Thanks to shifts in weather patterns and climate change, supply chain complications, rising temperatures, and fluctuating soil quality, winemakers are facing an expansive list of challenges posing a threat to their craft. It’s not exclusive to the wine industry by any means, either. A quick search on Google will provide any number of articles detailing similar issues in the spirits and beer world. It’s a weird, wild world out there, and companies big and small are looking for solutions.
We recently had an opportunity to enjoy a relaxed chat with two key people behind Portugal’s Herdade Do Esporão: winemaker Sandra Alves and CEO João Roquette, to discuss the core tenets of its “personal sustainability” company philosophy and sample four of their most recent offerings.
Esporão is not only one of the largest producers of organic wine in Portugal, but worldwide, with the majority of its vineyards reaching fully-certified organic status in 2020 (some weather conditions prevent their vineyards from achieving a company-wide certification). However, the company uses a variety of sustainable efforts (natural pest control, animal grazing, composting) and deep attention to soil quality in an effort to significantly reduce its already limited use of chemicals. The company is also investigating alternative packaging for its wines in the hopes of creating an eco-friendlier solution rather than relying on traditional delivery methods. Along with a commitment to a slower-paced lifestyle and process for every step of their production, rejecting mainstream business notions of fast and cheap, the company’s efforts are admirable and proactive.
And now for the wines:
2018 Herdade Do Esporao Colheita Red – Immediately accessible and full of juicy raspberry from start to finish, with notes of pomegranate and black currant providing some depth and keeping this from being a one-dimensional bottle. There is some crispness to the medium-length finish, adding brightness to an otherwise subtle and silken affair. Very tough to put down, it delivers excellence on the quality-to-cost ratio. A- / $18
2018 Herdade Do Esporao Reserva Red – Complex and well-structured with notes of red cherry, blueberry, and black currant layered on top of one another. An elegant full-bodied finish is medium in length, making for a wine that would not out of line to be served with something fresh off the grill. B+ / $25
2020 Herdade Do Esporao Colheita White – Vibrant pineapple and peach provide a classic, medium-bodied structure, with a touch of acidity from the lemon appearing midway through the palate. It opens and improves with some air and time, with a hint of green apple on the finish providing a bit of complexity. B+ / $18
2020 Herdade Do Esporao Reserva White – Aromatic with short bursts of pineapple, tangerine, and white peach, there’s a light influence of orchard fruit towards the finish. It’s a gentle bottle that’s sweet and clean, but never overpowering and well-balanced. Some time is required to sort itself out once in the glass, but patience with the wine pays off. A- /$20