Trás-os-Montes DOC has flown under the radar, but a dynamic duo is fast putting this north-easternmost region on the map. Frederico Machado and Ricardo Alves are the young guns behind Arribas Wine Company, so-called because they feel a greater connection to the Spanish DOC of Arribes on the opposite banks of the river Douro than to Trás-os-montes’ Planalto Mirandês sub-region, where they are based. After all, their vineyards are located on steeply raked granite boulder-strewn hills, not the planalto (plateau). They ripen more slowly.
Machado and Alves had been thinking to continue working in the neighbouring better-known Douro region after an apprenticeship at Niepoort. The potential of Bemposta’s old field blend vineyards failed to register with the winemakers until they stumbled across them following a party in Machado’s grandfather’s village in 2017. For Machado, “everything made sense…it was impossible that no-one was doing anything with them,” he says, referring to obscure old field blend varieties. The micro-negociants who look after the vineyards in exchange for grapes have swiftly extended operations beyond Bemposta, which has no white wine vineyards. Busy exploring the different soils, altitudes, aspects and interrogating grapes of uncertain identity, their exciting range is mushrooming. The pair’s motto is ‘keep doing better by doing’ and they are true to their word.