Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Jani Dunne
A dream turned into desire; a will turned into reality; this is how, between Vidigueira and Cuba, Herdade do Rocim came to be. This wine producer in Alentejo relies on a piece of land about 250 acres big; it was acquired in 2000 by José Ribeiro Vieira, a businessman in Leiria, upon request from one of his daughters, Catarina Vieira, an oenologist.
The land underwent restructuring and qualification work for 6 long years, which included planting most of the vines, which today covers 150 acres, 100 of which grow red varieties, and 50 acres grow white. The highlight of the project was when they built a cellar perfectly in tune with the landscape; the area’s top features are the wine tourism and its ability to embrace the many cultural initiatives.
These days, Herdade do Rocim is included in the big producers with headquarters in Alentejo. It relies on a team of three oenologists, comprising Catarina Vieira, Pedro Ribeiro and Vânia Guibarra. Nothing is overlooked there, which is the reason for the precision and good taste that took over the farm, located very near Vidigueira. We can tell, in the entire range of wines and products sold, the detail and affection they are wrapped in. Even in the way they are presented, every detail is seen to. Once again, a world of small treats, under a feminine hand, that of producer Catarina Vieira.
The wine range has been expanding, the labels undergoing the necessary aesthetic adjustments, and the wines the necessary profile adjustments, and prove better and better with every harvest. From the whites to the reds, they turn out refreshing and appealing most of all; the fruit isn’t heavy at all, and its profile always reveals a good harmony between the components. All the wines are cuisine-appropriate. People who say Alentejo wines have no freshness, or are unable to last the test of time, are proven wrong by this bunch. Herdade de Rocim is part of the group of producers who have shown a will and the skills to demystify all those lies told over and over again. Also resulting from that will are a few recent products, such as a Espumante (sparkling wine) or, actually, the Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouschet as varieties. I could even enhance the Rosé from the Mariana range, or compliment the colossal top-of-the-range Grande Rocim.
However, to me, the most touching wines were Amphora, a white and a red, born and raised in the famous Alentejo amphoras. They are unique, bearing the soul and identity of an entire region. These wines are the image of their creator, Sr. Pedro, the maker in Herdade do Rocim who is on first name terms with the pots. He certainly knows them from a small age, and feels like he and the art were raised together. And so these two wines catapulted me to a time in the past I will never see again; after all, these wines are the ones that, by being so simple, sometimes grow to be so great and so complex. I sailed on the aromas, the scents that invoke memories, amused by my desire to pour and drink another glass, feeling no exhaustion whatsoever and with a smile on my face. I could see that same smile on Sr. Pedro’s face while we chatted.
The white Amphora, just like the red, is produced in a traditional fashion and makes no contact with stainless steel or wood. It’s made from Antão Vaz, Perrum, Rabo de Ovelha and Manteúdo, the difference being the hue, which evokes the colour of brass. Then, it’s time for all the aroma paraphernalia; after some time in the glass, it makes complete sense. In a mix of resin and vegetables, the ripe fruit is clear and surrounded by flowers, all very fresh and inviting, mysterious and captivating. In the mouth, it wins you over for the simple refreshing way it strokes your palate; it stays true to itself while inviting you for another sip.
The red Amphora blend includes Aragonez, Trincadeira, Moreto and Tinta Grossa varieties. Its colour, an open hue of ruby with very present fruit (fruits of the forest, strawberry, plum), and wrapped in a thin layer of clay. In the background, some resin, a hint of smoke, cocoa powder. It’s a very fresh and tireless profile that captivates you with its simplicity, and with the joy it reveals and introduces itself. It comprises the simplicity of a people and the warm hug of a land. In the palate, you taste the fruit, the slightly dry finish and that taste of dry clay at the same time as it suggests some food and sitting down for a chat.
Estrada Nacional 387 | Apartado 64
7940-909 Cuba, Alentejo
Tel: (+351) 284 415 180
Fax: (+351) 284 415 188
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