Susana Esteban Procura Branco 2015
One does not easily find Susana Esteban's winery. It's hidden from the main road, no signage, no indication that anyone would be welcomed there to taste wine. Finally getting there was one of those tests of perserverance with the GPS that I believe will pay off for years to come.
Perhaps everyone's GPS will fail them and I hope we can keep Susana Esteban a secret for a long time. She might be Portugal's most shining star.
Susana owns no vineyards and makes her wine in a re-purposed machine shed, super clean now, yet very production-oriented and no nonsense. There's a fermentation room, a barrel hall, and a bottle stock area. That's it. It would be like taking a tour of the mechanic's garage. Only a wine geek would ooh and ahhh.
Her project began nearly a decade ago, wishing to highlight the Alentejo's forgotten gems--old vineyards deep in the hills of this wonderful area east of Lisbon. She consulted here and there, lent her knowledge and experience as an oenologist and winemaker, and one day was pointed up a long dirt road, to the top of a hill near Portalegre, and disovered an old planting of native Portuguese white grapes.
Two years later, Procura (a word meaning "the search") was born.
The vineyard was all inter-planted with dozens of different white grape varieties (!). She thinks it could be 80 years old. She farms this plot meticulously, and it yields a very small quantity of grapes, just enough for about 3000 bottles. After about 8 months in old French barrels she bottles it then allows it to wait patiently for a year prior to release.
Procura White is shockingly good. It's as haromious, layered, rich and complex as any white I've tasted in years. Over almost a week in Portugal it was hands down the best white we tried. I would liken it to great white burgundy, but that wouldn't be fair, because there's really no comparison. You'll see for yourself!