Suddenly it looks like we have got yellow skin, all of us. A blazingly fast change of colour in the same second as we walk in through the heavy door to Wine & Soul. But we can take it easy. The reason turns out to be energy-saving lighting in the barrel cellar that weaves everything into a dim, misty yellow light. When Jorge shows us up the stairs and into the next space, where the lagares are full of barrels containing the 2013 vintage, the skin resumes its normal colour.
“Wine & Soul is a small company,” says Jorge. “And we want to keep it that way. Small is beautiful. But we have in fact grown a little the last years.”
Jorge Serôdio Borges and Sandra Tavares da Silva started Wine & Soul when they bought this old winery and 2,2 hectar vineyards. The year was 2001. Over the years they have bought more land and currently the vineyard area counts to 22 hectars. A neat little work to look after, at the same time as they have positions as winemakers on other quintas
Another member of the family, also with a soft spot for grapes, has played an important part in the company. Oh yes, Pintas really like grapes. This cute dog, with pleading eyes and a lot of small spots scattered over the white fur, has given its name to Wine & Soul’s red wine and vintage port. Pintas means spots in Portuguese. The white label of Pintas Character is also adorned by a lot of grey and silver coloured spots.
During the lunch we talked about Jorge and Sandra’s winemaking philosophy. Now I wonder about the name Wine & Soul, why “soul”? The answer comes very quickly.
“It is not just a company, it is our passion,” expains Jorge. “We respect the traditions of our families, we want to keep them and build something for the future. This is our lives.”
Wine & Soul produce in total 40.000 bottles, divided between four red wines, one white and two ports. All the grapes destined to port and red wines are foot trodden and fermented in lagares.
Today the winery is too small, there is not enought capacity to ferment all grapes. Thus, some of them are sold to a port wine company. The intention is to expand and get a bigger barrel cellar. Presently the lagares have to serve as barrel storage and it is a tedious work when the barrels must be moved. But it is a slow process to get a buildning permit in the world heritage protected Douro.
Already at lunch we tasted the latest addition to Wine & Soul’s range of wines, the white Guru 2012. Made of four different grape varieties from very old vines. Sandra explains that Viosinho contributes with tropical fruit, Rabigato with crispy acidity and the neutral Cordega and Gouveio with volume on the palate. The wine is fermented and matured five month in french oak barrels with battonage. No malolactic fermentation to keep the freshness.
Yellow-green shimmering. Large, developed buttery nose with fruitiness of yellow plums and citrus, a touch of oak. Medium plus body, dry with very good acidity. Fresh and at the same time a little thick buttery impression on the palate. Minerality, notes of tropical fruit, apricot, pineapple, well integrated oak. Good length with nice fruitiness.
Fresh, full of character. Lovely!
Now time to taste red. We stand in a corner of the cellar, wrapped in the yellow, misty light. Jorge pours the first wine and we smell the lovely aromas while he speaks about Manoella.
Manoella Tinto 2012.
From Quinta da Manoella, 5 km from here. Who the woman Manoella was, no one knows, despite the fact that the estate has been in the possession of Jorge’s family since 1838.
The grape varieties in Manoella are primarily Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Fransesca. One year in old French barrels. 2012 was a very cold year, which shows in a lighter wine, but still in the fresh, elegant style Jorge aims at.
Purple colour. A little shy nose, herbiness and red berries. Almost medium bodied, good acidity and balanced soft tannins. Dense structure with dark berries, cherries and a touch of oak. Nice, light aftertaste with sour red berries and notes of oak. A tight, a bit lighter and fresher wine.
Pintas Character 2011.
From old vines, a field blend dominated of Touriga Franca . 16 months on French barrels, 50% new.
Dense, dark red with a little shy, young nose. Medium plus body with good acidity and marked fine tannins. Dark fruit, very complex, well balanced, very good texture, structure and concentration. Long aftertaste finished with deliciously ripe, sweet fruit. Excellent, elegant. Great ageing potential.
Jorge passes the cork. Natural cork, selected by Jorge and Sandra when they visited the producer. They take quality very serious. On the top is the number seven. It means something special, that it is Sandra and Jorge’s seventh vintage of Pintas Character.
We continue with port. Wine & Soul Tawny Port 10 years, has an actual average age of 15 years, five years more thant the stipulated ten. Why? Simply to make a better wine explains Jorge.
Amber tawny colour. Lovely nose; nutty, caramel, brown sugar and blackberry fruit. Mouthfilling with very good acidity, attractively moderate impression of sweetness, very fruity notes among the caramel and brown sugar. Delicious tawny with concentration and suprisingly high fruitiness. Like!
Pintas Vintage Port 2011.
2011, the year when everything was perfect. The weather gods blessed September and all plots could be harvested at exactly the right ripeness. For vintage an ideal year. The best in a century, an opinion shared by many.
First I was bewitched by Quinta do Passadouro Vintage 2011 . Then this an hour later. The Pintas Vintage 2011 will be the wine that definitely turns me from port skepticism to salvation.
Very high intensity, blue-red-black. A symphony of aromas; dark fruit, blackcurrant, flowers, smokiness, spicyness with cinnamon, cumin and peppar, then a complexity which permeats and seduces. On the palate full bodied, velvet soft, fine marked tannins and a very good acidity lowering the impression of sweetness. Fantastic complexity, fruity, blue berries, nuts. A length stretching into eternity, fruity and complex. Wow, gorgeous, such a fantastic wine! A top score dances into the margin of the note book.
We just stand and cuddle with silly smiles to the top of our ears. Jorge notes the reaction and chuckles back with a big smile and great warmth in his voice; “You know, one of the missions of a winemaker is to produce something that can make people happy.”
Yes, we are happy. So happy that we make the biggest mistake of our journey. We should have bought many bottles to take with us back home.
“Do you want to see our old vineyard before you leave?” asks Jorge. He means the little 2,2 hectar vineyard with 80 year old vines, the starting point of Wine & Soul. A small vineyard with a lot of soul. Of course we want to see it.
Previous posts about our visit to Jorge Serôdio Borges and Sandra Tavares da Silva in May 2014: