It is one of the smallest wine regions in the country and its vineyards are planted in sand soil, I’m talking about Colares!
I confess that the Colares wine region is one of the regions that fascinates me the most in Portugal.
And to explain to you why I have to go back to the middle of the 19th century … By that time, a plague came to Europe from the Americas, called phylloxera, which destroyed a large part of the vineyards in France, Italy, Portugal and a little bit worldwide.
That little insect attacked the vines by the roots. And that was precisely why the Colares vineyards managed to survive: planted in great depth in sandy soil, they were in a very unattractive environment for that bug. The depth of the plantation also protects the vineyards from sea winds, salty breezes and humidity.
In addition to this unique curiosity of Colares, this region together Carcavelos and Bucelas form an historical wine route – the Bucelas, Carcavelos and Colares Wine Route
To find out more about the Colares vineyards and wines, I visited two wineries in the region.
It is the oldest cooperative winery in the country: it opened its doors in 1931, with the aim of establishing the region as a producer of unique and quality wine, whose tradition was said to come from Roman times.
For more than 50 years, this winery had exclusivity in the production of Colares wine. Today, although there are more producing wineries, it continues to bring together the majority of producers in the region.
When I entered that long building on the edge of the old train line, I was welcomed by Francisco Figueiredo, the winemaker responsible for the winery.
While preparing the wine tasting, Francisco made me feel free to stroll through the cellar, in the endless barrels room where dozens of mahogany wood vats watched me silently.
There I tasted not only the traditional Colares wines, but also the “hard soil” wines, that is basically the wines grown in the regular type of soil (not the sand soil). I really liked the red Chão Rijo, made with Castelão and Tinta Roriz, with lots of red fruit filling the palate.
“Adega Viuva Gomes” translatest to “The Gomes Widow winery”.
The story of this Almoçageme cellar is hidden behind a facade of beautiful blue tiles. Here I was hosted by José Baeta, the current owner, who has managed the winery over the past 30 years.
José told me that the so-called widow, whose fisrt name nobody knows, having lost her husband very early, took over the business – showing that in 1808 there were strong and hard-working women.
I rang the bell and entered through a small wooden door directly to the store, where the old wooden and glass shelves made me feel in a setting from the 1920s.
Going down some narrow stairs, I came across a respectful basement of barrels where the smell of mold and old wood was felt intensely.
In this half light mood and full of history that José gave me to taste the ex-libris of Viúva Gomes: Malvasia 2014 and Ramisco 2007. Malvasia stood out for its delicious taste of dried fruits and a salty finish. Yes, the wine has salinity flavors because the vines planted by the sea absorb the sea breeze!
In Ramisco, I found notes of riped cherry and dirt (and we all know what that is … who never ate dirt as a child?). These aromas, mixed with the delicate wood where they aged, create incomparable wines that need a few years to reveal the best of themselves.
These are controversial wines; either love it or hate it! But nobody is indifferent to the history, to the hundreds of years of knowledge and experience that can be savored in a bottle of Colares wine.