Founded in the mid 1980s, Casa de Cello is the passion project of João Pedro Araujo. With four generations of family experience in viticulture behind him and an ambition to produce quality Vinho Verde, João decided to move away from the light, spritzy, mass-produced white wine styles of the region and focus, instead, on vineyard health and new oenological technology. João’s family estate, ‘Quinta de Sanjoanne’, is a 14-hectare property located in the town of Mancelos, in the historic Minho province in the far north of Portugal. Here, the focus is on sustainably growing grapes native to the region and producing wines with character, depth and the capacity to evolve over time. In the late 1990s, the family acquired their second estate, ‘Quinta da Vegia’. Located south-east of Vinho Verde, in the Dão region, 20 hectares of carefully-selected native varieties were planted and now produce some of the most exciting red wines in the country.
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, to say the least, given the constant threat of rot, fungus and frost. Quinta de Sanjoanne is located in the Amarante sub-region of Vinho-Verde. Although Amarante is located in the Minho inland, the Quinta is just 25 km from the Atlantic Ocean.
Over the years, Vinho Verde growers have developed several creative ways to minimize threats to their grapes including trellising vines along strings and wires, arching overhead, pergola-style and even climbing up the trunks of trees. These methods were developed to grow the grapes high enough to allow air to flow around the plants. Quinta de Sanjoanne’s 14 ha of estate vineyards are planted on fertile granitic soils. All vineyards are farmed sustainably.
Alvarinho, one of Portugal’s finest and most characterful, was also one of the first to be bottled as a single variety here. Its full-bodied, subtly fragrant wines are complex with delicate aromas reminiscent of peach, lemon, passion fruit, lychee, orange zest, jasmine, orange blossom and lemon balm. The wines are delicious young, but they can also age well, often for ten years or more. Malvasia Fina wines are subtle, not particularly intense, reasonably fresh and moderately complex. They can display notes of beeswax and nutmeg, and the wine may appear slightly smoky even if it has not been matured in wood.
This Alvarinho was hand-harvested in the evening, to ensure cool grapes for a stable fermentation, from the finest vineyard plots of the Quinta da Sanjoanne . After a touch of skin contact, the wine is fermented in stainless steel, at low temperatures, for about 20 days.
A truly elegant Alvarinho, notes of orange and wildflowers explode out of the glass. The wine has some weight to it, but is supremely balanced by vibrant acidity. Mouthwateringly fresh on the palate, with flavours of Meyer lemon, apricot and stony minerality. A perfect partner to grilled sardines, served drizzled with olive oil and fresh garlic.