Updated: Jul 27, 2021
Cheleiros just as Bucelas wine region is also in danger of being forgotten. Locals left their vineyards and fields for big city life, as, perhaps, the government doesn't encourage its' citizens enough to be engaged in agriculture. But revitalization came from an unexpected source and now Jampal - an indigenous thought to be extinct and grown only here grape variety is being promoted all over the world.
MANZWINE and Cheleiros
just a century ago these hills were covered with vineyards, 43 wineries to be exact
The story of this estate made my purchasing decision before I even tasted their wine. In short:
- Andre Manz a football player from Brazil comes to play in Lisbon.
- Gets the worst possible injury for a goalkeeper - breaks his hand, just after 1 year playing in Lisbon.
- Instead of going back home, he now becomes a fitness entrepreneur. Up til now, Andre owns the Portuguese bodypump franchise, and this fitness income is still what sources his wine ventures.
- He moves to Cheleiros village with his family, seeking healthier and calmer surroundings than central Lisbon. Among ancient a Roman bridge and Neolithic settlements, he discovers that just a century ago these hills were covered with vineyards. 43 wineries to be exact, with zero at the moment when Manz moved.
In the beginning, Andre was making wine 'just for fun' - for himself, his family and friends. But being curious by nature (up to this point it's obvious he was), he kept asking locals what was the grape variety planted on the old plot he bought. Experts couldn't answer, but an old lady from the village said it was Jampal, a variety her father used to make wine.
this variety didn't grow anywhere else in the world, it was indigenous to Cheleiros and only existed here
Now the Portuguese Institute of Wine became helpful again - apparently, this variety didn't grow anywhere else in the world, it was indigenous to Cheleiros and only existed here. Andre, as you see, bought an antique plot. He didn't start from scratch but with 20 years old Jampal vines. It was obvious that this vine was destined to be the signature variety of the winery.
So their first professional winemaking facilities found their place in an old school building. When I came, it was the first year that they moved to bigger premises, increasing their production x10 times. The old school building is now used for ageing in oak barrels.
Once you visit MANZ WINES you'll be received at another ancient building - now MANZ's museum of wine and tasting room. The most precious thing here is the old wine press - it used to exist in more or less every house of the village, but not anymore.
The extinction of Portuguese winemaking in these small villages can be cured if they welcome foreigners, wine enthusiasts and simply tourists.
Andre Manz believes in enotourism, and I totally agree with him. The extinction of Portuguese winemaking in these small villages can be cured if they welcome foreigners, wine enthusiasts and simply tourists. Most of the local wineries don't understand the importance of people spreading the word about their wines in social media, buying a bottle and taking it thousands of kilometres away from where it's grown. Unfortunately, those wineries expect buses with hundreds of people for it to be worth opening their wine cellar doors. But buses don't come, and for solo travellers and small groups, they keep staying inaccessible.
This year production increased x10 times
But enough with this depressive tone, let's see what we tasted in Cheleiros!
Wines we tasted at MANZWINE Cheleiros
Jampal, Dona Fatima - their only white wine, but what a white! So when Andre realized he has a plot of this jewel he started increasing the Jampal vineyard with grafting (cuttings) from old vines.
The wine is named after Andre's mother-in-law. The nose is full of mineral aromas, flowers, citrus and stone fruits remind you that it's Portugal, and after all quite south. But thanks to the Atlantic ocean fruits are complemented with acidity and the minerals from the soils. You can age this wine and it gets a lot of nutty creamy flavours. Leave your bottle for 10 years and see the difference!
MANZ Rose - made from 100% Castelão grapes. Originally the winery was known for producing medium pink rose wines, but now they switched to a more pale version, as consumers prefer the Provencal style.
In your glass you'll encounter strawberries and raspberries, but at the same time the wine is dry, refreshing with its' mineral acidity.
MANZ Pomar do Espirito Santo - red wine made of Touriga Nacional, Aragones and Castelao. It has a deep ruby colour as the must goes through pre-fermentation maceration. After fermentation, it matures in 70% stainless steel vats and 30% French & American oak.
Cherry and blackcurrant with pepper notes, pleasant complexity and fresh acidity coming from their clay-limestone soils. The wine has a great ageing potential, especially if you go for their Reserva wine.
What else won my heart here? The label with an owl :)
I loved both the history (short but intense and inspiring) and the wines of MANZ.
Looking for other obscure wine regions to discover around Lisbon? Head to crisp whites of Bucelas wine region, powerful red wines from Alentejo and finish with dessert Moscatel wines from Setubal! Drop me a note if you need more insights!