OUR WINE HISTORY
Told by those who read our souls:
Of Madeira Wine, one of the most common knowledge is that it was served in the independence of the United States, which would no longer be a small thing. Some references also include it as a literary note in works such as "Henry IV" by Shakespeare and some refer to it as the "wine of eternity" due to its extended consumption period.
And, as a rule, this is “the” Madeira wine that we hear about and that comes from the history books.
The story we bring here today is another. It has little more than a couple of years and only shares with its ancestor the fact that it is about a wine that comes by accident. We speak of Terra Bona, a white wine from Madeira, awarded bronze medals in two of the most prestigious wine competitions, the IWC and Decanter in London, and with a score of 90 points by renowned American critic Robert Parker.
All this in a wine that was not in the plans of Marco Noronha Jardim and Maria João Velosa when they bought Quinta do Cardo, in the parish of Boaventura, in Madeira. By the way, wine - or to be more exact, the vineyard that existed on the farmland, began to be a problem.
In the direct report: “This project comes from having found this property and falling in love with it. Or rather, I fell in love and the first thing I did was call Maria João saying "I saw some fantastic land and you have to come here." There is a problem, it has a vineyard”, says Marco Noronha Jardim.
Five years later, the “problem” became a prized, praised wine that changed the course of the property itself purchased only for tourism purposes and now adapted to serve a vineyard and a wine-based business as well. The “reform project” of the two bankers has thus become a wine adventure that is just beginning.
Back to the beginning.
Once upon a time there was a land, located in the heart of the Laurissilva Forest, a World Heritage Site, which had a 22-year-old abandoned vineyard planted there for which the new owners were unsure what to do. Conversation by conversation, and bearing in mind that they wanted to make a privileged place for agri-tourism, they decided to ask for help and support to recover it. And in 2016 they decided to grab the vineyard and produce a wine: “our idea was to produce some wine bottles to sell in the tourism project”.
They hired professional help, recovered the vineyard and introduced a set of “environmentally minded and environmentally friendly activities". What does that mean? Basically "we do not throw herbicides" and "the land is ¾ of the year in organic and between April and August there is a set of treatments with phytosanitary products". As a result, they are “the first producer with licensed vineyards in integrated production”.
But let's not lose sight of the wine. In 2017, Marco and Maria João had their first wine. Technically a product of the Arnsburger variety, originated from the crossing of Riesling varieties. For laymen, the German Arnsburger grape variety is very similar to the so-called French Alsace Rieslings grape varieties from which, very aromatic wines are produced - and already well-known around the world.
“We made a wine from what we had. We introduced 10% of Verdelho grape from the vineyards of Maria João aunt,” says Marco, “our idea was that the wine was drinkable, honestly”.
From drinkable, the white wine of the abandoned vineyard came to be celebrated among friends and people to whom they were tasting. But in doubt - would it be kind? - Marco and Maria João decided to “evaluate at the highest level” what “everyone said was wonderful”. And that's when the London wine contests and Robert Parker's evaluation come up. It was proof that the wine was indeed good, and also that “in Madeira you can make good white wines”.
From then on, the project changed. The tourist units, which will start construction between November this year and January 2020, have been reduced from six to five to preserve the existing vineyards to the full and the owners of Quinta do Cardo decided to create a micro winery for the production of three new distinct wines. 1500 bottles no more. “Small productions, small lots of other wines with partnerships with other producers in the region,” they say.
In these three years, the two bankers looking for an alternative life project also learned a lot about the vineyard and wine. “We believe it is possible to make excellent wines in Madeira and for that we need to have total control of grape production,” they say. This year, the two selected grape berries from berry to berry, removed all the damaged berries from all the bunches. The next day the harvest began at 5 am to prevent grape ripening after picking and before entering the cellar. So, they say, "every grape that goes into the winery is a good grape and it has a brutal impact on the final product."
The tourism project has also changed - it will be tourism but linked to the vineyard, named accordingly Terra Bona Nature & Vineyards. But everything will remain small, almost handmade. “We are committed to having one third of the production for the Lisbon and Oporto markets, one third for the regional market and one third for us.”
Thus was born the 'Terra Bona' Family Harvest, an unlikely story of a white wine from Madeira.
A small vine, a handpicked grape. “This is how it is and will not change,” say the owners.
Rute Sousa Vasco, e
Rodrigo Moreira Rato
In "Sapo24" 10.09.2019
English version translated by Terra Bona Wine Family
"Thank you very much to both.
Thus began our story… "
Maria João, Marco e filhos
Terra Bona Wine Family