Old vines, new wines

Red, white, rosé… and yellow… a wine tour with a twist

With the summer months a distant memory, Inside Magazine joined forces with Vasco Chaveca, jumped into his bright yellow, electric Tuk Tuk and headed off into the countryside between Lagoa and Silves on a leisurely wine tour, tailored-made for us. Vasco will often customise a tour, taking in to account time constraints or a interest in a par- ticular producer for example.

Vasco picked us up in the centre of Carvoeiro and we rode out to our first stop, Quinta do Outeiro, the home of Paxa wines, where we were welcomed by the young wine producer and son of the owner, Tiago Lopes.

The family bought the property in 1991 when it was a citrus plantation and began to cultivate the land. In 2002 the virgin vines were planted and the waiting game began, a full six years, in fact, until the inaugural grapes were ready to be processed but the young winemakers didn’t have a facility on site so they took their harvest to the local wine co-op in Lagoa where the first Paxa red wine was born.

Enthused by the initial batches, they went on to plant more vines and expand their grape varieties and the vineyard currently boasts the native Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira and Arinto grapes along with now commonly used Portuguese vines that originate from Spain and France; Alvarinho, Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet, Syrah, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc.

The family continued to expand the vines and removed the final large citrus crop in 2015, which is now home to beautiful, small white vines that should be ready for harvest in 2021.

In 2013 Paxa received European Commission project funding and were able to build the viniculture production facility that houses a selection of equipment, stainless steel fermenting vats ranging from 500ltrs to a massive 10,000ltrs and a selection of beautiful French oak barrels.

Tiago gave us a guided tour of the production facility where they receive, select, process, crush and ferment the grapes and then we took a stroll through the vineyard to the tasting room where we were introduced to the full selection of Quinta Outeiro (entry level) and Paxa red, white, rosé, Reserva and Special wines; in total, around 80,000 bottles are produced annually.

With our taste buds well and truly whetted and a couple of “samples” bought from the shop, we thanked Tiago and jumped back aboard the Tuk Tuk where we headed deeper inland towards Silves to the Cabrita Winery.

Making visitors feel part of the winery is the aim of José Manuel Cabrita at Quinta da Vinha, the Silves producer of Cabrita wines.

On entering the storage facility, we were shown the climate- controlled storage room where the oak barrels, late harvest vat and sparkling wines were resting, fermenting and waiting to be bottled.

Winemaker Dinis explained the processes stage by stage before taking us upstairs to the room with the view. A contemporary reception room dedicated to providing wine tasting is on the top floor of the winery where guests have a wonderful view towards both the fermentation and bottling area and the vineyards themselves. We tried the Cabrita wines while Dinis explained how they were reintroducing some old vines that are generally not used and then we tried the Negro Mole, which, he told us, is the Portuguese equivalent of Pinot Nero. Like most old Algarve wines, Negro Mole was never really produced with much knowledge or care and that’s something that Cabrita wines intend to change. The winery is producing small quantities of Cabrita red, white, rosé, Arinto, Moscatel, Negra Mole and a red and white Reserva with a total production of just fewer than 58,000ltrs. The tour wrapped up and we headed back to Carvoeiro.

Both vineyards started out life using the Adega do Lagoa and have grown enough to bring the production back on site and now offer their facilities to small private local producers like João Clara, Malaca, Edds and Barradas, to name just a few.

Text: Mia Wallace

Author: Inside Carvoeiro

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