From: Azores, Portugal
Taste: The 2017 Azores Wine Co. Isabella Proibida Tinto is a beautifully crafted wine that captivates the senses from the moment the bottle is opened. Upon pouring, the wine presents a striking ruby-purple hue, hinting at the intensity of flavors to come. The nose is immediately greeted with a complex and explosive bouquet of sour cherry, cranberry, sour beer, beef blood, and sea spray, setting the stage for a truly unique tasting experience.
As the wine cascades across the palate, high-toned, juicy red cherry fruit emerges, accompanied by mouth-watering acidity and a pronounced salinity that speaks to the volcanic terroir of Pico. The Isabella Proibida Tinto's mid-palate unveils a funky, sauvage quality, leading to a long finish laden with umami-rich flavors of meat, seaweed, and wet stone. The wine's impressive clarity, concentration, and profound mineral signature create a tasting experience that lingers in the memory long after the last sip.
Pairing: The versatility of the 2017 Azores Wine Co. Isabella Proibida Tinto lends itself to an array of food pairings. Its high acidity, bold flavors, and strong mineral backbone make it a natural match for seafood, game dishes, and mushroom-based recipes.
For general pairings, consider dishes such as grilled octopus, roasted duck, or a hearty wild mushroom risotto. The wine's acidity and salinity will complement and elevate the flavors in each dish.
Drawing inspiration from the Azores' regional cuisine, pair the Isabella Proibida Tinto with dishes like caldeirada de peixe (fish stew), alcatra (Azorean pot roast), or lapas grelhadas (grilled limpets) to celebrate the wine's unique island heritage. The recipe we’re sharing below takes a note from these tips in Sam Sifton’s adaptation of Nick Anderer’s Pork Ragù al Maialino.
For vegetarian options, the wine's bold flavor profile and high acidity make it an ideal companion for dishes like roasted vegetable and goat cheese tart, aubergine and tomato bake, or a hearty lentil and mushroom stew. Each pairing will enhance the wine's complexity while also highlighting the savory flavors in the dishes.
Pork Ragù al Maialino
Recipe from Nick Anderer
Adapted by Sam Sifton
About. Just over a decade ago, António Maçanita, along with his partners, embarked on a daring wine adventure that led to the establishment of the Azores Wine Company on the volcanic island of Pico, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rooted in the Azorean heritage of António's father and their shared efforts in recovering the indigenous Terrantez do Pico varietal, the company has garnered significant attention and praise. One of their most unique creations is the 2017 Isabella Proibida Tinto, a wine that erupts with flavor, embodying the constant battle between the sea and the mountain.
The Isabella Proibida Tinto is a rare breed of wine, made from a hybrid of Vitis Vinifera and Vitis Labrusca. This combination grants the wine a heightened resistance to phylloxera and bestows upon it an intoxicating, sauvage aroma. Delicate yet powerful, Isabella boasts a distinct mineral signature, remarkable concentration, and food-friendly acidity.
The 2017 vintage of Isabella Proibida Tinto received a 94 rating from Forbes, deeming it an "Excellent Value," while the 2015 vintage scored a 90 from Wine Advocate. This wine is made from 100% Isabella grapes, sustainably grown in volcanic basalt soils at sea level. The terroir of Pico, where the vines battle against extreme conditions to thrive, is key to Isabella's unique character.
Isabella's high acidity and versatility make it a perfect pairing for seafood, mushrooms, and game dishes. The wine's production involves hand-harvesting, manual bunch selection, and a 24-hour maceration in stainless steel tanks. Following gravity-flow racking, the wine is aged for 12 months in 600 and 1000-liter stainless steel tanks.
The Azores Wine Company's vineyards in Pico are situated at sea level, where the volcanic basalt soil puts immense stress on the vines, resulting in low yields. With temperatures ranging from 60-70°F (15-21°C) and an annual rainfall of 1200mm (47"), the vineyards are a testament to the resilience of the vines in a seemingly inhospitable environment.
The 2017 Isabella Proibida Tinto offers a brilliant ruby-purple hue and exudes explosive aromas of sour cherry, cranberry, sour beer, beef blood, and sea spray. The palate is treated to high-toned, juicy red cherry fruit, mouth-watering acidity, and a pronounced salinity. Funky and sauvage through the mid-palate, the wine finishes with umami-rich flavors of meat, seaweed, and wet stone, showcasing impressive clarity and concentration.
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