Arinto dos Açores
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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.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE?
This micro-production wine comes exclusively from Arinto dos Açores grapes grown on the island of Pico. Here, there is no soil, just volcanic basalt, and the vines are planted in vineyards just 100 feet from the Atlantic Ocean; Pico’s enormous rain shadow extends nearly to the edges of the island, and sunlight can be hard to come by. To protect the vines from the relentless salty winds, they are planted 4 at a time in plots surrounded by hand-built stone walls known as "currais."
2019 92+ WA; 2018 92 WA; 2017 92 Forbes; 2016 92WA
100% Arinto dos Açores. This version of Arinto has no relation to those on the mainland; it is a unique varietal which evolved over time to adapt to the extreme growing conditions here. Sustainably grown vines planted from 1984-2004. Tended in volcanic basalt at sea level, less than 100 ft from the Atlantic Ocean.
This is a wine that performs beautifully with all sorts of seafood, owing to its salinity and minerality. Grilled whole fish, oysters, mussels and shrimp are perfect pairings.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING:
Grapes are hand harvested in small baskets and go through heavy triage before being whole bunch pressed. The juice decants for 24 hours and ferments in temperature controlled vertical and horizontal 600-1,000L stainless steel tanks. 10 months on the lees in a horizontal tank; the use of horizontal tanks for this aging increases the surface area for lees contact. The wine goes through full malolactic.
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE:
Pico, in the Azores Islands, is about 1,000 miles off the coast of Portugal. It is dominated by the volcano Ponta do Pico, Portugal’s highest mountain. With its unique and unusual terroir, the vines are planted in the black basalt rock cracks at the foothills of the volcanic mountain 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. Temperature averages 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, with rainfall averaging 1200mm a year.
Pico’s terroir contributes incredible minerality and purity on the nose, as well as unmistakable salinity. The palate offers the tension and brightness of grapefruit and under ripe stone fruits.