Fabulous foursome boost our Iberian portfolio
This autumn, we are delighted to welcome our first wines from Lisboa (Quinta da Romeira) and Bairrada (Série Ímpar) to our Portugal portfolio, as well as new additions from Spain’s Basque Country (Bodega Agerre) and Galicia (Lagar de Pintos).
Quinta da Romeira, Lisboa, Portugal
Quinta da Romeira has been producing wines since 1703 and is one of the most prestigious estates in the Bucelas appellation. With 75 hectares planted mainly with Arinto, Quinta da Romeira is purported to be the largest Arinto vineyard in the world.
Located 15 miles north east of Lisbon, Bucelas is protected from the worst of the Atlantic weather systems by the Serra de Montejunto hills to the west and benefits from the moderating influence of the wide estuary of the Tagus river to the east. This favourable mesoclimate, combined with clay-limestone soils on rolling hills, provides the perfect growing environment for Portugal’s Arinto grape variety.
During the Peninsula Wars, the Duke of Wellington developed a taste for the estate’s wines and took them home to London as an offering to King George III. They soon gained a following in Britain, with celebrity fans including Charles Dickens and Lord Byron, and became known as ‘Lisbon’.
The property was bought by Sogrape in 2018. They have invested heavily in the property, improving the viticulture and putting the talented Antonio Braga (of Azevedo) in charge of winemaking. The ‘Prova Régia’ is made from 100% Arinto and is unoaked. This crisp, dry wine displays green apple and nettle aromas alongside characterful saline notes. It offers exceptional value for money from a region whose reputation is, once again, on the rise.
Série Ímpar, Bairrada, Portugal
‘Série Ímpar’ translates as ‘Experimental Series’, and is a new venture from the winemaking team at Sogrape. Their winemakers have been tasked with finding something new and innovative that they would like to experiment with – be it a grape variety, a zone or a production technique. The first wine in this series is the Sercialinho from Bairrada.
Sercialinho is a crossing of Sercial (of Madeira fame) and Alvarinho and, according to ‘Wine Grapes’, there were just nine hectares of this variety planted in the world in 2010, all of which were in Bairrada. The esteemed Luís Pato, who until now has been the only producer of this variety, thinks that its high acidity makes it comparable to Riesling.
Sogrape’s Quinta de Pedralvites estate in Bairrada has a 2.5 hectare plot of Sercialinho. When António Braga arrived in the region, he began vinifying all of the different grape varieties on the estate separately and was struck by the character of the wine that came from the Sercialinho plot. Like Luís Pato, he was impressed by its acidity. “I didn’t choose it for its uniqueness, but because it produces a wine driven by acidity, with an original yet classical aroma and with all of the ingredients to be capable of wonderful bottle ageing”, he explains.
In 2017, he decided to give this late ripening variety special treatment and fermented the wine in 500 litre barrels, one third of which were new oak. António decided against malolactic, in order to retain the tangy vibrancy that characterises this variety. However, the wine did go through a short period of bâtonnage post fermentation in order to encourage better integration of the oak, while still retaining the taut fruit that gives the wine its definition.
Only 1,900 bottles of this wine were produced. It is young and intriguing, with a nose that opens slowly in the glass to reveal a crystalline purity of lemony, waxy fruit. On the palate, the understated oak gives a lovely texture to the wine, while the acidity corsets the fruit, and drives the intensity of flavour through the finish which is, thanks in part to its 12% of alcohol, fresh and pure. It is a restrained yet compelling wine that will, we are certain, find its way into the pantheon of great Portuguese wines.
Lagar de Pintos, Rías Baixas, Spain
Lagar de Pintos is a small family estate located in the Salnés Valley, the most northerly subzone of the Rías Baixas appellation. It is run by two sisters, Marta and Carmen Castro-Pintos. Their traditional Galician ‘pazo’, or manor house, is a typical feature of the lush green countryside found here, just a few miles from the unspoilt beaches of the Atlantic coast. It has been in the Pintos family for four generations. Originally used as a farmstead where they kept sheep and cows, it wasn’t until the 1950s that their grandfather planted vines. Their father, Pepe Pintos, modernised the estate in the 1980s when the region started to embrace wine production following the revival of the Albariño grape variety.
Today, winemaker Marta manages the family’s 5.5 hectares of organically farmed Albariño, assisted by respected consultant viticulturalist Dominique Roujou de Boubée. The vineyards surrounding the house are divided into seven plots – Palomar, Gatiñeira, Requeixo, Cachadiña, La Escusa, Albar and Puente Arnela – each of which contains varying degrees of granite and sandy soils. Vines planted on soils with a higher proportion of granite tend to ripen earlier than those with more sand, allowing for up to 20 days difference in harvest dates between plots.
Lagar de Pintos Albariño is a finely balanced blend of fruit from these seven plots. They are each fermented separately using indigenous yeasts and aged on lees in stainless-steel tanks for seven to eight months. Marta avoids malolactic fermentation which helps the fresh, lively fruit that characterises this wine. The nose is scented with zesty citrus notes and is matched by a concentrated and grapefruit-accented palate. There is a saline trace on the finish which makes this a very flavourful and complex Albariño.
Bodega Agerre, Getariako Txakolina, Spain
The Agerre family’s 15 hectares of vineyards are planted on hillsides overlooking the medieval fishing village of Getaria and the Bay of Biscay, just a few miles from Spain’s gastronomic capital, San Sebastián. Emilio Agerre is the third generation of his family to make traditional-style Txakoli from the Hondarrabi Zuri grape variety.
The 20 to 30-year-old vines are planted on east-facing vineyards which help to maximise their exposure to the sun and to protect them from westerly winds. The proximity to the Atlantic means that the climate here is humid, mild and wet. As such, the vines are trained to a height of nearly two metres to provide the best possible ventilation, while the steep slopes and sandy soils, rich in organic matter, allow for excellent drainage.
Agerre’s Txakoli is made from 100% Hondarrabi Zuri. It is fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless-steel tanks and spends six weeks on its lees. This naturally low-alcohol, dry wine displays classic green apple and fresh lemon notes with a vibrant, sea-salty spritz.