Simplesmente Vinho: Celebrating natural wine in Portugal
Last year, Catavino attended the premiere of Simplesmente Vinho and had a fantastic time. We were surprised by the off-the-cuff tasting that resulted in a group of “wine geeks” joining together in a cave, literally, on the Cais de Ribeira for a small producer tasting. Thankfully, it was a huge success and has returned for round two! As for us, we’ve decided to bring in a natural wine aficionado, Simon Woolf of The MorningClaret, Tim Atkin and Decanter, who has passionately taken on the challenge to dive into the lesser known side of Portuguese wines.
In preparation, we’ve put together a short interview with cofounder, João Roseira. Enjoy and if you are near Porto please come on down! It promises to be a great time.
What is Simplesmente Vinho?
Simplesmente = Simply, Vinho = Wine
Simplesmente Vinho 2014 is an off-salon, a niche event (alternative and independent) which gathers a group of growers together at the Ribeira do Porto simply…as a result of wine. This particular wine must respect the land and terroir, the vines and grapes, the people and traditions. Wine that simply … wants to be wine, drunk, enjoyed and shared. They all share, regardless of the size or reputation of each one, a taste for different wines with a healthy dose of madness and poetry.
Who is behind this event?
The two founders consist of me, João Roseira of Quinta do Infantado and Bago de Touriga, and Mateus Nicolau de Almeida of Muxagat and Quinta do Monte Xisto. We had just come from Haut les Vins, an off salon that travels through France, UK, Germany and Sweden, when we looked at each and said: why don’t we do this in Porto? That’s how it all started.
What was your motivation in creating it?
Porto, and Portugal for that matter, had no off-salon. That had to be changed, so Simplesmente Vinho came to life. The first edition, February 2013, was put together in about a month. It was totally rustic and ad-hoc, but great fun.
What is the criteria for wineries to participate?
There is no rigid criteria. Mateus and I started by calling up friends whose wines we liked. If you can call this a criteria, then it would be wines that respect the grapes, terroir and vintage.
What do you hope wineries will gain from this event? What is their incentive to be there?
Not every grower at Simplesmente Vinho 2014 will have the same goals. As an example, between Quinta do Mouro and Quinta da Palmirinha there is a world of distance in recognition. Mouro will want to be linked to traditional innovation whilst Palmirinha will want to get their name known. As Filipa Pato puts it, Simplesmente Vinho is for people that like wine without makeup. Maybe the bottom line is, to connect real wine with real people.
How do you see the “natural” wine world in Portugal today? How is it changing?
There is virtually no natural wine in Portugal, so far. We love good natural wine, even if we give credit to every grower that puts effort into making it. But effort is not enough, the wine has to give you pleasure. In Portugal, organic viticulture is growing but in some cases organic does not come into the winery. Organic grapes are fermented like conventional ones. There’s a long way to go. Hence, Simplesmente Vinho is one of the ways to help change some Portuguese wines for better.
What feedback have you received from this event so far?
The first edition was a lot of improvisation but the feedback was great. The growers were happy and attendants were too; hence, we had a lot of incentive to keep it rolling. We are adding petiscos (tapas) and music to the 2014 edition. We hope that it will be even more fun than last year.
How does a participant attend? Costs? Times? Location?
We tried to keep it really… simple. You just have to show up at Largo do Terreiro (Ribeira do Porto), buy a glass for 4 “simplesmentes” and enjoy. Friday the 28th of February from 17:00-22:00 and Saturday, the 1st of March from 16:00-22:00. We hope to see everyone there!
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Since 2005, Catavino has been exploring the Iberian Peninsula looking for the very best food and wine experiences.