A celebrated chef, Vitor Claro is upfront about not being a ‘classically trained’ winemaker, but he has a clear vision to create artisanal, gastronomic wines with authenticity and freshness. In 2010, his vision took him to Portalegre – the Alentejo’s highest, northern-most, coolest outpost, which has a rich heritage of old field blend varieties. Located on the slopes of the Serra de S. Mamede, Portalegre’s oak and chestnut trees speak to its cooler climate and higher rainfall.
Until recently, most field blend grapes were disappearing into the local co-operative’s melting plot, diluting terroir and quality. But Claro has been at the vanguard of producers producing single vineyard wines and elevating the quality of this Alentejo sub-region’s wines with his Dominó label. Much to his chagrin, the maiden 2010 red failed to obtain DOC status because it was deemed “too acidic, with a vegetal aroma.” How times have changed – freshness and difference have much more currency these days. And how that wine evolves with time in bottle. Dominó White is every bit its equal and his Portalegre range has expanded, especially now he and his partner Rita have bought a house, cellar and vineyard there.
The couple are also making exciting out-of-the-box wines from vineyards located in Lisboa’s tiny Colares and Carcavelos regions although, since they do not conform to the DOC regulations, they are not classified as DOC. Vitor likes to go his own way, picking early and working naturally. His wines are edgy - fresh with funk.