2016 Vitor Claro Colmeal Dominó Tinto
Region: Beira < Alentejo < Portugal
Grapes: mostly Marufo, with some Rufete, Baga + Siria
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming, granite soils; field blend, aged in stainless steel; bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal added SO2; 11%
Winemaker: Vitor Claro
Vitor was an up-and-coming chef in Portugal when he got the wine bug from Dirk Niepoort (the guy who pretty much put Portuguese wine on the global map) and decided to try his hands at making the kind of wine he wanted to drink with the food he cooked at his restaurant. By 2016, he had given up the restaurant to focus full time on wine. He tells a story of his early days, in a lab with another winemaker who was pushing all of the enology “products” (boxes of chemicals + additives) on him. It hit him that nobody was talking about the grapes at all, and told the guy, “We will do a wine with none of that stuff. You’ll be amazed.” He did, and we are. This wine, his Tinto (young red), a field blend of local varietals, is refreshing, light and energetic, quite different than the typical reds of the Alentejo region, most of which are best described as “warm and generous”. This one is lean yet textural, with intriguing saltiness, fragrant orange peel and crunchy red fruits. Sort of rustic and al dente up front, with a long, pretty finish. And at only 11% ABV, it works with food and without, and won’t wreck your palate – or your morning. Serve slightly chilled.