The regional magazine ECO123 came to Monte da Casteleja to learn how to produce organic wine:
On the outskirts of Lagos, in Sargaçal, Guillaume Leroux, aged 49, Luso-French – or Franco-Algarve -, has been producing Algarve’s first organic wine since 2012. ECO123 set off to meet him on Monte da Casteleja, the 6.5 hectare estate he inherited from his mother’s side of the family, to find out just what is and how you produce organic wine.
When did you begin this project and with how many hectares of vines?
In 1998. We have 3.5 hectares of vines. My objective was to run a small-scale vineyard on my own scale, farmed by the family and without major labour costs. A small area but producing a top range product and also including an agro-tourism component.
What castes did you choose for your grapes? Indigenous or imported varieties?
I decided to make a local wine with the castes that we traditionally have in the region and that I already know. At that time, there were not many good examples of quality wines from the Algarve. There was plenty of Periquita with which I did not greatly identify. I chose Bastardo for the reds, an old caste from the Douro and the Dão regions and that makes ‘Bastardinho’ in Sagres, a famous liquor. Perrum, the base grape for the wines from Cartuxa, and Arinto were chosen for the whites. As I wanted to make blended wines, I ended up also planting Alfrocheiro to go along with Bastardo as they make a good match.
Thank you once again to José and Uwe for the excellent article on Monte da Casteleja and our organic wines, ECO123 September 2014 edition.
On the rear label of this Algarve rosé, the producer rounds off his description of the wine with “summer in a glass”. I wouldn’t disagree, but this would apply to pretty much any decent bottle of wellchilled rosé. What makes this rosé different is not only the grape variety (Bastardo), but also the fact it is produced organically right here in the Algarve near Lagos. The Bastardo grape may be better known as a varietal in the Bairrada region – and as a blending grape in the Douro – but it has long been grown here in the Algarve and is one of the traditional regional varieties that winemaker Guillaume Leroux set out to reinvent when he started his winery in 2000.
Today, Monte da Casteleja is known for producing wines in a style all of its own, influenced by the Bordeaux region – where Guillaume was raised – but true to the essence of the Algarve.
This 2013 rosé is quite different from the previous rosés from this producer, which were made from a blend of the local Alfrocheiro grape with Bastardo. The pale salmon pink colour with brown hues hides an unusual but quite seductive wine, better matched to food pairing than to summer quaffing. On the nose, there are subtle notes of red berries, but it is the surprisingly rich palate with a long finish that make this wine stand out from any Algarve rosé I have tried. Outstanding value at €5 to €6 in supermarkets.
Monte da Casteleja Maria Selection Red 2007 has been selected by the english wine writer Sarah Ahmed elected by the Association of Portuguese Wine Importers APWI to nominate the best 50 Portuguese wines of 2009.
Sarah Ahmed, responsible for the website Wine The Wine Detective ade more than 5 travels and hundreds of wine tastings all over Portugal during 2009, and awarded our wine, the only one from the Algarve region for her 50 Great Portugueses Wines.
This selection occur every year, made by english journalists that best know and write about Portuguese wines. This list highlights the best wines produced in Portugal.
“An attractive floral nose and palate with wild, bright cherry and pomegranate and subtle spice underscored by pithy tannins. Put me in mind of Conceito’s Bastardo from the Douro with its combination of intensity and delicacy.”
The Wine Detective, February 2010
Frenchman with a rib from Algarve
Guillaume Leroux, born in Paris, the son of a Portuguese mother and French father Lakes of Brittany, is one of them. Did training in viticulture and oenology in Montpellier and a graduate degree in biotechnology in Porto, in partnership with an Australian university. There he met some Portuguese reference winemakers and went to the Douro, where he spent the Taylor’s, the Quinta do Côtto and the Quinta do Tedo, and there was five years, gaining experience and knowledge and contacting with the world of deep wine.
“The Douro was a practical school, a fundamental experience to know and understand the world of wine and especially viticulture. Ali learned to know the land and all its components, which gave me experience to choose the best solutions in the Algarve, “said the NS ‘.
The maternal grandfather, born in Sagres, once bought a farm near Lagos which had just surround vineyards. In 1998, Guillaume began to devise their own project, after his great dream. Walked to examine traditional Portuguese grape varieties when discovered Bastardinho Sagres, almost extinct. Studied soils, made comparisons, researched and started to plant Bastard and Alfrocheiro in red, Arinto and Perrum whites. Planted, modernized, innovated – but without using irrigation, one of his stubbornness, always thinking of making wines of upper middle range.
“I want to continue to make simple, natural wines, from Thursday, but top quality. That is my goal. And while I can, I will not use irrigation in my vineyards, is a stubbornness of mine! ”
For the winery was buying second-hand equipment but with the required minimum quality often rudimentary, adapting it to what he intended to do, which was good wine, developing his idea of the wine producer, farm wine.
There currently are marketing their Monte White Casteleja, rosé and red, and the red Selection Maria, a more sophisticated, special wine. With the help of his wife, sells its wine directly to the restoration in the art and the cellar door shops, trying to maintain an independence that considers fundamental.
The producer never is satisfied and always looking for new solutions, such as broad beans planting of the vineyards, in his time, which, besides being aesthetically interesting, will give natural nutrients to the soil and, immediately afterwards, food our plates with snacks like some beans with chorizo and coriander.
We offer you rustic accommodation.
Double rooms with en suite bathrooms, all with window to the balcony overlooking the valley, the vineyards and mountains.
Also an independent apartment with double bedroom and separate living room with two sofa beds and kitchenette – perfect for families.