Bastardo (or trousseau for you purists) is an amazing grape that came to Portugal via pilgrims along the ancient European Caminos sometime in the last two millennia. Think old monks hiking under massive mountains and over vast plains with a few crappy little ride-along cuttings in their packs.
That scrappy attitude of survival has shown through in this wine. A deeper, tannic, and complex style than many of the Jura Trousseau we see today, the wine is no slouch and really says loudly - "I AM DELICIOUS" right into your mouth. Dry, deep expressive fruit, and excellent tannic structure - at a price that makes us smile. And all organically farmed with minimal intervention in the winery!
The little known Trás-os-Montes DOC is an almost mystical land filled with traces of winemaking dating back to the pre-Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninisula. It is here, in the far north of Portugal, in a place called Ribeira de Ouro (“River of Gold”) that we find Quinta de Arcossó.
Owner Amílcar Salgado chose this spot not far from his childhood home when, in 2001, he decided to realize his dream of carrying on the winemaking traditions of his ancestors. He achieved this by buying and recuperating a 400-year old wine estate that had been in the hands of the Pizarro e Montalvão Machado family (descendants of the great conquerors of Latin America) all that time. The family had been making wine for the local market and themselves, but had abandoned the production of wine in 1987.
Amílcar resolved to replant, bring the estate into the modern era and begin producing high-quality wine that could introduce people all over the world to this rugged, traditional wine region. And so in 2003, with the help of an agronomist who could advise on how best to respect the ancient traditions of this land, he planted 12 hectares of vineyards.
“AMÍLCAR RESOLVED TO REPLANT, BRING THE ESTATE INTO THE MODERN ERA AND BEGIN PRODUCING HIGH-QUALITY WINE THAT COULD INTRODUCE PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD TO THIS RUGGED, TRADITIONAL WINE REGION.”
These vineyards are planted at around 400m above sea level, on relatively steep amphitheater-like slopes with perfect southern exposure. The concave shape of the vineyards allows for more complete sun exposure, and perfect drainage. Here the soils are markedly granitic, with a high presence of clay as well, and the grapes are indigenous: Arinto, Fernão Pires, Moscatel Galego and some “other” original rootstock vines that survived between 1987 and 2003 for the whites; and Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, and Bastardo for the reds.
The overriding philosophy is minimal intervention in nature’s processes, and this manifests itself in the vineyards as well as in the winery. Harvests are mostly by hand, and their expert team of pickers makes a first selection in the vineyard. Many of the grapes are pressed by the ancient method of foot stomping, and the pressed juice runs freely from the granite lagars on the second level of the winery into the fermentation tanks below.
Under the careful supervision of winemaker Francisco Montenegro, they vinify each parcel separately, some of them in cement vats, some in large oak casks. Those wines that are barrel-aged spend between 6 months and a year in French and/or American oak (depending on the wine). Their Bastardo and Grande Reserva wines are aged in 100+-year old chestnut oak barrels. Most of the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Quinta de Arcossó made its first small vintage in 2005 and has never looked back. They now produce small quantities of two lines of wines, Quinta de Arcossó and Padrão dos Povos. Each has its own characteristics, but both lines are conceived to demonstrate that Trás-os-Montes is truly capable of producing world-class wines that respect the region’s impressively long history of winemaking and its mystical terroirs.