The Appellation: Colares Portugal
only 50 acres of vineyard land planted
The Varietal: Ramisco
almost impossible to find outside of Colares
Why we love it:
A wine truly like no other, it’s absolutely incredible.
As with all the wines we acquire, a unique site is key to discovering wines with a remarkable and unmistakable pedigree.
Like us, adverse conditions can bring out the best, Colares being no exception.
We find it utterly delightful and on the cusp of being known beyond the world of sommeliers.
We feel the Colares story is one that will continue to be told, and told best filled in your glass.
Burgundy meets the Canary Islands in Piedmont. The elegance of burgundy with the herbaceous saline component of the islands, and the sturdy structure of Nebbiolo.
The best of both, truly, you must try it.
The Portuguese use the word “Saudade” to describe an ardent state of missing, a certain melancholic joy.
We don’t have the English equivalent, so allow me to paint a picture.
It’s the Sunday afternoon spent with your family over a roasted chicken, one that to this day never smelled or tasted as good.
Saudades is the sensation of summer, when time was of little consequence.
Only the two of you remain in the restaurant… Saudade is the remembered taste of that wine.
Perhaps more, I feel we all have a bit of Saudades right now.
For us, the month of June always meant a visit to Portugal.
So, with a bit of Saudade, we present this wine to you.
With, ungrafted, pre-phylloxera singularity delivered in it’s most beautiful sense…
The Ramisco grape, vitis vinifera, the red varietal we will focus on today.
It is grown only in the Colares region of Portugal, almost impossible to find outside of the area.
Because of that singularity it is difficult to relate it to any other grape.
The best varietal parallels are purely subjective when an original wine conveys such distinct burgundy elegance, a Listán negro herbaceous salinity, and a Nebbiolo spine.
The Vineyards are planted about two miles from the Atlantic Ocean.
Located on the southwestern tip of the Lisboa region, Portugal’s greatest poet Luis de Camoes described the area as onde a terra se acaba e o mar começa
(“where the land ends and the sea begins”).
The vines are planted in the sand. Not sandy soil, but truly in the sand, known locally as chao de areia.
You might remember from several other newsletters, that sand, being a non prolific phylloxera ground, means that the vines are in original root stock and ungrafted.
I like the description by Eric Asimov of The New York Times,
“(The) vines resemble green serpents snaking along the sand. It’s as if vines from a more conventional region had come to the beach on vacation and had collapsed in a deep slumber.”
The wind off the coast is simply too harsh and, traditionally, the vines are buried under the sand to protect them.
The History of winemaking in Colares dates back to the 13th century, when the would-be King of Portugal, Alfonso III was living in France.
It is said that in addition to usurping the throne from his brother, he brought the Ramisco grape to Portugal.
At the time ancient writers praised the wine from the area.
The praise and adoration continued on in to the late 1800s, when the wine purportedly had the most noble character, possessing all the requirements and qualities of a great French wine.
In fact, many people were trying to pass lesser wines as Colares during the height of the region’s popularity.
In the 1940s approximately 2,500 acres of vines planted; however, because the land is a long-standing getaway for Lisbon’s royalty as well as a prized seaside destination, the vineyards diminished.
Why Saudade? Because, as with all things beautiful, time and people can neglect the good.
We hope to see… we trust to see a strong revival in the area, one in which the melancholy of Saudades will be tempered with the joy.