- COMMENDED (2015) Sommelier Wine Awards 2017
Located in the heart of the Alentejo region, the Herdade do Esporão Estate was established in 1267. Having passed through various families and Counts of the region, the property has been owned by the Roquette family since 1973. They are keen to preserve what is genuine and traditional, but seek to combine this with innovation. At the heart of all Esporão projects is the preservation of the environment and biodiversity.
Production is overseen by the well-respected and highly-experienced, Australian-born and trained winemaker David Baverstock, who is at the forefront of modern Portuguese winemaking. His philosophy is to create authentic and exciting wines, taking advantage of Portuguese wine heritage and combining it with a contemporary approach. In 2012, he was named Portuguese Winemaker of the Year by Portugal's Essência do Vinho and Wine Magazine Portugal.
Herdade do Esporão is characterised by the diversity of its volcanic and schist soils, warmed by the Alentejo sun and tempered by cool Atlantic breezes; the estate stretches for over 1800 hectares with 500 hectares of vineyards. There are approximately 100 soil profilers installed to assess the level of water in the soil; irrigation is then adjusted to cause the plant to experience water stress during the grape’s growth phase, thus achieving lower but higher-quality yields.
Esporão was the first wine company in the world to sign the ‘Countdown 2010’ initiative, with one of their commitments being to encourage and protect the cultivation of a wide range of original genetic grape varieties to help discover alternative solutions for the future. Their Ampelographic Field Vineyard is testament to this commitment. This nine hectare vineyard is planted with a collection of over 200 Portuguese, and some foreign grape varieties which are in danger of becoming extinct. Of the 208 grape varieties planted, 31 account for 98% of the total estate’s production.
Esporão aims to adapt all agricultural activity to organic methods in the next five years. Currently, integrated pest management and better agricultural methods are achieved by gathering data from weather stations, soil humidity sensors and using fully automated irrigation systems. There are now over 110 different species of animals on the estate including wild pigs, foxes, deer, otters, wild cats, hares, rabbits and a huge variety of birds.