“Portugal is a country where unique and impressive wines are produced.”
It was with this philosophy in mind, together with the usual spirit of adventure, that the winemaker João Portugal Ramos headed north.
He elected Monção and Melgaço sub-regions, in Vinho Verde region, to embrace his new project where the terroir makes it possible to produce distinctive wines with unique characteristics.
These impressive and captivating wines are having an increasing demand not only in the Portuguese market, but also abroad.
With the release of his first Alvarinho wine, with the guarantee of his signature, João Portugal Ramos strongly believes in the diversity and potential of all wine regions in Portugal.
Vinho Verde Demarcated Wine Region
Vinho Verde region was demarcated for the first time in 1908 by Law dated from September 18th and by Decree dated from October 1st, and then divided into six sub-regions: Monção, Lima, Basto, Braga, Amarante and Penafiel. However, it is only regulated in 1926.
The Demarcated Region of Vinho Verde is located in the northwest of Portugal in an area traditionally known as Entre-Douro-e-Minho. Cultural issues, microclimates, types of wine, grape varieties and vine's guiding systems forced the division of the demarcated region of Vinho Verde in nine sub-regions: Amarante, Ave, Baião, Basto, Cávado, Lima, Monção and Melgaço, Paiva , Sousa.
Orografically the region presents itself as "a wide amphitheater rising gradually from the maritime border to the inland " (Amorim Girão), exposed to the Atlantic Ocean influence, being this even more reinforced by the main river valleys orientation that facilitates maritime winds' penetration. The region's climate is greatly influenced by the orographic characteristics and also by the fluvial network.
The most significant feature is the yearly rain levels - an average of 1500 mm - and its irregular distribution along the year, concentrated in winter and spring.
On the other hand, the air temperature along the year develops similarly with precipitation. The higher temperatures occur at the same time as the lowest precipitation - hot and dry end of spring and summer - and the lower temperatures with the highest precipitation - cold and rainy winters.
In what concerns the annual average temperature, the average of high temperatures and the average of low temperatures is not too high, reflecting a mild climate.
The soil's main origin is the granite disaggregation. Generally, it is characterized by its low depth, predominantly sandy textures, a natural high acidity and poor in phosphorus.
The vines, distinguished by their great vegetative expansion in severe conditions, occupy an area of almost 21 thousand hectares, corresponding to 15% of the Portuguese viticultural area.
The main white grape varieties in the region are Alvarinho, Loureiro, Arinto (Pedernã), Avesso, Azal and Trajadura.
The main red grape varieties in the region are Amaral (Azal Tinto), Borraçal, Alvarelhão (Brancelho), Espadeiro, Padeiro, Pedral, Rabo-de-Anho (Rab-de Ovelha), Vinhão.
Sub-region of Monção and Melgaço
Faced with neighboring Spain, along the left bank of the river Minho, between Melgaço and Monção, is where we find this extraordinary wine region. Alvarinho is the predominant grape variety in the 800ha of vineyards existing in the region.
Different factors determine the unique characteristics of the wines: history/tradition, topography, climate, soil and the vines.
The town of Monção is a territory with tradition in the cultivation of vines. According to several authors, the fact that the Charter of Afonso III, dated from 12th March 1261, recognizes the ownership of vineyards to the inhabitants of Monção, shows us the importance of the town at the time.
The mountain system involving the entire sub-region makes the topography one of the most differentiating natural factors due to the great influence it has on climate - the "natural shelter" that is created limits the Atlantic influence, which is characteristic of the region. Thus, in the sub-region of Monção and Melgaço there are higher average temperatures in summer, lower humidity and also lower average annual rainfall than in the rest of Vinho Verde region.
Most part of the vineyards is planted between 50m and 200m altitude.
Soils are mainly of granitic origin, less frequent are those derived from fluvial deposits in terraces, where the percentage of pebble is high.
Soils are mainly acid, poor in phosphorus and nitrogen, rich in potassium and with sandy texture. The soil constitution is dominated by gravel and coarse sand, especially coarse sand, but also having a reasonable level of clay which gives a good drainage and aeration capacity, as well as a moderate storage capacity of water and ions (João Garrido. 1984. Zonagem vitícola da sub-região de Monção)
Alvarinho is a high quality white grape variety, recommended in the sub-region of Monção as a single grape variety for the production of wines with Alvarinho Denomination of Origin.
Bunch: small, winged and often with double wing development.
Compactness is medium/low.
Grape: presents small/medium size, not uniform. Rounded, sometimes slightly flattened. It has a yellowish green color, showing a pinkish tone when too exposed to sun. The skin is of medium thickness.
The wines are very rich in sugar, yet they present a reasonable content of organic acids.
Alvarinho is a moderately vigorous grape variety with high fertility rate. It often has three buds per rod, originating very small bunches, winged and with medium compactness, which makes it a low production variety. It's characterized by early budding and maturation.
Maximum yield allowed: 6.900 L/ha
65L/100 kg grapes
The wines produced with this grape variety show a natural balance between acidity and alcohol. Topography, climate and soils in the sub-region Monção originate wines with great freshness, although with high alcohol levels, due to acidity.
Bottle aging potential - High resistance to oxidation.
Aromatic richness: mineral notes, floral and tropical aromas are harmoniously combined. Full bodied wines with great structure, volume and long end finish.
Vinho Verde Alvarinho (% alcohol allowed): 11,5% - 14%