At the end of September, my wife and I flew to Portugal again (for the fourth time this year!) to dig even deeper into the subject of Portuguese wines and this time also to look around in the Dão region. Just to calm any worried voices who fear that I am no longer a real Frenchman: don't worry, there is no danger. Nevertheless, we intend to redesign the Maître Philippe & Filles wine program, curate it better, in order to be able to present you with an even more special offer. This includes reducing the proportion of French wines a bit, whereby we take great care to only offer you excellent, affordable and special wines from mainly direct imports, which you will not find anywhere else in Germany. At the same time we will expand the range of Portuguese wines. I won't go so far as to say that Portugal is the new Tuscany, but the country manages like no other to establish a connection between the past and tradition on the one hand and the future with its modern wines on the other. As our customer, you can only benefit from this, especially since the quality and price-performance ratio are really convincing.
This time our tour takes us back to the Douro Valley, which we traveled to in the summer, and then to the Dão region, a little further south inland.
We have our first appointment with Pedro Maria Barbosa in Vila Nova Foz de Cõa in the Douro Alto. Pedro is responsible for all the details of viticulture at Quinta do Vale Meão and owns a few vineyards in Amarante from which he produces his own wine. He receives support from the oenologist of Quinta do Vale Meão.
We are particularly enthusiastic about Pedro's fantastic Vihno Verde called "Clip" from the autochthonous grape variety Loureiro (laurel), which may replace our current Vinho Verde. It is light, beautifully fruity and has only 11% alcohol.
We tried it on the terrace of the Douro Museum in Foz Cõa, where we had a wonderful view over the Douro and Cõa rivers. We ate typical Portuguese petiscos and felt like God in Portugal ;)
In the evening we drove to Rita Marques Ferreira, whose wines (Conceito, Contraste, Bastardo and Port wines) we already have in our program and who is part of the "Young Portuguese Winemakers" group. Rita's vineyards are located in Cedovim at an altitude of between 500 and 700 meters. The red grapes grow on slate, the white ones on granite.
When we got to her at around 7 p.m., she and her crew were in the process of cleaning out the cellar facilities to the loud heavy metal sound and with a glass of gin in hand. This shows very clearly that a new generation of winegrowers is now in charge.
Your drive is passion. Passion for her profession and the vision to combine the tradition of Portuguese viticulture with the knowledge and techniques acquired abroad in order to produce exceptional wines and bring Portugal back to the top of Europe's wine countries. Accordingly, the working hours for Rita, her oenologists and friends are quite unusual: during the fermentation (natural and spontaneous) they spend the night in the cellars to make sure that the temperatures do not climb too high.
After an impromptu tasting of the new wines (brut, cuvée and port), we were invited to dinner with the whole family. It was a great pleasure for us to now also welcome Rita's husband Luís, their two children, Rita's mother (who started it all), her grandfather, the oenologists and friends and last but not least, the domestic worker Fatima (cook, domestic worker and nanny in one person). ) to get to know. After dinner we returned to our monastery hotel - while Rita and her troupe ended the night in the basement.
After a day off, we continue our route and drive to the Dão, which can also be described as the Burgundy of Portugal. The cultivation area lies on a high plateau (400 to 600 meters) with predominantly granitic rocky and sandy soils, which is surrounded and protected by three mountain ridges.
Here we especially want to meet Antonio Madeira, a Franco-Portuguese from Paris whose family comes from Gouveia, a small town in the Centro region. We also really want to meet Alvaro Castro from Quinta da Saes. We kill two birds with one stone and just meet both of them together, which is not a problem as they know each other well and also produce wines together. Thus, Antonio produces all his wines with the help of Alvaro's oenologist Luís Miguel, whom we had already met at the Lisbon Wine Fair: he produces his white wines at Alvaro, since their facility has all the necessary equipment that these delicate wines require. He produces the red wines in his own cellar.
Antonio just returned from Lisbon the evening before our appointment. We find him at work: he is busy pounding his red wine cuvées and checking the temperatures. He interrupts his work for us and drives us out into the vineyards. Antonio is what is known as a garage winemaker. This means that he does not own his own vineyards, but rents them from his friends, relatives and neighbors. And the work that needs to be done is done by the whole family together: father, mother, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents-in-law... everyone lends a hand. The special thing about Antonio's wines is that he currently works almost exclusively with very old vines that only exist in this region. We are introduced to the whole team. Then a journalist who is writing a book on old vines joins us and Antonio takes us to some of his vines, which are more than a hundred years old.
Back in his wine cellar, we can taste the fresh approach of his wines and the more advanced wines. Afterwards we are invited to lunch together. About 11 to 12 people squeeze into the small kitchen, there is bacalhau with zucchini from the garden, the well-known Portuguese cheese from the Serra da Estrela and of course Antonio's wine, which the whole family is so proud of.
Our final stop takes us to Luís Pato, the King of Baga, whose family has been making wines since the 18th century. We are particularly interested in his fantastic Crémant-style sparkling wines, made from the famous Baga grape, from Touriga Nacional and Maria Gomes. For this we drive to the Bairrada region, west of the Dão, between Coimbra and Aveiro. We meet Luís and his youngest daughter Maria, who has visited us before in Berlin, and they invite us to an extensive tasting of their wines, which we are joined by some Japanese and Canadian sommeliers. Our conclusion: Pato is not called the king of baga for nothing! We are particularly enthusiastic about his "Espumantes", sparkling wines, which are characterized by a particularly fine creaminess. We immediately ordered the sparkling Maria Gomes from 2014 and the sparkling Baga Rosé from 2012 and are already looking forward to welcoming them to our range very soon.
So you can see: there is still a lot to discover here... And we would like to share that with you!
That's why you can taste the finest wines from our discovery tours as part of a Festa Portuguesa, which we will be holding on October 16th and 17th . On this occasion we are visited by the three winemakers Luis Louro from the Alentejo, whose Alento wines you already know and love, Rita Marques Ferreira, the passionate heavy metal winemaker from the Conceito winery ("concept"), and Antonio Madeira. They serve their wines (Rita and Luis on both days, Antonio on Saturday) and report on the " Revolution on the Douro ", curse and blessing of autochthonous grape varieties and why winegrowers should travel more. You can also taste more than 10 wines by the glass and ask our guests in a personal conversation (all three speak English) what you always wanted to know about Portuguese wine...