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ALIJO, DUORO, PORTUGAL
ORGANIC (+ BIODYNAMIC uncertified)
Folias de Baco, which translates to 'the madness of Bacchus,' is the result of Tiago Sampaio's lifelong journey in agriculture and vine growing. He was born and raised in Porto, but as a child he often visited the vineyards of his grandparents on the Plateau of Alijó, Douro. Although they sold most of the grapes to the local cooperative at the time, they also made a red/white co-ferment every year for the family to drink, a wine that has since become the inspiration for his own 'Renegado.'
Tiago knew from a young age where his heart belonged. At 13 he attended an agricultural school instead of regular high school, and following university in Portugal he left for Oregon, USA. It is there that he completed a PhD in viticulture and oenology, with a particular focus on rootstocks and ungrafted vines, and the physiology of vines and the plants found in vineyards.
In 2007 he returned to Portugal and took over the 20 hectares of family vineyards in the Douro. He started small with six different wines and slowly grew from there. It took him until 2018 before he was able to vinify the entirety of his grapes, up until then he would also sell a proportion of the yield. Of the twenty hectares he now farms, 10 are planted with vines that are over 80 years old, on a mix of schist, granite, as well as some clay.
He is located in the Cima Corgo subregion of the Douro, but more specifically the Plateau of Alijó, a zone at 650m altitude where cold nighttime temperatures slow down ripening and achieve perfect phenolic ripeness at low alcohol and with a mouthwatering acidity. Hence, he tends to harvest 2-3 weeks later than most of the growers who are on the slopes of the river.
In the cellar his style has changed over the years. He is now working completely naturally with no additions aside from minuscule doses of sulphites added to some of the wines at the bottling stage. The wines are full of life and vibrancy, and showcase a style of Douro wines that was lost a very long time ago. Tasting through his range it's easy to get a sense of Tiago's vision, and the importance of his work within the Portuguese wine scene.
'UIVO' is written on most of the wines - it translates to 'howl.' The inspiration is a return to nature. Since converting all of his vineyards to organic and biodynamic practices he has seen a substantial return of wildlife. Wolves used to roam his area and he is hoping to help lure them back someday.