Luis Seabra, another Lisbonite living in Porto, is an experienced and exceptional Portuguese winemaker. He studied viticulture at the Universidade de Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD), did his masters in winemaking at the Universidade Catolica and has been making wine since 2000. For close to a decade Luis worked as a winemaker for Niepoort at Quinta do Napoles in the Douro valley, producing wines of outstanding quality and success. So with pedigree like that, I felt rather nervous to share my limited wine knowledge with him and hesitant to give my opinion on some of the wines we tasted while on our trip in the Douro. But Luis is easygoing and easy to talk to. I managed to crack a few nerdy wine jokes with him, which seemed to go down well. He is immensely knowledgeable about wines, as one would expect, but also unpretentious in his explanations, patient with my endless questions, and basically, just a really cool guy. Despite his history and success with Niepoort, Luis left the company in 2012 in order to start his own winery under his name Luis Seabra Vinhos. When I sheepishly asked if he was nervous to leave Niepoort after all those years, Luis explained that it was a matter of time; after all those years of doing something he loved for someone else, it was time for him to do it for himself. Without a hint of arrogance, Luis exudes confidence in his abilities as a winemaker, but also confidence in his wines, his projects, and his path. In an industry where lineage, labels and prestige can take the joy out of wines, it is admirable to see someone dedicated to their own evolution and progress, someone who recognizes their own value and no longer wishes to be restricted from growing. I am huge fan of his wines, and of course, his story. But if you want more than just a good story, then you can definitely rely on his wines to do the talking.
LUIS SEABRA VINHOS XISTO CRU BRANCO 2013
This lovely white wine is primarily Rabigato grapes with a mix of other native varieties from Meda in the Douro Superior. On the nose there are delightful aromas of wet stones, crisp minerality and fresh acidity with a slight nuttiness once it opens up. It is a medium bodied wine that has lasting acidity from start to finish and also reveals toasty notes accompanying the minerality on the palate. What can I say? I’m sold!