Márcio Lopes is one of the most adventurous winemakers of the new Vinho Verde generation. He sponsors old vines and unloved varieties, tries them out, and manages to uncover their potential to create special wines with character.
The difficulty in finding producers willing to sell him grapes traced his path. He was left with those vines that nobody wanted, which were the “ramadas” and the “enforcados” (both outdated training systems), and in the Douro with old vines that mix both red and white varieties.
The making of the winemaker
Márcio’s dream was to make Port Wine. Born in Porto, without any foot in the world of wine nor land of his own, he acquired a taste for agriculture via his grandparents. Later on, the objective of going to the Douro came true, but in a very different way from what he imagined.
Márcio took a degree in agronomic engineering and, during the course, in 2005, he had the chance to make his first harvest in Melgaço where he worked with Anselmo Mendes, one of the great Portuguese winemakers.
In 2010 he began to produce his own wines, starting with “Pequenos Rebentos” (Small Shoots) in the Vinhos Verdes region and “Proibido” (Forbidden) in Douro Superior. The first may be described as an old-fashioned Alvarinho, with some oxidative character, while the other is a red wine from Foz Côa that owes its name to a smuggler.
Born in Porto in 1983, he graduated in Agricultural Engineering in 2006. Between 2005 and 2008, he worked with Anselmo Mendes in the Vinho Verde region. Later on, he headed to Australia, making two harvests there. In 2010 he established himself with the “Pequenos Rebentos” project.
Under the “Pequenos Rebentos” umbrella, Márcio Lopes’ Vinhos Verdes are divided into the following labels: “À Moda Antiga”, “Selvagem”, “Ancestral”, and “Atlântico”.
Márcio likes to ferment Loureiro and Alvarinho grapes in a natural way. “Selvagem”, for instance, is made from Azal vines planted in the 1930s in Amarante. He managed to polish this rough diamond by pruning leaves and bunches in order to improve maturation and concentration. The wine fermented with the skins and aged in amphorae and old French oak barrels.
“We can show that it is a versatile region, where you can make several different styles, far from light-bodied wines, with the addition of CO2.”Márcio Lopes, Revista de Vinhos
Márcio Lopes’ wines in the Douro Valley
At Quinta do Pombal in Douro Superior, acquired in 2015, the “Proibido Vinha Velha de Pombal” was born — the first harvest was launched in 2017. Recently, a Clarete and a Vintage Port 2017 joined the range.
In addition to “Proibido”, there is also the “Permitido” range composed only of white wines. The first vintage was made in 2013 with grapes from a Rabigato vineyard. In the Douro, Márcio also produces the “Anel” wines.
Recognition at home and abroad
In 2019, he was distinguished as “Revelação Enólogo do Ano” by Revista de Vinhos and “Singularidade” by Grandes Escolhas magazine.
In 2020, the wine critics at the “Wine Advocate” magazine placed the Proibido Grande Reserva 2017 in the “TOP 100 Wine Discoveries” 2020, the best 100 wine discoveries among the largest wine regions in the world.
Márcio’s new projects
In addition to Vinhos Verdes and Douro, Márcio also has a small project in the Ribeira Sacra region in Spain. Last year, he started a new endeavor in the Dão, in partnership with Herdade do Rocim and another one in the Azores.
Special thanks to Simão for the amazing cover illustration.
Sources: A Wine Detective Investiga o Vinho Verde Premium, Sarah Ahmed, Revista de Vinhos; Márcio Lopes, o criador de vinhos que dá nova vida a uvas esquecidas, Ana Costa, Evasões magazine, March 2021; Márcio Lopes, Outwine online store.