How do you choose your wines?
Brian and Jennifer Patterson, the people behind Real Portuguese Wine, have been nurturing a love affair with Portuguese wines for over 10 years. What started in 2008 as annual trips to Portugal to taste (drink) and learn morphed into the decision to make the big move in 2016. From the beginning, we have made it a priority to visit every wine growing region in the country, meet with producers, and explore vineyards. Learning about micro-climates, growing techniques, and cellar practices has been an important part of the adventure, and we have tasted hundreds of wines along the way. The questions we always ask ourselves when tasting wine are: Does this wine excite us? Does this wine have something to say for itself?
At the end of the day, what's in the bottle is what matters. There are millions of wines in the world ranging from conventional to natural, and everything in between. After tasting so many wines, it's easy to see a great homogenization amongst the wines of the world, and so what we look for are wines that stand apart from that same-ness. We want wines that say with sincerity “Look at me, I am special”. And then we look for the story of the wine and in learning that story we form relationships.
We have personal relationships with each and every wine producer we sell, and we do our best to stay in regular contact with our winemakers. We see them at fairs, in their vineyards, over dinner – wherever we can catch up and stay connected. This is what brings a bottle of fermented grape juice to life; it is what adds that mystical, yet very human touch to what is otherwise a simple and ancient beverage.
In keeping with our philosophy on what makes Portuguese wine “Real”, we look for winemakers who are willing and able to push the envelope and do things their own way, even if it means breaking a few rules. Organic viticulture is also important, because in an era of climate change, it is hard to understand why a producer would not seek to go that direction. It is imperative for both the environment and for the holistic systems that vineyards inhabit. Also essential is a winemaking process where every possible step has been taken to minimize manipulation and maximize transparent expression. This means spontaneous fermentations with native yeast, little to no temperature controls, use of INOX and less reliance on new wood barrels, no additions of enzymes, proteins, color fixers or any other additives to the process, little to no fining and filtration, and of course less reliance on sulfur additions to bottling. Not every producer we work with practices all of the above simultaneously, but underneath this generally low intervention umbrella, we find our gems.
Portuguese wines in general are still relatively unknown in much of the world. In terms of organic, biodynamic, and natural wines, this is even more the case. We hope to play a part in changing these perceptions, and to create a space where Portuguese wine lovers and natural wine lovers can come together. We have curated it carefully, passionately, and lovingly – with enormous respect to the hands that craft these elixirs. We hope you will enjoy what we have to offer, and we hope that you too will share our passion for these real Portuguese wines. Saude!