Portugal is home to some of the world’s most renowned wines, but outside of the big famous brands, there are some exciting offerings from the small, often family-owned vineyards. Lívia Mokri shows us around

Winemakers, viticulturists and wine enthusiasts all have a different slant on what constitutes a boutique winery. What the wine community generally agrees on is that a boutique-class winery is one with a production of between 2,500 to 5,000 cases per year, and occasionally up to 10,000.

One key characteristic that sets boutique wineries apart is the size of the vineyard. A boutique wine is usually one of a small-run or limited-production, where personal attention is paid to each and every vine, and soil is minimally tilled to preserve the micro-organisms active underground.

Meet two of Portugal’s talented artisanal makers.

A trip to Burgundy combined with an enormous passion for wine awoke the long-held dream of brothers Pedro and Rui Patrício. Returning from France, Pedro planted a one-hectare vineyard with 36 lines near Estremoz, in the Alentejo wine region, with a view to producing limited edition boutique wines in that replicate the greatness of Burgundy wines.

The tapered bottle has a distinct personality and the labels are designed by the great architect Siza Vieira, and feature the star of the brand, Já Te Disse, grandfather Ramiro’s mongrel dog who has always had a strong connection to the family. Since they are committed to the protection of the environment, the winery uses Amorim cork stoppers, which are produced in a sustainable manner.

The harvest is completely manual and carried out at dawn so that the grapes arrive at the cellar with all their freshness preserved.

The first wines were launched in 2021 and each bottle of wine is numbered and hand-labelled.

Já Te Disse Alicante Bouschet The brothers’ special edition of red wine was made from 100% Alicante Bouschet grapes in 2020. It has intense smoky-sweet aromas on the nose with very ripe black fruits, and notes of sweet tobacco and black pepper mixed with black plum, black cherry and blackberry. Dense and silky on the palate, this is a young and contained wine with enormous potential. It has an excellent structure, strong acidity, and robust but somewhat raw tannins.

The persistent finish reveals its ageing potential. The wine should be served at a temperature of 16-18°C. It pairs well with barbecued foods, grilled vegetables, or roast beef.

Já Te Disse Rosé The winery’s first limited-edition rosé from the vintage of 2021 is a blend of the Aragonez (40%), Touriga Nacional (30%) and Syrah (30%) grape varieties.

A beautiful salmon colour, its fine and lively aromas reveal a complex profile of forest fruits – raspberry, blueberry and strawberry – on the nose, with a hint of tobacco and green peppercorn.

On the palate, it is an elegant fruity wine, with notes of aromatic herbs; it has an elevated acidity and an easy-drinking character with a medium persistent finish.

Best served at a temperature of 10-12°C, it partners successfully with white and cured meat, harvested vegetables, or dishes with aromatic green herbs. This excellent rosé with its freshness and lightness is highly recommended summertime drinking.

This journey started in 1998 when the estate that had belonged to the Luiz Gomes family was acquired. The first wine, Azamor 2003, was produced from the oldest sectors of the vineyard. The owners’ aim is to improve the wines every vintage, year after year. And every season, their unique fruity, complex, beautifully balanced and elegant wines continue to please clients across the world.

Azamor has a total of 260 hectares, 25 hectares of which are planted with vines, 30 hectares with cork oaks and pines, 140 hectares with 50-year-old olive groves, and 62 hectares of Portuguese oak trees, home to some Lusitano Horses.

There are four types of Portuguese grape varieties planted – Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Trincadeira and Alicante Bouschet – and three international varieties, Syrah, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

Azamor Petit Verdot The Petit Verdot grape originates from France where it is traditionally used in blended wines. With a wonderfully vibrant colour, this is an elegant red wine with a beautifully delicate fruit aroma, soft fresh fruit flavours, and a classic French oak barrel lift with soft ripe tannins.

Pairing perfectly with game dishes, venison, partridge, pheasant, rabbit and steak, it is also a great compliment to the typical Portuguese desserts filled with egg cream.

Icon d’Azamor This is an exceptional red blend of Alicante Bouschet (40%), Touriga Franca (40%) and Petit Verdot (20%) grape varieties. Handpicked at harvest, the skin of the grapes left before pressing and malolactic fermentation started. The wine is aged for 24 months in the cellar in French and American oak barrels.

It is an elegant and smooth wine, full of fruity aromas with a dense plum flavour that give way to a velvety finish. Enjoy this one with friends on special occasions, and pair it with all meat dishes.

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