Behind the label: Luis Seabra

Behind the label: Luis Seabra

Every now and then an exciting name appears during our research into market newcomers. In the past few years, we’ve uncovered a few gems. One which prompted us to take a closer look is Luis Seabra.

With an impeccable pedigree having worked as head winemaker at the prestigious Niepoort estates, he set up his own venture in 2012, aiming to focus on the wines he wanted to create, rather than satisfy the demands of the market. And this crossover to making his own style has produced some absolute winners.

His philosophy is to deliver a product that tells the story of the place it is made using a process that involves minimal intervention. At his high-altitude vineyards in Portugal’s Douro Valley, Luis works diligently to achieve his goal of producing unique wines.

We knew from an early tasting that the wines he is creating are special, and we were thrilled to secure a small allocation for the Scottish market. Luis produces both whites and reds that are based on blends of native grape varieties from ancient, co-planted vineyards on a combination of soil types. We offer four of his wines, and we hope that if you decide to try them, you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.

The first of the quartet is Mono C Castelao which offers aromas of red and blue fruit. The initial sip brings out flavours of sour cherry, plum and blueberry alongside floral and mineral hints that represent the area where the grapes are grown. There’s some tannin which gives it a nice balance. We think this wine benefits from being lightly chilled, and you should like it if you’re a fan of Beaujolais.

We can also recommend three Seabra whites. The Xisto Cru Branco is strong on local flavours with the main grape being Rabigato, while the remaining 30% is an equal blend of Codega, Gouveio and Viosinho Dozelino Branco which are harvested from sustainably farmed vineyards dating back to 1920-1933. The wine is fermented in used barrels using indigenous yeast present on the fruit and spends nine months on the lees before ageing for a further 12 months in used French oak barrels, although there’s no strong oak influence in the taste. The mineral from the shist clay in the name combines with acidity and strong citrus flavours to produce a powerful wine.

The two others are from the Vinho Verde region. The first, Granito Cru Dao, is made from grapes grown on vines that are at least 35 years old in high-altitude granite soils. The combination of Encruzado, Bical and Sercial produces a wine where various forms of lemon dominate.

Granito Cru Alvarinho is made with Portugal’s answer to the similarly named grape from across the border in Spain. Seabra’s process takes carefully chosen parcels of the grapes and matures them in two large oak vats to deliver a wine that is creamy and nutty, with flavours of stone fruit and citrus that differs a little from most other Alvarinhos.

When we discovered Luis Seabra’s wines, we felt we had stumbled across a maker worth following. Nothing that has happened since then has made us change our minds. We hope you’ll agree!