Malcolm Jolley talks to Portugal’s 2018 winemaker of the year, António Maçanita…
I had to taste 23 wines before I could talk to António Maçanita for the interview below, conducted at a trade tasting of his wines held earlier this month in Toronto. The wines were reds, whites, rosées, sparklings and rosé sparkling. They came from the three regions of Portugal that Maçanita and his family make wine in their name: Alentejo in the South, Douro in the North and the Azore Islands 1,000 miles way west in the Atlantic Ocean. From Alentejo I tasted his crisp SEXY label of traditional method bubbles made mostly with indigenous grapes, as well as the wines of FitaPreta, made with the local varieties that are suited to the region’s hot climate, so the wines were fresh and alive. From the Douro I tasted through the serious wines of gastronomy he makes with his sister Joana under their family name Macçnita. And I tasted through the exciting, salty, volcanic wines of The Azores Wine Company, which is leading the way for those islands’ wine revolution. I tasted through all the wines listed below and enjoyed them each thoroughly, every one very much it’s own individual but also unmistakenly part of the same bright, fruit forward family. And I was excited to get António Maçanita in front of the GFR camera to ask him what drove him to make them all for the interview below.
Email versions of this post won’t display embedded videos. To watch the interview at GFR, please click here.
Azores Islands (wines from Pico, São Miguel, Graciosa):
Azores Wine Company Arinto dos Açores 2017, $48.95 (6/cs)
Arinto dos Açores is a unique grape native to the Azores Islands. Although it shares the same name and good acidity of the mainland Arinto, the grapes are not related. This was whole bunch pressed and fermented in stainless steel barrels.
Azores Wine Company Verdelho O Original 2017, $48.95 (6/cs)
This is Verdelho o Original, aka Verdelho do Pico, indigenous to the Azores and Madeira. This is a different species than the Douro grape often called Verdelho, which is the Portuguese name for Godello. From volcanic basalt soils, and grapes 15–35 years old. Whole bunch pressed, this was fermented and aged for 6 months in stainless steel barrels, with bâtonnage. Unmistakably saline and mineral, with tropical Azorean pineapple, and passionfruit, and fresh, zesty acidity. 4596 bottles produced.
Azores Wine Company Rosé Vulcânico I.G. Açores 2018, $22.95 (12/cs)
A field blend of 13 vineyards 5-30+ years old, including Aragonês, Agronómica, Castelão, Malvarisco, Merlot, Touriga Nacional, Saborinho, and Syrah. Whole bunch pressed, fermented and aged in stainless steel barrels.
Azores Wine Company Tinto Vulcânico I.G. Açores 2017, $33.95 (6/cs)
A field blend of 13 vineyards 5-30+ years old, including Aragonês, Agronómica, Castelão, Malvarisco, Merlot, Touriga Nacional, Saborinho, and Syrah. Whole bunch pressed and fermented and aged in stainless steel barrels. 3330 bottles produced.
Maçanita Os Canivéis White 2016, $43.95 (6/cs)
A field blend from vines 52-70 years old in the granitic soiled As Olgas vineyard, at 500m altitude in the Cima Corgo. This spent ten months in a mix of stainless and new French oak (25%). 1333 bottles. 93 Wine Advocate.
Maçanita Touriga National Cima Corgo 2015, $59.95 (6/cs)
Sourced from Cima Corgo vines at 500m. This wine sees no oak. 2000 bottles produced. 91+ Wine Advocate.
Maçanita e SOUSAO ou sera Vinhão 2016, $45.95 (6/cs)
“Is it Sousão or Vinhão” references the two grape names used in Douro and Vinho Verde for this juicy red grape. Sourced from 50-year-old vines, this spent 11 months in new French oak. 1200 bottles produced.
Maçanita “As Olgas” Red 2016, $112.95 (6/cs)
A field blend of vines 85-100 years old, from the granitic soiled As Olgas vineyard, at 500m altitude in the Cima Corgo. Aged for ten months in neutral French oak. 1048 bottles. 92 Wine Advocate.
SEXY Sparkling Rosé Brut NV, $30.95 (6/cs)
A traditional method sparkling of 50% Touriga Nacional and 50% Castelão, from 4 different vintages. 6 g/L RS.
SEXY Sparkling Golden Globe Edition Brut Blanc de Blanc NV, $33.95 (6/cs)
A traditional method blend of 60% Roupeiro, 20% Arinto, and 20% Verdelho, from 4 different vintages. 6 g/L RS.
SEXY Explosion d’Amour Grande Cuvée 2014, $31.95 (6/cs)
Blend of equal parts Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for 18 months in a 60/40 mixture of used and new French oak. 7312 bottles produced.
FitaPreta White 2018, $19.95 (12/cs)
Field blend of 40% Antão Vaz, 40% Roupeiro, 20% Arinto from vines planted 1979-1989 on calcareous clay soils, 300- 400m in altitude. Native fermented in stainless barrels, where it was aged on lees for 6 months.
FitaPreta Branco de Talha Signature Series 2016, $35.95 (6/cs)
Field blend of 40% Antão Vaz, 40% Roupeiro, 20% Arinto from vines planted 1979-1989 on calcareous clay soils, 300- 400m in altitude. After native fermentation in stainless, this was racked to old 1000L amphora where it rested for one month before going back to stainless for 6 months. 90 Wine Advocate.
FitaPreta Branco de Pólvora Signature Series 2015, $37.95 (6/cs)
A blend of Verdelho and Arinto, native fermented. The name, white gunflint, refers to the distinct flintiness of this wine.
FitaPreta Branco de Indígenas Signature Series 2015, $37.95 (6/cs)
A blend of 80% Arinto, 20% Verdelho, fermented and aged for 12 months in neutral barrels.
FitaPreta Palpite White Reserva 2016, $39.95 (6/cs)
A blend of 50% Arinto, 18% Antão Vaz, and 24% Verdelho, aged for 12 months in French barrels, 30% of which were new. 90 Wine Advocate.
FitaPreta Red 2016, $20.95 (12/cs)
A blend of 40% Aragones, 30% Trincadeira, 30% Alicante Bouschet from vines planted 1979-1989 in rocky schist, 300-400m in altitude. Native fermented in stainless barrels, after which half the wine goes into French oak for 9 months.
FitaPreta Palpite Red Reserva 2015, $41.95 (6/cs)
A blend of 55% Aragonez, 30% Alicante Bouschet and 15% Touriga Nacional, aged for 18 months in 30% new French oak. 93 Wine Advocate.
FitaPreta Tinto de Castelão Signature Series 2015, $40.95 (6/cs)
Castelão from the granite-clay soils of the Serra d’Ossa Mountain, was aged for 12 months in neutral wood. 2230 bottles. 91+ Wine Advocate.
FitaPreta Baga ao Sol Red Signature Series 2015, $41.95 (6/cs)
Baga ao Sol translates as Baga from the South. Stainless steel fermentation.
FitaPreta A Touriga Vai Nua Signature Series 2016, $41.95 (6/cs)
Touriga Nacional with whole cluster fermentation and partial carbonic maceration, before 3 months in stainless.
FitaPreta A Trincadeira Não é Tão Preta Signature Series 2015, $47.95 (6/cs)
Trincadeira Não é Tão Preta translates as Trincadeira that isn’t that Black, and is in reference to Trincadeira Preta (aka Tinta Amarela).
FitaPreta Preta Grande Reserva Cuvée David Booth 2015, Alentejo, $124.95 (3/cs)
A blend of 58% Alicante Bouschet, 35% Aragonez, 7% Baga, aged for 24 months in 40% new French barrels.