GD News

Rita Marques, the Portuguese hipster winemaker

We remain on the Iberian Peninsula but move west to Portugal and to the region of Douro, a neighbour to Ribera del Duero in Spain. Although mostly synonymous with fortified port wines, the country has seen a dramatic improvement in their still wines thanks to significant technological upgrades during the 1990s.

We shine the spotlight today on the hipster winemaker (using the words from Christian Eedes in his very interesting article this week in Winemag) Rita Marques from Conceito.

Some of you reading this will already be familiar with her name. Indeed, Rita not only has spent some time with Bruce Jack, but has also produced a couple of Bordeaux blends with Marc Kent from Boekenhoutskloof. Initially trained as a mechanical engineer, she quickly realised that it was not her path to follow. She decided to shift focus back to her roots and the family vineyards that they had acquired in the 1940s. Full of creative energy, Rita was not one to rest on her laurels. She first started working with one of the leading winemakers in Portugal, Dirk Niepoort, she also completed her studies in oenology at the university of Bordeaux with the late Denis Dubourdieu, one of the most reknownd French oenologists. She spent some time in New Zealand in Marlborough, crafting a Sauvignon Blanc at Churton Wines and also did a stint in California. She has certainly brought back a little bit of the new world to the Douro. Today, Rita is undoubtedly ‘The Soul of Conceito’ and with the support of a strong team, starting with her mother, is producing a very impressive range of wines.

Our wine today is Rita’s “Contraste” White 2016 (we encourage you to explore more of her range). We recommend that you try this wine with sushi or shellfish, a range of appetizers and snacks, lean fish and cured meat.

“The 2016 Contraste Branco is a field blend fermented in stainless steel tanks (70%) and new French oak barrels (30%). It comes in at 13% alcohol. This handles its modest wood treatment (70% stainless steel, the rest used wood) perfectly. It is barely noticeable. It has good volume for the level and the good freshness I anticipate here, too. Its round and relatively concentrated and full feel is impressive at its level this year, but it is always elegant, too. There is good acidity supporting everything. Then, it finishes with some tension and some traces of herbs. This should age well for the level in good years like this and the 2015. I do like to be conservative in such things, so we’ll take that a bit slowly for the moment, while noting that they may surprise us.” – Mark Squires, The Wine Advocate