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Rui Madeira: A leading winemaker in the Douro Valley and Northern Portugal
14 Jan 2021

Rui Madeira: A leading winemaker in the Douro Valley and Northern Portugal

 

Here’s a story about one of our great friends and winemakers, Rui Roboredo Madeira. His wines have formed an integral part of our portfolio for over 20 years.

This friendship and partnership began in the late 90’s, as Raymond explored the Douro for new producers of Douro wines to enhance the portfolio.

Rui’s roots are in the Douro Superior. He obtained his oenology degree from Vila Real University and toured the world as a jobbing winery hand before returning to the Douro. His family estate comprises vineyards and a substantial olive grove. Young winemaker Rui was instrumental in converting to organic agriculture, improving processes, and focusing on producing high quality estate wines (Quinta do Coa) and sublime CARM extra virgin olive oil.

At the same time, he set up his own winemaking and bottling company (Vinhos Douro Superior) so he could explore different terroirs, creating the hugely successful Quinta da Fafide and Castelo d’Alba brands. Raymond Reynolds brought these wines to the UK as some of the earliest examples of high-quality Douro red wines in UK shops.  

As a winemaker, Rui is renowned for his eye for detail. This includes in the vineyards, but more-so in the winery. His talent and passion in creating high-quality wines, pushing the boundaries, and working with a sustainable philosophy, makes him one of the most important winemakers in Northern Portugal today. Rui continues to push the limits of what was previously thought to be possible for Douro table wines. 

In 2007, Rui undertook a further challenge. He bought Quinta da Pedra Escrita, which at the time was dilapidated and unused for ‘serious’ viticulture and winemaking. Here Rui wanted to explore the potential of the native Douro varieties he had come to love, though set at a higher altitude (550m+) and on a mixture of transitional soils, where Schist becomes granite on the very Southern border of the Douro basin. He planted new vineyards in 2008, to go alongside the existing old vines, to take the property up to a still small 17 Ha. Here he has the likes of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Jaen, Sousão, Verdelho, Rabigato, Alvarinho, and Viognier. 

In 2011 Rui decided to depart from the family business to continue his exploration, this time outside the Douro region. The village of Vermiosa sits on Portugal’s eastern border with Spain and on a high-altitude granitic plateau (800m+). Here, converting an old run-down winery where he had done his very first harvest in 1987, Rui started BEYRA.

The name comes from a play on the name of the region he has come to love almost as much as the Douro, the Beira Interior. He extended the plantings around the winery in 2012, adding 10 Ha of vines on to the high quartz soils, which are key for these wines’ mineral core. 

Here, Rui works exclusively with indigenous varieties and local clones, Tinta Roriz, Jaen, Touriga Nacional, Siria, and Fonte Cal, well adapted to this environment of extremes. They must be able to flourish in the summer heat, the cold winters, and the extraordinary diurnal range that is so important for achieving high-acidity, fresh wines at harvest time. He treats them to a variety of winemaking tenderness, knowing when to leave the wines to express their own character and when they will benefit from a little extra... He uses only stainless steel for some, concrete vats for others, and his recent move to using only quality French and Portuguese oak barrels, of varying sizes, shows his constant drive for perfection.

Rui’s body of work makes him a driving force behind the progress seen in the Beira Interior and the Douro Superior too. We are proud to be part of his journey, bringing his amazing wines to the UK.

Find out more about Rui's wines here.

http://ruimadeira.pt/

 

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