António Madeira is French of Portuguese descent, and his family roots are in the Serra da Estrela, Portugal’s highest mountain range located in the upper Dão region.
António believes the heart of Dão lies in this mountainous region, and that the fine, fresh, mineral wines you can produce here – which he refers to as the ‘Grands Crus of the Dão highlands’ – have great ageing potential. Madeira is a keen advocate of working the vineyards manually and organically, “to give life to the soils,” so the roots go deep (communicating with the mother rock) and the indigenous yeast population thrives. It is, he said, the way to express “minerality and all the flavours of the landscape.” He’s crafting phenomenal, terroir-focused wines and showing the potential of this often overlooked region.
His winemaking philosophy is simply to respect the grapes and the natural environment. Grapes are hand harvested and winemaking is gentle, aiming for minimal extraction. Using only 500l barrels whose oak has been very slowly toasted and stainless steel vats. Cultivating 30 different plots from 15 different vineyards totalling 6/7 hectares of vines. This is Burgundy scale parcellation! Most vineyards are located in the foothills of the Serra d’Estrela, but some are actually higher in the mountains. All of his wines are co-fermented field blends, using indigenous yeast and very little sulphur. If there’s a through line in his wines it would be a touch of salinity with ample freshness, an earthy quality like the first moments after it rains. Antonio Madeira is passionate about the traditions and heritage of the Dao’s Serra Da Estrela sub-zone and has nearly single-handedly rescued and preserved some of its most historical vineyards from abandonment.