Exlibris Baco

“We haven’t won any awards, and we don’t want to,” says Januário Alonso, CEO at wine producer Exlibris Baco. “When you create great wines, you do not need a sticker to tell you so. Prizes are so common they become liabilities. If you’re lost in their pursuit you will do anything: you’ll chase fashions, follow trends and eventually you will have lost your identity. Our only concern is our customer’s experience.”

In 1757, 335 stone markers were erected by the Marquis of Pombal in the Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro province of Portugal. These granite pillars demarcated the world’s first wine region, Alto Douro. “Our wine has to reach impeccable standards of excellence in order to achieve the Denominação de Origem Controlada classification,” says Januário. “This is no easy task. A blind taste test is carried out by the Port & Douro Wine Institute – only if we pass this can our bottles leave the valley.”

Grape varieties of the region are regulated, and written law states authorized and recommended varieties. In the red varieties, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, Touriga Nacional and Tinto Cão stand out; the predominant white grape varieties are Malvasia Fina, Viosinho, Donzelinho and Gouveio. “Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz are our favourite in the reds,” says Januário. “They give our wine its fruity taste, the rich colour, the bouquet. No other wines can get close to the wonderful smells.”

Exlibris Baco is a family-run winemaker, part of the Douro region’s cultural history since 1769. Over hundreds of years, terraced planting areas known as “Socalcos” have been cut into the mountains on which to plant the vineyards. “This is a landscape that has been crafted by human endeavour,” says Januário. “The violent beauty of nature is tamed, moment by moment, the Socalcos have been created by an instinct to survive and continually improve. This is a valley built by the passion of generations.”

It’s a passion that drives Exlibris Baco. “As soon as we see the grapes grow and plumpen we know we have something special,” says Januário. “This inspires us to look closer and closer at our processes, trusting tradition while employing new technologies. We are obsessed with details, even down to the altitude at which the grapes are grown. Everything matters.”

This year the winemaker is going a step further. “We have created a new super-wine,” says Januário. “The grapes used have been harvested at night. This is when the juice is at its very best and the cool air preserves the greatest flavours. The grapes have been selected individually, fruit by fruit; only the healthiest are chosen. We want to lose none of the magic of Douro. We are driven by the idea of perfection, we know it is impossible and yet still we reach for it. This is why Exlibris Baco continues to create the finest wines. Improvement is our tradition.”

Exlibris Baco’s purpose is simple. “We want to create frivolous moments of joy for our customers,” says Januário. “There is always a new ‘best wine’. This merely proves it is impossible. A good life does not have one best moment, it is a series of great moments that work together. We make wines that allow for an unforgettable experience, that let the drinker revel in an indulgence grown on our vines. This is our obsession.”