In Salvaterra de Magos, two brothers, Tomás and António Vieira da Cruz, defy time and make wines that seek to bottle pieces of land. We are talking about a small family property in Salvaterra de Magos, Terra Larga, where Areias Gordas wines are born.
The origins of Salvaterra de Magos are ancient. Royalty and nobility also settled here centuries ago. Fertile, flat land, with water available for sailing and irrigation, some of the reasons for the royal settlement. It also has a tradition in bullfighting and animal husbandry.
The Areias Gordas vineyards are located right on the banks of the great river, surrounded by horticultural crops, on the plain, where they make distinctive wines with their own rules, as the location requires it.
They are in the Campo sub-region, in the fertile soils of the river and alluvial floods. Campo has been the land of Tagus white wines, mainly based on Fernão Pires, worked with high yields due to the high vegetative vigor in fertile soils that originate wines with a lighter structure and less complex character. Exactly the opposite of what is born in the Vieira da Cruz household.
António and Tomás' grandfather already produced and sold a lot of wine from those vineyards, which have been in the family for over 70 years.
After his death in the 1980s, production became “house wine”, until one of the six brothers of the new generation, Tomás, an economist by profession, came to rescue this property in Ribatejo, after a work of conversion of the vineyard, and launch the first label with the Areias Gordas brand in 1996.
Tomás left his mark in some well-known houses, either as an oenologist or as a consultant, with passages through Adega Cooperativa de Borba, Sogrape Quinta dos Carvalhais, Dona Berta or Quinta dos Terms, among others.
Tomás became the “vigneron” of the house, supported by the family, and António, who is always traveling for work, the best brand ambassador.
The 15 hectares of vineyards in Terra Larga form a rectangle perpendicular to the river. The vines, between 30 and 70 years old, are made up of white varieties such as Fernão Pires, Arinto, Alvarinho, Sémillon, (thinking of the versatility that the Tagus brings), and Trincadeira das Pratas. In the reds to Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Alicante Bouschet, Castelão, Trincadeira Preta, etc., with thick trunks and deep roots, reaching up to six meters, subjected to a very short pruning to contain excess vigor.
It is from this uninspiring terroir that truly inspired wines come out. From sparkling wines and light white wines in volume, Tomás and António impress, on the contrary, with whites of fabulous character, which defy the test of time, to unusual dessert wines and even wines with a “flower” of yeasts, like “Jura” or Jerez!
In another three-hectare vineyard, in Almourol, Praia do Ribatejo, in the Bairro area, the varieties Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon and a little Alfrocheiro Preto are planted, to compose the symphonic complexity of the deep reds , fresh and equally durable from the house.
The Terra Larga winery is right inside the vineyard, putting the saying “wine is made in the vineyard” into practice. For this reason, they try to be “very Australian when the grapes arrive”, to avoid any unwanted action of harmful microorganisms, oxidation, excessive temperatures, and “after the start of fermentation, we are very French”, recommending indigenous yeasts whenever possible, and minimal interventions, in the best Burgundy style.
The year rules and in the cellar this order is followed in the best way they know how. Wines rely on time, meteorological time, the time needed for their refinement and defy time with their reputed aging capacity.
Wines from year to year have a common thread, their own personality, although each harvest may have a different combination of grape varieties.
Tomás sees and feels the best of the vineyard every year. Which caste performed best and what was the personality of each year.
The most distinctive attribute of Areias Gordas wines, for those who have already discovered this secret, is the ability to keep their whites. The reds evolve very well and gain a fascinating complexity. But the highlight are the white wines that, in monovarietal or batch versions, are better after a decade in the bottle; even the first vintage of 1996 is still in fantastic shape.
Areias Gordas wines are still illustrious unknown to the vast majority of connoisseurs. Anyone who tries the white Terra Larga from 1999 or the 5ª de Mahler from 2000, also white, will not soon forget them. Discover them and become part of this secret.