Among Sintra, Vila Franca, Mafra and Lisbon, the small wine region of Bucelas endures the pressure of urbanism. It is there that, among a group of producers, Quinta do Avelar elaborates some of the most distinguished and original white wines of our country.
The tiny Bucelas wine region is situated 25 kilometers away from Lisbon. Its reputation goes back to the period of the French invasions when the Duke of Wellington, leading the resistance against Napoleon, has offered this wine to the Regent Prince that would later be crowned as George VI of England. The rest, as we usually say, is History.
In 1868, the honorable professor Ferreira Lapa has dedicated to Bucelasvery appreciative comments: He called it a “rough diamond” that he would gladly situate “between Basac and Sauternes” to round the great white wines from La Gironde”. In 1911, after the implantation of the republic, Bucelas was recognized as a wine region.
It is a hilly and mountainous area, with an eccentric microclimate, cold in the winter, mild in the summer, suffering thermal fluctuations that don’t reach excessive temperatures, decorated by vineyards sheltered in valleys - where the heat is maintained - or disposed in gentle, not very high half slopes.
Two vine varieties are very well adjusted to the climate and the clay and limestone soils of Bucelas. The Arinto originates white wines that acquire an especially fruity aroma, very floral, with a high degree of acidity. It is the predominant variety of the region. In a much lesser scale we have Cerceal, a productive vine variety, acid, that is called Esgana Cão.
In Quinta do Avelar, acquired by the Geraldes Barba family in 1980, 40 out of its 233 hectares are dedicated to the production of wine, originating one thousand and two hundred hectoliters per year. Arinto, naturally, finds in this place its perfect habitat.
After the harvest by hand,the grapes mature in a suitable cellar in stainless steel vats, for a period of, at least, ten months, with temperature control in order to preserve their primary aromas, very intense and volatile. After, they age in oak barrels. The Quinta do Avelar Arinto, symbol of the winery, has a citric color and a very pleasant tasting with soft and fresh apricot, pineapple and citrus fruit aromas combined with elegant mineral hints. Involving and very elegant, it gives a long and fragrant aftertaste.
In recent years Quinta do Avelar has started to produce Vinhas Velhas. It is a red wine originated from a batch of old vineyards, circa 80 years, of Castelão, Trincadeira and Tinta Miúda. It matures for 15 months in French oak barrels and it is characterized by its mineral, jelly and cassis aromas, soft hints of spices, good structure and great final persistence.
Thanks to Quinta do Avelar and to a tiny group of producers that are trying to keep the noble heritage of Bucelas untouched, we can enjoy the fresh, aromatic and deeply original whites of our beloved Bucelas. Like a piece of History of our rural life, they allow us to keep our taste for our roots, in its most delicious expression so very close to the capital.