Pormenor was established in Douro in 2013 following the dream of three friends – José Silva, Miguel Cardozo and Pedro Coelho. The wine bound at the time was somehow indirect with older family members who worked both as oak barrel producers and as cork producers, but no one really had embraced the mission to produce good wines. It was just a question of time until Pormenor wines were released to the market for the first time in 2014, finally filling the gap! The first ever vintage produced consisted of two white wines and no reds. Really? Well … for sure this is unusual in Douro. The three families joint forces together under a fundamental common element: Douro is the cradle of the Portuguese wine renaissance and at the same time the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. This is the right place where to start.
Pormenor means “detail” in English. Evidently, Pedro Coelho has indeed paid attention to all the details and taken care of business as his first vintage in 2014 sold out quickly. Not a bad start at all.
Portugal is a kind of strange country when it comes to wine careers: agronomist and enologist move from one project to another pretty quickly, trying to experiment as much as possible in different areas of the country. Truth is that there are a lot of vineyards left abandoned and that the market is dominated by big and vulgar companies producing hollow and forgettable wines. Small producers are quite rare to scout and find and therefore enologist have pretty much a free hand to jump on different wine projects with a plenty of freedom and available vineyards to manage from A to Z.
Pedro Coelho has been working a good amount of years in Quinta do Portal and after a trainee at Niepoort met his true mentor, Luis Seabra (ex-Niepoort man in the cellar), now focused on his own “Cru” (translation “Raw”) wine project. Seabra’s wine philosophy is easy to explain in one sentence: back to basics. This gives the path to minimal wines with less intervention as possible. Pedro Coelho wines reflect his own personality and experience gained in the last decade by expressing what he considers the real and the best of Douro: soils, old Vines, old indigenous grapes and climate. All main key elements because, once again, wines are made in the vineyard and the main goal in the cellar is to keep the rhythm going without adding useless additives. In other words by using traditional winemaking techniques in harmony and respect for the local grapes’ heritage.
Quoting Pedro: “We don’t assume ourselves as a biodynamic or a natural producer although we do not inoculate yeasts or use any kind of non natural product. The work is done in a very non-intervention way by letting the natural conditions of each vintage to be reflected in a bottle of wine”.
It´s a question of self-philosophy searching for wines that tend to present a moderate alcohol level, displaying high freshness and texture as a result of “normal” traditional wine making process. In harmony and respect for the grapes characteristics, Pormenor looks to produce honest wines, whose ideology is attached to the motto that “less is more”. Pedro prefers to keep chemical elements and superfluous technologies tools out of the winemaking process in order to enhance the raw material (the local varieties).
The Douro is the 3rd longest river in the Iberian peninsula, after the Tagus and the Ebro. In Spain, where it is called Duero, it flows through Castilla y León, home to Ribera del Duero and Toro DOs. The Spanish countryside here is beautiful, but not rugged or particularly harsh, that comes later once we are within sight of Portugal. Arribes del Duero – where the river marks the frontier – is where the dramatic landscapes start and from here to Vila Nova de Gaia major centres of population are scarce and the wild and rugged hillsides dominate.
The Douro hosts three winegrowing sub-regions. The Baixo Corgo (Lower Corgo) is the furthest west, covering the area from Mesão Frio crossing Regua to a tributary of the Douro called the Corgo River. In the middle lies the Cima Corgo (Upper Corgo), an area that includes Pinhão (one of the most famous village in the region), followed further east by the Douro Superior (Upper Douro), an enormous region that runs from Carrazeda de Ansiães to Barca d’Alva and Freixo. That said, the further east you move up the valley towards the Spanish border, the hotter and drier it gets.
Baixo Corgo is the smallest of the three, but has the greatest concentration of vineyards (14,582 hectares). The Cima Corgo is the heartland of Port production and is home to many of the best known Port brands and quintas, with 20,969 hectares under vine. The Douro Superior is used far less for grapes and has only 10,175 hectares.
Pedro invested his time and money in research and not in buying vineyards which is something often done when your attitude is open minded. He sources grapes for his white wines from Pombal de Ansiães in Douro Superior region, while the red varietals come from Soutelo do Douro and Nagoselo do Douro in Cima Corgo. What does link white and reds grapes? Both come from exclusively old vines planted at high altitudes, both are only indigenous varieties from Douro. The youngest vine is 50 year old, while other reach the 100 year old mark.
For wine lovers who are bored of the so-called Big Four grapes (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah/Shiraz), the Douro Valley makes a wonderful change. There are more than 80 indigenous varieties cultivated considering both whites and reds.
Introducing the 1st wine imported by Steep Hill, the White Reserva 2016 is a blend of Rabigato 90% with a dash of Malvasia Fina elaborated together. Here the vineyards are planted from 600mt to 800 mts above the sea level and are pretty steep. Fermented with no control temperature in 225Lt and 228Lt old French Barrique with no malolactic fermentation or battonage, the wine ages at the same barriques for 10 months with the small lees at the same used French barriques for 10 months until bottling. The wine is naturally stabilized. 2.400 bottles of 75 cl produced.
Pormenor’s red varieties cultivated include Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela and Rufete. Strange enough the 2015 vintage imported by Steep Hill has not a drop of Touriga Nacional in the field blend. All the grape varieties were harvested and fermented together with maceration for 25 days in stainless steel vats. The wine aged in used French oak barrique of 225 Lt and 228 Lt for 18 months until bottling. 6.350 bottles of 75 cl produced. Generally grapes harvested earlier tend to produce wines with restrained alcoholic levels and bright freshness and this is what happened in 2015, considered by Pedro a hot vintage with low levels of humidity.
Overall Pedro produces at the moment two white wines (the entry level and the reserve), one rose, two reds (Pormenor and the freshly released Trilho) plus some small batches of Port which are sold exclusively at the moment in the domestic market. The total production’s amount is round 40.000 bottles per year. New projects may be on the road, just keep on watching.
In a nutshell
- Who: Pormenor
- Where: Douro, Barcos
- What: Typical Douro's indigenous varieties
- Hectares: no property hectares
- Quantity: 40.000 bottles yearly
- Plus: Artisanal winemaking (including only spontaneous fermentations) with very limited additives displaying unusual wines with low alcohol and moderate extractions.