is balanced and smooth with a generous texture and a touch of petillance. White peach, apples and tangerine on the palate leading to a long, crisp finish.