MATEUS NICOLAU DE ALMEIDA
In 2023 we travelled through France and across Spain visiting as many suppliers as we could fit in. By the time we reached Barcelona, it just felt right to keep on going, so we followed up on a tip from Laurence and Eric Texier, and drove into the Douro region of Portugal to pay a visit to Mateus and Teresa (Ametzoy) in Vila Nova de Foz Coa.
After a couple of wrong turns (as happens when in semi-uncharted GPS territory) we finally found them at the end of a windy, single lane dirt road – the winery building, built cave-like, into the unique dark, schist that is typical of Foz Coa.
Mateus is the fifth generation of his family to make wines in the Douro – his father Joao is one of Portugal’s most celebrated winegrowers and his grandfather Fernando was the founder of Portugal’s famous ‘Casa Ferreirinha Barca Velha’ wine. If you review his family history it is easily understandable that he made his first wine at only 10 years old. His continued curiosity with wine let to much world travel, including seasons at Caves de Saint Mont, Chateau Grillet and Chateau Cantenac Brown where he met Teresa Ametzoy.
Teresa is a San Sebatian native, raised in Rioja. After spending 8 years as winemaker in Xerez, various positions in Italy, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Dom. De Traveallon and Josmeyer in Alsace, Teresa was head winemaker for Ramos Pinto from 2005 until 2019 when she left to fully focus with Mateus on Mateus Nicolau de Almeida, started in 2015.
The project is organically farmed and certified and their philosophy is to respect nature and encourage biodiversity. The wines produced from indigenous varieties (Rabigato, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Sousao, Tinta Amarela & Bastardo) are transparently reflective of the three subregions of Douro with indigenous varieties:
Trans Douro Express – 3 reds from approximately ten different vineyards that are demonstrative of the three different climatic regions of the Douro: Baixo Corgo (the west and most moderate), Cima Corgo (the middle) and Douro Superior (the most easterly; most continental).
Eremitas – 3 single vineyard, ‘soil wines’ – white wines from the same area in the Douro Superior region that each tell a different story due to the differences in their soil composition.
Curral Teles – these are what they call their ‘human wines’; the wines that they freely experiment with in the cellar for the joy of knowledge and discovery – including wines aged in a granite block designed by their friend (architect/artist) Pedro Jervell – and named from the Greek Alphabet (Alfa, Beta, Delta, Gamma, Kappa) in honor of the Greek Academies.
They also produce two amazing Port wines – Lagrima and Ruby Seco as well as raise their own animals, crops, make their own vinegars, olive oil and distillates and even have their own small wine importing company. In constant motion with new, innovative project and partnerships (Simplesmente Vinho, various music and wine events, etc. oh, and the creation of a natural, underground amphora in their backyard – the drilling of which was well underway on the day of our visit) they also have a lovely family with which we were fortunate to spend some time with over lunch after our ‘work’ was finished.
We currently import 3 wines from Mateus and Teresa, one from each line: Trans Douro Express: Cima Corgo, Eremitas: Amon de Kelia and Curral Teles: Kappa.