Winery to Watch 2013

Portugal: Muxagat

Young winemakers are playing with the vineyards and vines of the Douro valley, creating fresh new reds unlike any in the past. Mateus Nicolau de Almeida is one winemaker to watch in the Douro, for bright and earthy wines like his Muxagat Barroca. “This is how people make wine for themselves,” Mateus Nicolau de Almeida told me when he poured the 2012 Muxagat Barroca, a bright, rustic red he makes from high-altitude vineyards in Mêda, where the Douro schist meets granite. The son of João Nicolau de Almeida of Ramos Pinto, Mateus started Muxugat with Teresa Ameztoy, his wife, who is Ramos Pinto’s Douro production manager and enologist. They took over an abandoned winery in Mêda in 2003, using local varieties to make wines that have nothing to do with tradition. Barroca is their most consistently delicious red, but the Signe 2010 caught my attention this summer—a co-fermentation of tinta cao with ten percent rabigato (a white grape), aged for three years in old oak barrels. It has a rough sort of beauty that keeps shifting in the glass.