Aphros Wines, 2016 Phanus Palhete
Region: Vinho Verde
This wine….. Made in Anfora with no electricity through production. Closer to a rose than a red, the phanus is funky and different in the best possible way. Very tasty.
To many wine shoppers, Portugal is mostly known for value whites and reds...and Port of course. Vinho Verde, for example, is a region that is synonymous with inexpensive, low alcohol thirst quenching white wines of the same name. Many people don't realize that there are red wines from Vinho Verde, let alone skin contact amphora aged whites and medieval-style field blends! Enter Aphros winery...
Starting in 2003, Vasco Croft set out to revive his family's semi-abandoned property in Casal do Paço, in the Vinho Verde region. The estate has been in the Croft family since the 17th century and covers a total of 20 hectares, including four hectares of vines and another four of chestnut orchards. A firm believer in Biodynamics (Vasco led the Waldorf movement in Portugal in his previous life as an architect), Croft immediately began converting the estate after he arrived, and the ecosystem is now thriving, with wild horses, sheep, and bees (the vineyard manager, Alberto Araújo, tends to the beehives). There have been small additions of parcels over the years, as production has slowly increased, and all the vineyards are farmed Biodynamically.
A truly fascinating aspect of the winery has been their research of medieval winemaking styles, and Vasco's drive to rely less on technology, which has led them to pursue the idea of making wine without the use of electricity. Their Phaunus wines (the focus of this email) are all made in this fashion. Grapes are harvested by hand, and crushed by foot. A manual vertical press is used and they were able to track down some old Talha amphorae from the south of Portugal for aging. The amphorae are lined with beeswax, and a small amount of olive oil is used as a cap to prevent any voile from forming. There is no temperature control during fermentation or aging, and wines are bottled by hand. As head winemaker Miguel Viseu says, "This is how wine was made 1,000 years ago!"