Vinha Centenária Branco
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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?
After the devastation of phylloxera and oidium, the locals maintained a small pocket of heritage vineyards. “Vinha Centenária” comes from one of those 100+ year-old vineyards, which are considered the guardians of the island's native grapes and traditional composition. This rare, micro-production wine reflects not only the rich past but the bright future of winemaking in Pico.
2018 95 WA
85% Arinto dos Açores with a small amount of other indigenous varietals blended in (Verdelho, Boal and Alicante Branco) from vines that are 100+ years old planted in volcanic basalt soils at less than 100 ft above sea level.
This is a wine born in the middle of the Atlantic ocean that pairs beautifully with all sorts of seafood, owing to its salinity and minerality. It is also a great match for suckling pig and pork belly.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING:
The grapes are hand-picked with intensive sorting. First press (70%) is fermented and aged in stainless steel in horizontal tanks to encourage more lees contact; the second press (30%) is fermented and aged in 3-year-old, 225L French oak barrels without batonnage for 9 months.
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE:
Pico, in the Azores Islands, is about 1,000 miles off the coast of Portugal. It is dominated by the volcano Ponta do Pico, Portugal’s highest mountain. With its unique and unusual terroir, the vines are planted in the black basalt rock cracks at the foothills of the volcanic mountain 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. Temperature averages 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, with rainfall averaging 1200mm a year.
Yellow citrus-straw color. In the palate, the wine has beautiful concentration with bright acidity, honeysuckle, lime blossom and saline notes.