Interview met Vitor Claro, chef-kok die in de vaten roert.
Vitor Claro is chef-kok van opleiding en wie het genoegen had om in zijn restaurant nabij Lisboa te eten, weet dat hij kan koken. Via de keuken raakte hij geboeid door wijn. Vooral de finesse van Bourgogne-wijnen intrigeerde hem. Toen hij in 2010 een oude wijngaard in het noorden van de Alentejo ontdekte, was er dus niet veel nodig om hem een nieuwe uitdaging te laten aangaan.
We zijn trots zijn wijnen te kunnen toevoegen aan onze collectie en laten u graag met hem kennis maken via onderstaand interview.
The Portugal Collection Partner Interview
Name: Vitor H. A. Claro and Rita I. G. Ferreira
Portugal Collection partner since: 2017
First wine made in: 2010
Current production (annual average): 8500 bottles
Surface of production: 1,5 + 0,5 + 1,5 plus some bought grapes from thirds
Main grape varieties planted: only old vines, field blended up to twenty varieties.
Average Altitude of the vineyards: 650m Alentejo and 700m Castelo Rodrigo
Main soil types: schist in Alentejo and sandy schist in Castelo Rodrigo
What was your first experience with wine?
In 2005 I was lucky enough to be recruited as head chef in a restaurant run by Dirk Niepoort. There and then I had the chance to try my very first fine wines. Maybe Niepoort colheita 1898 was the most impressive. Then Chateau Margaux 1986 at Dirks home. he asked me: do you like it? I replied I didn't know. I had never tasted anything like it.A few days later, with a group of people, I came to taste Lafarge Clos des Chenes 1986. And that was indeed the greatest moment ever.
What triggered you to start making your own wine? What was the first wine you made and why (why that wine and why did you make it):
From tasting stratospheric and amazing wines I started to make my own idea of what finesse was. That changed all my ideas about cooking. A revolution happened. In 2008 and 2009 I was chef at a restaurant in Alentejo and participated in two harvests. Although great wines were/are made there, none of them were my style, not the style I would want to make. The year after I left, in 2010, I defied the winemaker to do a wine together with me and that got me started. A few weeks before the harvest he quit - honestly fearing some trouble with the bosses - and I called Dirk: do you think I need a winemaker? It was the best that happened to you, the fact that he quit - he replied. I bought two tones of grapes (white and red, each) and vinified two barrels of each. Rita Ferreira joined me in life in 2014 and immediately in the wine business too, as a very valuable partner. Knowing Portugal better and with the will to grow we are now present in four regions:
- Alentejo, Portalegre
- Beira, Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo
- Terras do Sado, with an upcoming Macerated Moscatel of Setubal, dry.
Would you do it the same today? If not, what would you do different today?
Indeed, seven years later anyone know best and something more. But back in those days, yes, I would have done all the same again.
There is always room for improvement. Where do you think you can still improve?
We now are present in four regions. We can always improve as we are looking forward to building our own cellar. We do a very honest garage wine. In a proper garage. A real garage. We are looking forward growing 3x our production. Doing it always better and better. That's the improvement we aim for.
What makes the region you work in special for you?
Knowing my vineyard has been around for more than ninety years now, makes me believe that something good has to be there. Tasting some decades old wines from the region, understanding the profile, makes us feel we are in a good direction.
We think knowing the locals, is an important key. Knowing how old farmers do their jobs, how they prune, how they crop the herbs, how they harvest and when, how they vinify... All that wisdom is breathable around Portalegre.
What do you like drinking your wines with the most?
White with: soft poached fish, raw, light seasoned food.
Red with: Domino with light seasoned food, grilled Iberian pork, lamb chops, mushrooms. Foxtrot and Colmeal go really well with charcuterie.
Which wine are you most proud of in: 2016's Alentejo. We did a huge leap. From 2010 to 2015 we always had rented spaces in large cellars. This last year we did everything by ourselves in our own garage.
Which wines in your private cellar you cherish the most?
A very old dry Niepoort Port from the 20's of last century.
Which bottle would you take to a deserted island?
probably some champagne. Cristal 89 might have been one of the best I've tasted.
If you could be a winemaker in another part of the world, where would it be? Why?
Well I can only say cote de nuits. For the obvious reason of FINESSE!
If you would have to recommend our clients:
Restaurant not to be missed in your region: Tombalobos, Portalegre
Restaurant not to be missed elsewhere in Portugal:
sorry, I can't choose only one:
Algarve - Noélia, Cabanas Tavira
Alentejo - Tasquinha do Oliveira, Évora
Lisbon - Ramiro for shellfish and Solar dos Nunes for pot stew food.
Porto - Aleixo for Octupus fritters and rice and Gaveto for seafood
Favorite beach: Cabanas de Tavira - Algarve
Favorite (wine) bar in Portugal:
ODE wine house, in Oporto.
À Margem, Belem, Lisbon
Terroir, Carvoeiro, Algarve
Historic site/natural beauty in Portugal: Monsaraz