Constantino Ramos is a rising star in Vinho Verde’s Monção e Melgaço sub-region. Having spent nine years working for one of the region’s most respected names – Anselmo Mendes – in January 2022 he decided to concentrate full-time on the project he started in his wife’s cousin’s garage in 2016.
It is hard to believe now but, until the 1970s, Vinho Verde predominantly produced rather rustic red wines. Leading producers have only recently explored the quality potential of red wines, starting with Vinhão. Constantino, a history nut, has pushed the envelope, focusing on elevated, old field blend vineyards rising to 400m, planted to Alvarelhão (a.k.a. Brancelho), Borraçal (Galicia’s (Caíño), Pedral, Espadeiro and Vinhão.
His goal? To highlight the potential of Monção’s light red wines which, he says, were exported to England and Flanders back in the XIV century as an alternative to Burgundy. When we told Constantino that Zafirah, his entry-point wine, put us in mind of cutting edge Galician wines (with the likes of Rodrigo Méndez of Forjas del Salnés in mind), he told us they were also an inspiration. From a 100-year-old vineyard JUCA, his top tier red, is super-intense and inky.
In addition to seeking out old field blend parcels, the lover of fresh, high acidity, light, low alcohol wines has planted new vineyards to these traditional red varieties. Constantino has also planted his sub-region’s star variety, Alvarinho and makes a stunning early-harvested Alvarinho, Afluente, with a mineral, austere profile. The minimal interventionist cultivates his parcels without herbicides or pesticides.