Antonio Lopes Ribiero and Sara Dionisio left their steady jobs in the art world in Lisbon and moved back to Mouraz, Antonio’s birthplace where his family has had vineyards for many generations. The land had been farmed organically before, and that’s how Sara and Antonio wished to continue. Making wine in their tiny winery, adjacent to the local village church and just a stone’s throw away from the house Antonio was born in, they have deep generational ties to their village, Mouraz, and its terroir. In the cellar, there is a marriage of old and traditional, with modern approaches. Gentle pressings, natural yeast starters, long lees contact in the wine and minimal handling are the time-honored practices. Stainless steel tanks with temperature control and pneumatic presses represent the modern improvements. The results are clear: fresh and pleasurable wines with pure expressions of the older grape vines from which they were sourced and distinct transparency to the terroir they have grown up on.
Vinho Verde is located within the Minho region of northern Portugal, the largest wine producing region in the country. The region is comprised of 9 sub-regions with borders starting at the Minho River, which separates northern Portugal from Spain, and following the Atlantic coast south to Oporto. South of Oporto, the wine region’s border follows and then crosses the Douro River. Thanks to its coastal Atlantic setting, Vinho Verde’s climate is mild and damp. This makes planting, protecting and harvesting the grapes very challenging, given the constant threat of rot, fungus and frost. The granitic vineyards of Casa de Mouraz sit in the valley of the Lima River, just 7 km from the Atlantic Ocean.
Casa de Mouraz vineyards are farmed naturally and biodynamically. Vinho Verde can be quite rainy at times, so it is vital that care is taken in the vineyards to mitigate any mildew, while the intensely hot summers need careful canopy management to prevent sugar spikes.
Vinhão, also known as Sousao in Alentejo, the Duoro and Dão, is a purple-black skinned grape known for its high levels of acidity and mouth-puckering tartness. It is one of the few grapes with dark red skins, so the juice that comes from it is already dark red. This is good, because the skins are thick and can give high levels of tannins with too much contact. Used to darken Port wines, this tooth-staining variety is also the red wine of Vinho Verde, where the rich and hearty foods of Northern Portugal are used as a foil to its zesty, tartness.
After a manual harvest, the grapes are crushed and pressed for 3 hours on the skins. The skins are removed before spontaneous fermentation, using indigenous yeasts, to moderate tannins. The wine then matures in stainless steel for at least a year before bottling.
A truly unique red wine. There are some “funky” earthy and vegetal notes on the nose, along with plum and blackberry aromas. The palate is electric, with mouth-puckering tartness mixing with tingling acidity and sour cherry. After the palate adjusts to the style, you get some riper raspberry and currant hints. Typically served with roasted pork dishes, this light-to-medium bodied wine pairs well with a fattier fish.