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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 volcanic Azores islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is grown in volcanic basalt at sea level, less than 50m from the Atlantic. This terroir and the blend of varieties imbue this wine with incredible minerality and purity, as well as unmistakable salinity.
2018 92 "Excellent Value" Forbes
Field blend, co-fermented of Aragones (Tempranillo), Agronòmica, Castelão, Malvarsico, Merlot, Touriga Naçional, Saborinho and Syrah. Vineyards planted from 1989-2004. Tended in volcanic basalt at sea level, less than 50m from the Atlantic Ocean.
This is a very versatile pairing owing to its salinity and freshness. Punchier seafood dishes like seared tuna with olives and capers, as well as lighter meat dishes like beef tataki or carpaccio.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING:
Sustainably farmed vineyards planted to volcanic basalt. Hand harvested to 40kg baskets, heavy triage, then racked to small stainless steel tanks for fermentation. 15 days cold maceration. Spontaneous fermentation with wild yeast, 8 months aging in stainless steel, then 10 months in bottle prior to release.
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”).
Intense ruby-purple. On the nose, fresh red fruit commingled with salty savory notes of the sea and stone. On the palate, fresh and salty, with crunch cranberry, sour cherry and under ripe raspberry. Finishes spicy, with a sanguine umami note.