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Producer profile – Herdade do Portocarro

Posted on 18th January 2019 by JN Wine

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Producer profile – Herdade do Portocarro

Herdade do Portocarro are a relatively recent addition to the JN portfolio but in the short time since their arrival they have become firm favourites of customers and staff alike looking both for quality, structured wines at an affordable price as well as some of the finest and most complex examples that Portugal has to offer.

Located just an hour and a half’s drive southeast of Lisbon and 50km inland from the Atlantic Ocean in the Torrão parish of the Alcácer do Sal district, the estate is officially part of the Península de Setúbal demarcated wine region but geographically lies within Alentejo. The resulting wines tend to be thought of as “Alentejo with Atlantic features”, owing to their unmistakable style and personality.

Set next to the “carro” – the highest point in the region – and overlooking the tiny village of São Romão, the estate’s 18 ha of vines extend over the south-facing slopes where they benefit from exceptional exposure to the sun as well as ideal drainage. Influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, the estate enjoys a temperate climate that manifests in hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters resulting in wines that are phenolically ripe with full fruit and tannic structure but always mediated by a fresh acidity and distinct mineral backbone.

This region in which the estate is set has been inhabited since ancient times and has a vine-growing tradition dating back just as far as proven by vestiges of coins and wine amphorae found in the area. Herdade do Portocarro itself however is anything but ancient in its operations, with a fabulously modern winery that has revived a series of lutte raisonnée traditional vinification processes which today are considered state-of-the-art amongst the best wines – in particular the fermentation in French oak vats.

Herdade do Portocarro is headed by the imaginative and effervescent José Mota Capitão, renowned in his native country for being somewhat of a “wild” wine producer – that was the title of an article written about him in Vinum magazine (“The Wild Child of Setubal”). A huge fan of some iconic rock bands, he explains how his wines – like his favourite band The Who – have a rebellious streak to them whilst maintaining their complexity:

“My wines are not supposed to be delicate, predictable and perfect, but rather complex, badly-tempered, with character and personality, a tiny bit of chaos, original, pure and mighty…”

José’s philosophy of rebellion as well as consummate preservation crosses the whole production process and is aimed at obtaining top quality raw material.  With minimal intervention by man and limited yields and production, he aims to allow his wines to express their full vigour and potential on their own, and without “artifices or makeup”.

It is this unique approach and spirit that has led Herdade do Portocarro to be widely regarded within Portugal as one of the country’s finest wine producers. Their top red – the Cavalo Maluco – has won best Portuguese red at the Grand Jury European, while the winery itself has been rated as Portugal’s best two years running by one of the country’s biggest wine magazines “Essencia do Vinho”. The wines have also received acclaim from some of the world’s top critics including Jancis Robinson. Tasting notes included below:

Herdade Do Portocarro Cavalo Maluco Tinto 2012

“Round, toasty nose. Very welcoming. Lovely round tobacco-scented fruit with some evolution but a little bit dry (drought?) on the end. Mellow and with bags of character. Much better than an older vintage previously tasted. 16 points. Drink 2018 -2028.”

(Jancis Robinson, JR Purple Pages, August 2018)

Herdade Do Portocarro Partage Galego Dourado White 2015

“This is a varietal version of the very rare grape traditionally associated with Carcavelos near Lisbon. Tangy nose with hint of furniture polish! Edge of something a bit waxy. Lots of body and interest. Saline hint. Lots of lime. Light astringency on the end. Very small production. A real curiosity. Wonderful to have a chance to taste it unblended. 16.5 points.”

(Jancis Robinson, JR Purple Pages, July 2018)

 

Herdade Do Portocarro Autocarro No38 Branco 2017

“Arinto with Galego Dourado. Excellent entry level white. Round and peachy on the palate with very firm structure. Chalky finish. Very refreshing! Long. Hint of lime. Good Value. 16 Points.”

(Jancis Robinson, JR Purple Pages, July 2018)


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