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.
Dão—one of the oldest established wine regions in Portugal—is located primarily on a plateau that is sheltered on three sides by the granite mountain ranges of Serra da Estrela, Serra do Caramulo and Serra da Nave. This helps the area maintain its temperate climate, away from the effects of the nearby Atlantic Ocean. The region experiences abundant rainfall in the winter months and long, warm dry summers leading up to harvest. This is one of the country’s highest in altitude wine growing regions, with vineyards planted from 200-1000 masl.
Located in Dão, near the village of Penalva do Castelo, Quinta de Vegia currently has 20 hectares of vineyard. Carefully selected varieties (Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Alfrocheiro, Tinto Cão, Encruzado and Bical) are planted on fertile, granitic, sandy soils. All vineyards are farmed sustainably.
Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo in Spain) can make rich, lively red wines that combine elegance and robustness, copious berry fruit and spicy flavour. The vines are very vigorous and productive and adapt well to different climates and soils, although they prefer hot, dry climates on sand or clay-limestone. Touriga Nacional is a thick-skinned grape whose skins are rich in colour and tannins, giving excellent structure and aging capacity. It also has wonderful, intense flavours: floral and fruity with ripe blackcurrants, raspberries and complex hints of herbs and licorice.
Harvested by hand in the evening and early morning to ensure cool grapes. There is a “hands off” approach to winemaking here. Long maceration on the skins and gentle punchdowns by hand. The wine is aged in stainless steel to preserve primary aromas. Unfined and unfiltered.
A new, fresh style of Dão, but with plenty of signature ripeness. The fruit is still dark, blueberry, cassis, plum, but acidity rather than firm tannin provides the balance. Serve lightly chilled. A great burger wine or elevate to a pairing with Prime Rib and it will do equally well.