“Tenho em mim, todos os sonhos do mundo” — Fernando Pessoa (Within me, I have all the dreams in the world)
Lisbon. Lisboa, a city that has for centuries captured the hearts of many a writer, poet and traveller. With its incredible architecture, sometimes raw and ruined and other times polished and clean, the tiny narrow streets are worth endless hours of aimless exploration. The view from the impressive Castelo de São Jorge is breathtakingly beautiful: red roof tops contrast the light blue of the Tagus River, the white dome of the National Pantheon and the massive stone pillars of the Sé de Lisboa break the yellows, blues and reds of the colourful houses that climb up and down the hills of the Portuguese capital. Past and present merge in the most fascinating way, with impressive monuments on each street corner sprinkled in with funky little cafes, hip bars and chic restaurants. Each tiny corner, nook and cranny of this famous city has a story to tell, of a past long and gone, but also of a present so alive and pulsing with energy.
From the Alentenjo countryside to city, I drove into Lisbon crossing the Ponte 25 de Abril. The view was nothing short of spectacular. Despite a few missed exits and endless looping on the autostrada, some wrong turns with accompanying honks and horns of cars behind me, I finally made it into the city ready for my next wine adventure. At the packed Tasca da Esquina, I met up with wine producer Nuno Falle Inacio of Pintarola wines for lunch. A mutual friend had mentioned his wine project to me a few months ago and things aligned so we could meet for a tasting of his wines while in Lisbon. Nuno was happy to share with me his insights on the wine industry, the challenging process of setting up his own label and of course, his wines: Pintarola Rose 2014, Pintarola Branco 2014, Pintarola Tinto 2013 and Pintarola Tinto Reserva 2013 (please see tasting notes below). As a new and small wine producer from Lisbon region his Pintarola wines offer precisely that: something new, something exclusive and something to capture that cool Lisbon vibe.
Nuno started up the Pintarola wine project as a way to include a younger generation to appreciate quality wines. After having worked in the wine industry for 9 years with his family’s wine company Quinta D’Rangel, Nuno become very familiar with the industry. He realized that younger generations were being excluded from drinking good wine because of prices and a lack of understanding. His idea was to find a balance between the two, producing accessible wines that appeal to younger wine consumers but also producing wines that express the terroir of the Lisbon region. “I wanted to start my own project offering something new, fresh, fun and with good design.” Pintarola, Nuno told me, “é uma coisa descontraida” (something chill, relaxed). It is serious but fun at the same time. From the brand name to the wine labels, his idea is to make wine a little less serious and lot more fun. Red, blue and white poke-a-dot foils and labels with mustache, bow-tie and top-hat silhouettes make his wines pretty recognizable. He’s even promoting his wines at different events in Lisbon such as the Independent Film Festival IndieLisboa2016. Pintarola is also a concept of elegance, style and taste, he explained. Upon release of his wines in July of 2015, they were quickly adopted by the Lisbon chef Vitor Sabral and added to his wine list. From then Nuno has partnered up with 50 different mid-to-high end restaurants in Lisbon who focus of food and wine pairing. It is an experience of the pleasure of wine and food, he said, and his wines are meant to be enjoyed with the exquisite gastronomy of Portugal.
Just like his wines, Nuno is serious in his goals, taking on the role of winemaker (alongside his father), marketing manager, sales and distribution (of course with a strong team behind him) but easy-going in his approach. The result has been 14,000 bottles produced and released last year with grape varietals that are both Portuguese and international. For reds this includes Touriga Nacional, Castelão, Tinto Roriz, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira Preta, and Camarate. For whites there is Fernão Pirez, Arinto, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Vital and Malvasia. Under the Vinho Regional Lisboa appellation, the 30 hectares of Quinta d’Rangel vineyards are found in the sub-region of Alenquer, approximately one hour north of Lisbon. The vineyards are located along the slopes and plateaus of the Serra de Montejunto in clay-limestone soils. The vines benefit from mild summers (between 25 to 30C in summer and nights between 12-15C) and the Atlantic influences giving the grapes good acidity and ripeness. The average age of the vines are 20 years, while 1.5 hectares of Vinhas Velhas (old vines) are approximately 70 years old.
Nuno is confident in his wines and the concept behind them. There is endless buzz in the wine press about how to capture millennials in the wine industry and make them loyal consumers. It’s certainly not easy, since us youth (yes, I include myself) are always wanting to trying new things, wanting new experiences and living the moment. But I believe Nuno has a project that definitely bridges that gap, that makes wine a celebration, an experience and a Pintarola of a good time (if that works…). I wish him success and I’m sure he’ll love every moment of his own wine adventure.
And with that, I went back into my mini Renault Clio and spent the weekend exploring all the nooks and crannies of this vibrant city.
Vinho Regional Lisboa
PINTAROLA ROSE 2014
Tinta Roriz, Castelão
Refreshing Rose, perfect for summer. It has a pale salmon color. Inviting nose of red berries and subtle floral aromas. On the palate, typical flavor of black tea and red fruit of Castelão, yet a slight greenish to the finish. Crisp acidity from start to finish. I think it would be great for sipping but also a very gastronomic wine, pairing well with sushi or lighter dishes. 12% abv Good
PINTAROLA BRANCO 2014
60% Arinto, 40% Chardonnay
Pale lemon-green in colour this is a wine that needs to breathe in the glass for a few minutes to allow it to release more of the warm aromatic components. The nose is a combination of tropical fruit, stone-fruit and some minerality. On the palate, it is dry, medium-bodied with balanced acidity and has a lingering salinity to the finish. 12.5% abv Good
PINTAROLA TINTO 2013
Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Tinta Roriz
Blended red with fermentation in stainless steel tanks, then spends 4 to 5 months in new French oak. Lovely intense ruby colour with slow forming legs. The nose displays warm red berries, ripe red fruit, subtle hints of oak and some toasty notes. On the palate it is dry, soft tannins and fresh acidity, lots of red fruits as in the nose and bold, full-bodied. A few lingering herbal flavours at the finish. 13.5% abv Very Good
PINTAROLA TINTO RESERVA 2013
70% Vinhas Velhas (Old Vines), 20% Touriga Nacional and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
The high-hand wine of this new producer, only 3000 bottles produced. Selection of best grapes from old and new vines, best parcels with the greatest sun exposure. Fermentation is done in stone lagares for approximately 7 days, undergoes maleolatic fermentation in used French barrels, and then ageing for one year in barrel. It has a beautiful color of ruby-purple tones. The nose is subtle but opens up after a few minutes with lovely mix of red fruit, spices, and earthyness. On the palate, it is dry, persistent fine tannins, full-bodied, great complexity and lots of layers of red fruit, sweet spice, and wet leaves. Good overall acidity and finish is long and persistent. Great money for value and good ageing potential. 14% abv Very Good