At dinner last night, Vasco Croft, owner of Aphros, a biodynamic Vinho Verde producer, decided to invite a group to lunch. So Joao Roseira asked me this morning: how nervous are you with planes? My flight was at 1740, and there might just be time to drive there, have lunch, drive back, and still catch the plane.
I made my flight (I’m actually a bit nervous of missing planes, and normally I like to be at the airport early), and had a lovely visit and lunch with a few others. I have followed Vasco’s wines for a while, and included his Vinhao in my top 50 Portuguese wine selection in 2009 (the list is here): a brave move that others questioned.
We looked around the vineyard (there are six hectares here at home base, Quinta Casal do Paço, and a further 14 at Quintas Espadanal and Valflores nearby), and then saw his preparations room, his dynamizer, and a series of small pools used to energise water.
The cellar is small and is used for special projects (it’s not his main winery), but it does contain his much talked-about amphorae. These are from the Alentejo, and the amphora wine is made without any electricity. He got a hand pump off eBay for 180 Euros that works fine.
We lunched very well, and drank four wines. Vasco opened one of his last remaining bottles of the 2005 Vinhao, an intense, fresh, fruit-driven red with lovely presence and vitality. The 2007 Escolha Branco was also beautiful: delicate and fragrant, and developing beautifully. We had the 2012 sparkling Loureiro, which I really liked. And we got to try the distinctive, linear 2015 amphora white (this is one of two bottlings: it had stems, whereas the other was destemmed berries), with its haunting perfume and distinctive minty edge. The older wines were labelled Afros – the estate had a name change a few years ago because of confusion with hair styles.
This was a lovely visit, and a fitting end to a memorable trip.