Luis Seabra - Xisto Ilimitado 2020
Two summers ago I visited Portugal and Spain to seek out new and exciting wines to offer. The highlight of my trip was my tasting with famed Douro pioneer Luis Seabra! After a decade as head winemaker at Douro powerhouse Niepoort, Luis recently launched his personal project. With this endeavor he aims to produce wines, "that really tell you where they come from, wine from specific vineyards with minimal intervention, wines that are true and honest, raw and pure." I tasted four wines with Luis, three at $45-$70 retail, and this little wine at less than $25. As good as the top end wines were I just couldn't get my mind of how delicious this little entry level gem was, so fresh, so bright, so pure.
I thought I knew what Douro reds were all about before I tasted this wine, but Xisto Ilimitado is like no other wine I have tasted from Portugal's famous wine region. A blend of 30% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Amarela, 20% Tinta Roriz, 10% Rufete, 10% Tinta Barroca, 5% Malvasia Preta, 5% Donzelinho Tinto from vines planted from 1960 to 1980 in schist soil at 400-600 m (1,232-1,968 ft) elevation. Close to 2000 ft in elevation, that is pretty darn high for red grapes in the Douro! Luis meticulously selected these plots for their unique profile. The old vines, ancient schist soils, and high sun exposure translate brilliantly into this red. Luis' minimal interventionist style of wine-making allows all the fruit to do its thing naturally. Luis is a traditionalist at heart, using foot pigeage (crushing of the grapes) for 30% of the fermentation in large stone lagars, and the rest in vats. All the fruit is fermented whole cluster, using only native yeasts. Maceration for 8-25 days depending on the plot, and no new oak at all.
Pull the cork and this beauty jumps from the glass, I loved the accessibility of this wine right from the offset. High toned and wonderfully floral, with a delicate mix of red and blue fruit aromas, tinged with wet stone and violets. It's so wonderfully pure and precise on the palate - a delight to sip on. Light to medium bodied, impeccably balanced with red cherry and pomegranate fruit, stony minerals and bright acidity keep you coming back sip after sip. The flavors continue to emerge in the glass; white pepper, slate and hints of fresh picked herbs overlay the juicy core of fresh fruits seamlessly. You'll be pouring yourself a second (or third) glass of this wine before you know it, and at just 12% ABV you can drink a couple of glasses or more and you don't need a nap! The perfect late afternoon drink perhaps?!
I'd rate this 92 pts easily, as it stacks up comparably (and somewhat stylistically) next to Cru Beaujolais and Cotes de Nuits Burgundies with those kind of scores. Drink it happily over the next 2-3 years. Pair with roasted game and poultry, brothy soups, or just kick back and pop a bottle late afternoon one day. Enjoy it for all it's delightful bright deliciousness now!
Vintages and ratings subject to change at any time.
All pricing and availability subject to change.
Artwork does not necessarily represent items for sale.