The Faith in Wine

Since the early days, wine and religion have been hand in hand, and some of these stories are worth being told.

This is the case with these wines, Milagres and Eminencia. Both Portuguese from the region of the Vinho Verde in the north of the country.

It is impossible to tell you about these wines without saying a few words about the person behind the project, Mr Carlos Dias. A visionary with the sensibility to create the best and most sophisticated of wines, never before seen in Portugal.

From the design of the labels and the fantastically shaped bottles. To the outstanding quality of wines worth being levelled with the best in the world. I am not exaggerating; the proof is that international awards are continually recognised in wine contests.

The secret is to use the native grapes like the Alvarinho and Loureiro and take them to another level, purity, freshness, minerality and elegance, things that you expect from a white wine produced in a cold and humid region.

So, what does this have to do with religion? You might ask.

Let’s start with the location; it’s the region of Minho, the north Atlantic coast of Portugal, Braga. The city of Archbishops, as we call it, has narrow granite streets; everywhere you turn, there is a church, a chapel, and cathedrals. Religion has always had a significant role in this place. You feel it; it’s in the air. Easter and all the religious dates have a big celebration here, medieval traditions with processions and people dressed in religious vests walking down the streets, impressive even for those who are not believers. And this location has many palaces. The palace of Paço da Palmeira, set on the margins of a river, is surrounded by centenary trees, fruit orchards and vines. Such a fantastic place is mentioned in the poems of one of the greatest poets of all time in Portugal, Camilo Castelo Branco.

Built-in 1741 as the residence for Prince D.José Carlos de Bragança, this property was inspired by Tuscany architecture with beautiful pink walls, granite, noble woods and architectural details challenging to express all its beauty in simple words made by a Portuguese in a foreign language. This was not only the Prince’s residence palace but also the temporary home was given to the Pope when visiting Portugal. A chapel is a relevant part of the complex. Inside the chapel, you have the most exemplary representation of religious episodes from the catholic history painted in blue and white tiles so typical of Portugal.

This is the scenario where the excellent grape Loureiro is produced; beautiful vineyards face the river, allowing all the freshness and humidity needed. A wine with a balanced body, citrus, lime and bay leaves aromas, a wine inspired by all the history of the place and named with the tribute to this religious heritage, Eminence (Eminency).

In Monção and Melgaço, areas of excellence for the excellent Alvarinho grape are not far from this place. We find a property from the same producer, Quinta dos Milagres (The Miracle Estate). This place has a remarkable history; built four centuries ago, this property was the home of a very wealthy family. According to the stories about this place, one day, this family made a sumptuous dinner for the most important guests and friends. During this dinner, one of the owners’ sons pulled the tablecloth from the dining table and, in turn, broke all the glass and China. In a moment of fury, in front of all the guests, the mother cursed him for the rest of his life, and from that day on, the child contracted a disease and became paralysed. After realising what she had done, the lady was very regretful for what she had said. She prayed to the Mother of God to give her child a miracle and return him to walk again. If this could be granted, she promised to build, in recognition, the most beautiful and decadent church to honour the miracle, and this is how the place received the name, the Miracle Quinta.

This is an excellent example of how faith can be related to wines, even if you don’t believe it to be true. From my perspective, the wine is incredible, again with a fantastic design on the label and bottle. It’s worth keeping; I’d say it’s probably one of the most spectacular Alvarinho wines I’ve ever tasted, complex aroma of fresh pineapple, citric and evolution on the palate with deepness and balance on an ever-lasting finish.

What is a wine without a nice story? The passion, vision and resilience of a person who brings this “poetry” to our tables to enjoy in moments of friendship, pleasure or even…faith!