What am I: Monte refers to a typical Portuguese farm with a house on top of a small hill and its surrounding lands. The name Casteleja was given to the estate by an archaeologist who discovered the ruins of a small castle dating back to the Roman period. Archaeologists believe that the ancestral city of Lagos, called Lacobriga, was born near this valley, with the sea at that time coming much further inland, and very close to the property.
Guillaume Leroux, the owner of the estate and winemaker, was born in France to mixed French-Portuguese heritage. His grandfather on his mother’s side bought this farm in 1952, and eventually Guillaume inherited the land, long abandoned, from his Portuguese grandfather. He began to revitalize the property with the intention of making his own organic wines. The first grapes were planted in 2000, and in 2004 Monte da Casteleja produced its first wine.
Monte Casteleja seeks to recreate the concept of vin du producteur, using a combination of new technologies and ancestral artistry, such as foot treading, maceration with stems, and aging in wood vats. Since its inception in 1998, they have harvested the old-fashioned way using manual labor to select and cut the grapes, and transport the 15kg boxes. This hand harvest is followed at the end of the day by foot treading of the best grapes.
The Monte Casteleja Tinto is the estate’s top red wine and an expression of its best fruit, and its most sophisticated character. The majority of the wine is Bastardo, a grape also known as Trousseau in France, and its presence at Casteleja is unique, and a varietal that sets Casteleja apart from any of its contemporaries, especially in Algarve.
After foot-treading, the wine spontaneously ferments over 15 days and is then aged for 6 months in a mixture of French and Portuguese oak casks, mostly second use. The wine is not fined, and filtration is carried out simply by decanting.
This Bastardo is an intensely fruity wine, but not jammy. This vineyard, being only 3km from the ocean, ensures that jammy flavors are avoided and freshness is maintained. The fruit flavors are of wild berries and black cherry, with undercurrents of sandalwood, exotic spices, and hints of Mediterranean herbs, mint, and eucalyptus. A top-shelf red from Portugal’s Algarve region – ironically one of the least spoken about Portuguese wine regions, yet also one of its oldest. This is a real treasure, and we are proud to represent the delicious wines of Sr. Guillaume.
Region, Sub-region and/or DOC: Algarve
Grape Varieties: Bastardo
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