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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.
With the Vulcânico line of wines, Antonio seeks to emphasize the soil and terroir of the Azores over the varietals themselves. The Branco, Tinto and Rosé are all blends of indigenous varieties, made with minimal intervention to fully evoke the salt, wind and volcanic character of this wind-swept landscape.
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. Perhaps the most maritime rosé in existence.
2019 90WA; 2017 93W&S
25% Saborinho, 25% Agronomica, 25% Aragones, 25% Touriga Nacional. Sustainably grown tiny plots (2 to 6 bush trained vines per square) planted in 1991 in volcanic soil at sea level.
This is a wine that performs beautifully with all sorts of seafood, owing to its salinity and minerality. Shellfish and freshly prepared fish dishes are brilliant pairs, particularly those with some heat.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING:
Hand harvested to 40kg baskets, heavy triage, then racked to small stainless steel tanks until December. No maceration, free run and direct press. Spontaneous fermentation with wild yeast.
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”).
Pale salmon pink, with edges running to orange. Aromas of wild strawberry, sea spray, blood orange and sour cherry comingle with iodine, black pepper and oyster shell. On the palate, clean, fresh flavors of strawberry and watermelon are carried by high toned minerality and persistent salinity. Thirst quenching and stunningly easy to drink.
2016: 12.5% / 2017:12%