Manuel Vieira – Tarimbado Winemaker

He is one of the most experienced Portuguese professionals to make wine. He has worked a life at Sogrape but since 2011 he has worked as an oenology consultant in different national producers.  

Your father was a great Portuguese winemaker, is that why you started to be interested in the wine
s? Of course i do! Although with some practical sense i always advised myself not to go to Oenology because it was a profession of these! And it wasn't far from the truth! (laughs) However, his advice fell to fertile ground, because when I went to the University I opted for the Technician, for the mechanical engineering course, where I spent two years embracing with the entrance lobby, which was too pompous and acabrunhante, and so I decided to move on to attend the Faculty of Sciences, with a much nicer atmosphere, a splendid palm tree mall, a time laboratory of the Marquis de Pombal, and a botanical garden right next door! I stayed there for two years and I didn't spend the second year of Mechanical Engineering until I was called to the army. It was already in Angola, where I was in service committee for 26 months, that I decided, on one of those wonderful nights of Africa well watered with whisky (only drink we had access to), to go through oenology, despite the contrary advice of my father. But I'm not sorry about my alcoholic decision, otherwise! (laughs).

In 1985 he entered Ferreira and works with a top oenology team. How did this opportunity come about and how was the ex
perience? It was José Maria Soares Franco who invited me to join Ferreira's team. I remember still very well today of his face looking at me, in deep meditation on the subject ( never had much way to disguise emotions!). The scene took place at the Center for Wine Studies of Régua, where I began my professional life, in a wine tasting session of Porto that Had been tasked with organizing. I accepted after some hesitation, because the time I spent in Régua was to all the exciting titles, but I could not refuse an opportunity like those to go to work with Fernando Nicolau de Almeida, a myth of Portuguese oenology, father of Barca Velha. That period was fundamental for my training as an winemaker, because the enormous experience and sensitivity of proof that Fernando Nicolau de Almeida possessed, combined with the solid ennological formation and quality requirement of José Maria Soares Franco shaped me as winemaker from that time.

Later he went to Carvalhais, how faced this challenge, fell in love with Dão? I fel
l in love and it wasn't little. Just came from the Douro with all its charisma, at first I was a little surprised the new reality that constituted Dão, both at the level of wine landscape and in relation to wines, very different from what I was used to. Dão wines appear in the very discreet and austere harvest, soon to assert themselves, in contrast to the exuberance that arises from the beginning in douro wines. But then I was gradually conquered by the elegance and complexity of Dão wines and nowadays I am an unconditional fan of the region.

Also went through the Green Wines, was it an equally rewarding challenge? I was r
esponsible simultaneously for the two regions of the Sogrape portfolio, Dão and Verdes until I left, when I reached the reform. They are two completely different realities, which challenged me in an exciting way, and i remember, with great pride, in relation to the work I developed in the Green region, the challenge that was to relaunch the Gazela brand, nowadays with a presence in the national and international market.

What are your election wines? I'
m an assumed 'whitephile'! I often say that 'when it's big' I'd like to make a wine like the great whites of Burgundy!  (laughs). Therefore, in Quinta de Carvalhais I paid immense attention to white wines, mostly from the Encruzado variety, which with its recognized and noble aging capacity allowed me to make white guard wines as I always aspired. And now in other producers I continue to pay equal attention to whitepeople. I consider the world of whites a reality with a lot of differentiation, more than that of the reds, and hence perhaps the explanation of my preference. But I'm also a great admirer of old sparkling wines. And of course the reds leave me in any way indifferent, but I am increasingly supportive of elegance and fineness in these. I can say that the so-called 'parkerization' of wines caused me some trauma stemming from the reds, when heavy and extracted, the clay of wood!

I imagine then that the wine you gave him the most fun in Carvalhais was a white man
! Yes, obviously, the Farm of Coals Encruzado! Because I think I was a pioneer in the Dame of winemaking called 'Burgundy', it was in the great burgundy wines that I was inspired. After having made several experiences with Dão varieties, it was Encruzado that worked best. I remembered now that it also gave me great enjoyment to make the sparkling rosé of Quinta dos Carvalhais, with Touriga Nacional and Encruzado.

And more recently, in the producers where you are, do you continue to do new experiences
? Of course, we can't stop. 

Tell me about the most challenging wines of each of the producers you currently work for! It's
always hard to choose, but let's see... in Caminhos Cruzados, for example, gave me great enjoyment to make the white Teixuga, a wine that is a return to the old Encruzado do Dão, with wooden stage. Kaputt, from Barão de Vilar, is a white man who contains several crops, that is, a blend of wines of several years, I think it also became very funny and different ... Finally the Quinta de Cottas Touriga Nacional Unoaked, quinta de cottas, which is a very own interpretation that I have of the Touriga variety and, as its name implies (unoaked), without wooden stage.  

Tell me a cartoon episode that happened to you in your professional life. Wh
en I joined Ferreira to work with Fernando Nicolau de Almeida and José Maria Soares Franco I was imposed an experimental period of 6 months, after which my performance would be evaluated to be admitted to the pictures or not. One of the works I did at the time was the measurement of the pH of wines, technique still something babbling at the time, and that, for Fernando Nicolau de Almeida, was pure alchemy! When Ferreira's administration at the end of the 6 months of internship asked him what his opinion was about my hiring replied: I think very well that they hire him because he has one of the best noses to measure the pH of wines!

What message would you like to convey to young winemakers who are starting their career n
ow? That they have no prejudices about the different types of wines! Taste and try to understand whites, reds and rosés, dry or sweet, acidic or less acidic, fortified or quiet, sparkling or late harvests Taste everything with your heart open to novelty, the difference, always true with yourself, do not let them pack in fashions. And have the utmost consideration for the consumer who will drink the wine they have produced!

After the departure of Sogrape in 2011, he gave himself up to other projects, want to talk a little b
it about them? I went through Quinta do Pinto, in the Lisbon region, where I went to find a series of varieties I had never worked before and found a very interesting challenge. Also in the Lisbon region I passed by Quinta da Romeira and, further north, in Trás-os-Montes, in quinta Vale de Passos. The project evolves and, in the meantime, i am currently on the Crosspaths in Dão; in Barão de Vilar and Quinta de Cottas, both in the Douro. 


He holds a degree in Agro-Industrial Engineering from the Instituto Superior de Agronomy. He began his career at Casa Ferreirinha, at the time under fernando Nicolau de Almeida, one of the greatest figures of Portuguese oenology. After 26 years in the oenology team of Sogrape (company that bought Ferreira), where he had under his command the wines of the Vinhos Verdes and Dão regions, he gave himself to other projects as an independent oenology consultant. He passed quinta do Pinto and Quinta da Romeira (both in the Lisbon region), and Quinta de Vale de Passos (in Trás-os-Montes). He is currently a consultant in the producers Caminhos Cruzados (Dão), Quinta de Cottas and Barão de Vilar (both in the Douro).