Monte d’Oiro translates as mountain of gold, and it refers to the golden colour taken in early evening by the hill on which many of the vineyards are planted. The vineyard is in the Alenquer sub region, with the Atlantic 20 km to the west and Lisbon 50 km to the south. Climate is Mediterranean with the moderating influences of cool breezes: this is a pretty windy site.
This is the project of José Bento dos Santos, who was a metal dealer who fell in love with food and wine. He bought the Monte d’Oiro estate, and decided to plant it chiefly with Rhône varieties, especially Syrah, Viognier and Marsanne. José was a private customer and friend of Michel Chapoutier, and for a while they had a joint venture together. Chapoutier helped procure some cuttings from top northern Rhône sites to plant a 2.5 hectare block high density (8000 as opposed to the normal 4000 vines/ha) with massale selection Syrah: a separate wine from this block 24 is now made. The Chapoutier joint venture didn’t last, but Grégory Viennois, who was Chapoutier’s winemaker and is now with Laroche, is still consulting here. He comes quite a bit and takes an active role: he’s not just a consultant that arrives, does some Instagram pictures, takes his cheque and leaves.
Altogether, there are 20 hectares of vines on the site, but this year another 9 hectares have been planted with a similar mix to the varieties already on the farm. The exception is a half-hectare block planted with a variety that’s secret, for now. My ampelography skills weren’t sufficient to work out the identity of the variety, although I’m hoping it’s Gamay, even though Grenache would be a more sensible choice (it didn’t look like Nebbiolo; maybe it is Sangiovese?).
I met with José’s son, Francisco Bento dos Santos, who has been involved here for quite a while and who’s been running things since 2012. I also met with winemaker Graça Gonçalves.
The vineyard has been farmed organically since 2006, but was only certified in 2015. Soils are calcareous clay loams, and vary a bit: some blocks are more calcareous, and some are quite a bit more fertile. The fertile soils in the valley are used for whites, but the best Viognier block is on the main slope. All the wines are made from estate-grown grapes.
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Lybra Rose 2016 Lisboa, Portugal
From Syrah plot no 6 chosen specifically for rosé production, with less defoliation and earlier harvesting. Made like a white wine, whole bunch pressing, and fermentation without maceration. Low temperature fermentation. Fresh and lively with very direct, balanced fruit. Some citrus, plus a hint of tangerine and some crisp cranberry notes. Pale in colour and very astute, in a dry, food-friendly. 88/100 (retail €8)
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Lybra Viognier, Arinto and Marsanne 2016 Lisboa, Portugal
Around 50% Viognier, 30% Marsanne and 20% Arinto, more or less reflecting the vine balance in the vineyard. Valley grapes. Unoaked. Lovely aromatics here with a peach, apricot and pear quality as well as some subtle nuttiness. There’s a bit of richness on the palate but also some fresh pithiness. This is impressive for the price. 90/100 (retail €8)
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Madrigal Viognier 2015 Lisboa, Portugal
From plot no 7, not in the valley, the best plot. There is a strict ripening control and this parcel is harvested twice, first the outside bunches and then a second pass to take the inner bunches. 40% oak, new and old, 500 litres, small battonage. The rest is stainless steel. Each harvest is split into tank and barrel. Bold and concentrated with nuts, spice, pear and peach fruit. Lively with nice acidity offsetting the power and richness of the midpalate. Really crystalline and tight wound, this will develop nicely. 92/100
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Lybra Syrah 2014 Lisboa, Portugal
Blend of several Syrah plots, still low yielding at 5 tons/hectare. Fresh, vivid and juicy with ripe, sweet berry fruits and a bit of spicy oak (only second and third year barrels). Has nice structure and freshness with a juicy quality to the red fruits, as well as subtle hints of clove and cedar. There’s much more concentration and depth than you’d expect at this level, and it was a horrible vintage with lots of rain, so it’s a great effort. 90/100 (€9/10 retail)
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Aurius 2012 Lisboa, Portugal
80% Touriga Nacional and the balance Syrah. Beautifully fresh and vivid with bright, direct raspberry and cherry fruit with a hint of meatiness. Around a third new oak here, but it is well integrated. Fresh, focused and floral with nice brightness and weight. Such a lovely dense core of focused, balanced berry and cherry fruit with good acidity. 93/100 (€20 retail)
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Reserva 2012 Lisboa, Portugal
The flagship wine of the property. Several plots of Syrah, from the best plots, with 4% Viognier co-fermented. In 2012 this was plots 9, 8 top, 1 top and 24 (the massale selection). 40% new oak. Dense and fresh with a tiny hint of mint, clove, cedar and black pepper alongside sweet berry and cherry fruits. Nicely spicy with lovely focus and grip. This is quite structured and could evolve nicely. Nice weight. 92/100 (€32 retail)
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Syrah 24 2013 Lisboa, Portugal
Massale selection plot, with vines from the northern Rhône, planted 2002. 2.4 hectare plot. First vintage of this wine was 2007. Fresh and vivid with a slightly saline quality to the fresh, vivid red and black fruits. This has nice presence with good acidity and some structure, and also some gloss to it. Very focused and bright with ripe, sleek fruit and some nice structure. 92/100 (€45 retail)
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Syrah 1997 Estremadura, Portugal
A great treat to try the debut wine from the estate. Mature and evolved with a leathery, slightly earthy nose of iodine and mint, but still so alluring. Warm, rich, spicy palate with real complexity. Sweet and evolved but textured and fine with a ripe, sweet maturity. 93/100
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Syrah 2004 Estremadura, Portugal
Aromatic with a fresh, slightly herbal edge to the nicely spiced, slightly minty berry fruits on the nose. The palate is fresh with a warm spiciness to the fruit, and attractive berry fruits. Really interesting. 92/100
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Têmpera 2004 Estremadura, Portugal
This is Tinta Roriz. Nice weight with some warmth and depth, and fine spicy notes. Sweet berries and cherries. Warm but appealing. 91/100
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Lybra Syrah 2007 Estremadura, Portugal
Earthy and spicy with nice red fruits and some grip. Fresh and attractive. 88/100
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Têmpera 2007 Estremadura, Portugal
Earth, herbs and spices. Nice grip. Has freshness and fruit, still, even though it has evolved. 89/100
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Aurius 2007 Estremadura, Portugal
Touriga Nacional plus Syrah and a splash of Petit Verdot. Fresh, grippy and crunchy with nice density of appealing black fruits. Grainy, dense and savoury. 90/100
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Syrah Reserva 2007 Estremadura, Portugal
Syrah with 4% Viognier. Floral and vivid with fresh juicy berry fruits and fine-grained structure. Sweet and pure with a hint of violet and some peppery notes. There’s some earthy spiciness, too. 92/100
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Syrah 24 Estremadura, Portugal
Single parcel, massale selection. Sweet, warm and spicy with nice density and notes of herbs and pepper, as well as warm spicy fruit. There’s some grip here. 91/100
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Ex Aequo 2007 Estremadura, Portugal
This is 75% Syrah and 25% Touriga Nacional, and was the joint venture wine made in collaboration with Michel Chapoutier. Ripe, sweet and a bit floral with rich berry fruits and some grippy, peppery structure. Bold and delicious in a ripe style. 91/100
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