Since 2011, Monte de Salicos has produced 20,000 bottles of red, white and rosé wine annually, using tried and tested methods
Between Carvoeiro beach and the town of Lagoa, Monte de Salicos (MDS), a 13-hectare property, has been cultivated since the 18th century. It has been in the hands of the Cabrita family for at least five generations and, in 1999, António Cabrita, a local doctor and now co-owner, planted the first vineyards. Years later, in 2011, the winery was built, stainless steel vats were installed and so began the production of the first wines with the MDS label.
“Our red grape varieties are Aragonez, Syrah, Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon. For the white ones, we have Moscatel Galego, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdelho, Pinot Gris and Viognier,” says Pedro Cabrita, who is also a doctor and co-owner of MDS with his father.
With the sea only about three kilometres away, the vineyard’s exposure to the sea breeze, with clay-limestone soils, provides the ideal conditions both for the development of grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, and for Portuguese varieties, such as Touriga Nacional. “It’s a soil that has never had any additives, it’s natural to the area and typically Algarvian,” assures Pedro Cabrita, adding that the production is “almost biological, and almost totally non-industrial”. He adds that they “use very few products in the vineyard and it’s a very different production from the industrialised kind you see everywhere. But otherwise, it’s a typically regional wine”, from over eight hectares of vines. All the winemaking process is supervised by winemaker Mário Andrade.
Made from the Aragonez, Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties, the MDS Tinto (which the Quinta describes as “elegant, young and wild”) presents an aroma of ripe red fruits and soft leather. This is a wine with balanced tannins and acidity, which goes well with meat dishes and exotic and spicy foods. On the other hand, perfect for pairing with Mediterranean or traditional Portuguese dishes, the MDS Tinto Touriga Nacional is a blend made from the Syrah grape variety and aged for six months in oak wood. It has aromas of plums, red fruits and a touch of spices.
Meanwhile, the MDS White is ideal for fish and seafood dishes, with a persistent finish of balanced flavours and aromas of tropical fruits. It is made from the Verdelho, Moscatel Galego and Sauvignon Blanc grape varieties. Finally, the MDS Rosé is ideal for a late summer afternoon, to accompany sushi or even a salad. It has red fruit aromas, an excellent minerality and is made from Aragonez and Touriga Nacional.
With time, the winery’s producing capacity increased and, today, they churn out around 20,000 bottles per year, which can be found in supermarkets as well as restaurants across the region. The estate also has a few awards to its name, displayed in the tasting room. “We have won the gold medal for wines from the Algarve and other medals in regional and national competitions. For the production that we have, with very few wines, and after just 10 years in business, we are very proud of what we have achieved, and we hope to achieve even more,” states Pedro Cabrita.
But MDS’s operations extend beyond wine production. “We sell carob, we have collaborated with the town council in various activities such as the Lagoa Wine Experiences, we hold events and wine tastings. The Quinta is pretty much always open,” says the co-owner.
They also provide local accommodation in a house set very close to the vineyards, with two bedrooms, a private pool and barbecue, available to rent all year round. “We are full for this summer and there is already a lot of people interested in our wine-related activities. I have noticed differences in the tourist profile, with more and more foreigners,” he explains.
As for the future, although MDS has been part of the UNESCO heritage routes in the municipality of Lagoa since 2017, they have no plans to go global. “We want to expand both the winery and our production capacity. Our ambition is not to become a large company. The goal is always to maintain the genuineness that the Quinta has always had,” he points out. But, above all, is the legacy Pedro Cabrita would like to leave behind. “MDS has been in our family for at least five generations. Today it’s me, my father, my wife and my daughter. We are all heavily involved in this project, which I hope will stay in the family.”
By Maria Simiris