António Madeira began making wines in Dão while he was still living in Paris (he’s French, of Portuguese descent). In 2010 he found a 50 year old vineyard and began his project, but because the one-hectare plot hadn’t been pruned for three years, there was no wine made in that first year. Instead, his debut vintage was 2011.
His goal has been to identify the Grand Cru sites in the Dão, manage the vineyards manually without herbicides to get life into the soil, and to make the wines naturally. Many of the great old vineyards in the region have been pulled out, sadly, and it’s not always easy persuading owners to rent them out. But he has persevered.
Since July 2017 he’s moved full-time to Portugal to pursue his vinous destiny. He’s now cultivating 23 vineyard plots in 6 villages (though he says that some of these ‘villages’ are just a row of houses on either side of the road), totalling 6 hectares of vines. This is Burgundy scale parcellation! Most are located in the foothills of the Serra d’Estrela, but some are actually more in the mountains. As well as his own production, he also buys in a fifth of what he needs.
António is currently building a winery: so far the wines have been made in his garage. This is one of Portugal’s most exciting wine producers, in my view. But really he’s just unlocking the potential of great vineyard sites, so expect to see more wines like this if the market will support people working at this level.
António Madeira Liberdade Branco 2017 Dão, Portugal
This has no sulfites until bottling (and then just 15-20 mg/litre). It’s complex, mineral, spicy and reductive on the nose, while on the palate it is lively and intense with pear, citrus and spice. Amazing presence and complexity. 95/100
António Madeira Vinhas Velhas Branco 2016 Dão, Portugal
This isn’t bottled yet – his policy is to bottle two winters after harvest. Really mineral and expressive on the nose. Complex and detailed with citrus, apple, pear. Very refined and expressive with lovely with lovely weight. 95/100
António Madeira Rosé 2017 Dão, Portugal
From two old north-facing vineyards with 50 different varieties, this is vinified without sulfur dioxide. Not bottled yet. Pale-ish pink red with some sappy cherry fruit. Unfortunately this is also mousy. Let’s hope the final wine isn’t.
António Madeira Colheita 2015 Dão, Portugal
From old vineyards vinified separately and then blended later. Supple but structured with lovely pure raspberry and cherry fruit. This has a nice stony grip to it. Very fine with some structure. 93/100
António Madeira Vinhas Velhas 2015 Dão, Portugal
Vines 50-100 years old. Supple and fresh with a bit of sappiness and some sanguine quality. Raspberry fruit with some crunchy tannins. Really nice structure and acidity here with great intensity and elegance. 94/100
António Madeira A Centenária 2017 Dão, Portugal
From a 120 year old vineyard. So distinctive with some fennel and liquorice on the nose as well as blood, meat and fine cherry fruit. Some blackcurrant, too. Really elegant and supple with nice acidity. Has the structure to age. 95/100
UK agent: Indigo Wines
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