The terroir by Herdade do Portocarro
According to the highly respected Larrousse Guide, terroir is a French word with no translation in any other language. Terroir means the most intimate relationship established between soil and a unique micro-climate. These are behind the birth of a specific type of grape, one that will freely express the quality, typicality and identity of a great wine – without one really understanding “why”. In Portocarro, we believe that the terroir also reflects the hand that interacts with the vineyard, the grapes, the grape must and their wines.
Our vineyards are divided into 3 different areas: in Portocarro (São Romão do Sado), by the river Sado, on the region’s highest hilltop facing South. Here the sun’s intensity during the day is massive and a light breeze coming from the ocean at night lowers the vineyard’s temperature to 16ºC. This enables the grapes to rest – whilst developing into their uniqueness – and to deliver an extremely fresh and elegant product. The terroir is characterized by a light clay soil with a high level of calcium and sílica.
In the Grândola hills, at Pêgo da Moura, we grow part of the white varieties (Antão Vaz and Arinto), benefiting from the ocean’s proximity and from a harsh schist soil, where the vineyard was painstakingly planted amongst rocks and slopes. A very windy, very cool piece of land with a terrific sun exposure.
Lastly, by the ocean, less than 5-6 km from Melides area, we have two types of vineyards: a century-old one (over 120 years), of “pé-franco” (no vine-grafting), where we produce a Boal Pé Franco (white) and a Castelão (red). Unique, fresh, mysterious, timeless! We also have new vineyards with Castelão (red), Galego Dourado, Sercial, Arinto and Antão Vaz (all white varieties). The soil is composed of black sand and is very deep, very cool, keeping us dreaming of the next vintage!
To all these factors, we add the rain, the sea breeze and the sunshine hours, but also one of the most important of them all: our minimal intervention, which is always decisive and significant. Portocarro’s terroir does not exist without the intervention, ideas and love from Pepe Mota Capitão, João Torres and António Rosado, combined with the commitment, work and care of Virgolino, Marco, Luísa and all the women who year after year kindly offer their expertise when dealing with the grapes – come rain or shine, when pruning, suckering and disbudding, during harvest or later in the winery!
All this configures the unique mystique of Portocarro’s terroir. We hope that when drinking one of our wines you will be able to feel all these features together. Features that mark our difference and singularity. In other words, we hope you will experience our own terroir.