An Interview with Antonio from António Saramago Wines
I did say in my blog from Setúbal on May 1st that I would be sending more detail. Well, it’s taken a bit of time, mainly because I have had to edit down a very lengthy interview with Antonio Saramago, in my opinion, the best producer on show at the show, which you can see below. That’s not to say that there weren’t any others who were good and I will list below, those producers whose wines I thought should be on your list for seeking out, with their website addresses.
But back to Saramago. Antonio Saramago, Senior, was the number two winemaker for 43 years for José Maria Fonseca, the most famous and largest producer in the area. In 2002 he left Fonseca and with the aid of his son, also Antonio, set up his own winemaking business drawing on his long-time experience in the wine industry. They do not have any vineyards of their own, nor do they have a winery of their own but use the facilities of their neighbours at the Quinta Catralvos to make their wine.
What makes them stand out, apart from the quality of their wines, is the fact that they only make wines with indigenous grapes, eschewing any flirtation with “international” grapes that many of their neighbours are embracing. Antonio feels that some of them are gambling to some extent in the desire to produce varietal wines that they think will “sell”. But competition is fierce and the selling prices are extraordinarily low and some of the Cabernets, Chardonnays, Syrahs, etc. certainly don’t stack up to the quality found elsewhere in the world. This doesn’t mean to say that there are none that can compete on the world stage, but it’s not going to be easy for them.
So this leaves the Saramagos pitching for a “niche” situation in which they have full confidence in their indigenous grape varieties, particularly Castelão. Castelão is a grape that is widely grown in Portugal, but especially in the Setúbal region. It is a grape with some degree of acidity and could probably be described as a cross between Barbera and Malbec. Of course, Antonio now puts all of his 50 years of oenological experience in producing his wines and together with Antonio Junior’s 20 years experience, they are certainly a cut above a cut above.
Casa Saramago – http://asvinhos.com
Listen to Antonio’s philosophy on making wine below.
Other wineries of note at the show were: