The Wine: Maria da Graça 2016
Maria da Graça is a lively, unbound red wine influenced by the calcareous-clay soils and the Northwest Atlantic coastal winds. It celebrates the knowledge and wisdom passed down from generation to generation.
Maria da Graça is made from Portugal native grapes Alfrocheiro and Alicante Bouschet, harvested in late September and vinified following a non-interventionist approach.
In this wine, we sought to express in a natural way the characteristics that the wine variety Alfrocheiro bestows to a place, the S. Mateus farm, showcasing how sophisticated the region of Bairrada can be.
The Producer: Tiago Teles
Tiago Teles is a talented winemaker from Bairrada, Northwestern Portugal, where he's been making natural wines from organically farmed grapes. Tiago has a penchant for storytelling and he's the author of a book about wine available for download on his website titled "Wines of Terroir".
His philosophy is centered around the quality of the grapes and how well each grape varietal has adapted to the environment. Tiago believes that authentic and natural wines can only be made from grapes grown on the right soils with the right climate conditions.
Tiago sources his grapes from several locations, mainly Bairrada, in particular S. Mateus and Valdazar, and Arcos dos Valdevez. He then vinifies the grapes at At Quinta dos Cozinheiros, near Figueira da Foz, and at Quinta da Cancela, in Arcos de Valdevez.
The Region: Bairrada
Bairrada is a region located in northwest Portugal within the wider region called Beira Litoral, between the Atlantic Ocean (west) and the mountains of Dão region (east), stretching from the coast to the border with Spain. Bairrada is a Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC), the highest recognition for a wine region in Portugal.
The most widely planted grape varietal in this region is Baga (75% of all vineyards), traditionally vinified into dark red powerful wines with firm tannins. Other red varietals grown in Bairrada are Portugal native like Castelão, Rufete, Touriga Nacional but also international, such as Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Among the several white grape varietals grown in the region, we have Arinto, Bical, Cercial, Sercialinho, Fernão Pires, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
The Terroir of Bairrada
Bairrada’s terroir and its wines are deeply influenced by two elements: the Atlantic Ocean, and the clay soils rich in limestone. The Ocean mitigates the climate, which could be defined as maritime with substantial rainfall. The further we move from the coast towards the Dão region, the higher the quality of the grapes.