Verdelho O Original
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Led by the award-winning winemaker and terroir expert António Maçanita, Azores Wine Company (founded in 2014) has brought new life to UNESCO World Heritage site and Portugal’s highest peak, Pico Island. Through his exploration of history via the region’s indigenous varietals—and a forward-looking plan that incorporates gastronomy, hospitality, and rigorous study of the DO’s microclimates—Maçanita (with partners Filipe Rocha and Paulo Machado) is reestablishing this isolated region into one of Portugal’s most fascinating wine areas.
Azores Wine Company owns 100 hectares of extremely low-yield vines, with an additional 30 ha rented from local growers. The Azorean archipelago is home to a winemaking tradition that dates to the 15th century, when viticulture was introduced by Franciscan friars to these nine uninhabited islands. The Azores later became Portugal’s largest winemaking area until it was devastated by phylloxera in the 19th century, causing a mass exodus to places like North and South America. Today, even with Maçanita’s growing influence, wine production here remains less than 5% of its former output, and Azores Wine Company has been the only producer here to make its way into the broader US market.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE?
This is a micro-production wine from the tiny island of Pico in the Azores. It is grown in volcanic basalt at sea level, less than 50m from the Atlantic. This terroir and the varietal imbue this wine with incredible minerality and purity, as well as unmistakable salinity. This varietal of Verdelho dates back to the original plantings in the early 17th century, and is indigenous to the Azores and Madeira.
2019 92 WA; 2018 91 WA; 2017 92WA; 2016 91WA
100% Verdelho do Pico. Sustainably grown vines planted from 1984-2004. Tended in volcanic basalt at sea level, less than 50 m (164 ft) from the Atlantic Ocean.
What better food to eat with a wine from the islands than the bounty of the sea? Shellfish, oysters, grilled or fried fish are all excellent pairing ideas.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING:
Hand harvested to 40kg baskets, heavy triage, then racked to small stainless steel tanks for 6 months with extensive battonage. These tanks were laid down in the fashion of a barrel in order to facilitate battonage during lees aging.
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE:
Pico, in the Azores, is about 1000 miles off the coast of Portugal. It is dominated by the volcano Ponta do Pico, Portugal’s highest mountain. The soil is entirely black basalt, which puts enormous stress on the vines, lowering yields. Vines are the only crop to speak of on Pico, as other plant life has a difficult time surviving. The average elevation of the vineyards is sea level (0m). Temperature from April to October is 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit (15-21 C), with annual rainfall of 1200mm (47”).
Bright straw-yellow. Aromas of passionfruit, pineapple, sea spray and oyster shell on the nose. On the palate, vibrant and fresh with high toned tropical fruit held in balance by impressive mid-palate weight and breadth. Finishes long and clean, with the Azores’ tell-tale saline minerality running through the finish.