Aphros is a Biodynamic estate in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal created by Vasco Croft, a Lisbon architect. The original name was Afros but in 2011 this was changed due to a possible risk of confusion with a hair style. Croft took over a 17th-century farm or ‘quinta’ which has been in his family since 1626. His aim to create a didactic, biodiverse wellness area for local wildlife, the vines, estate workers and family members, and guests. There is a restaurant and accommodation (see below).
Owner: Vasco Croft.
Staff: Winemaker (2017): Diogo Moreira.
Vineyards: 20ha of vines and 5ha of wild habitat in the Lima subregion. 6ha at Quinta Casal do Paço (the family estate). 14ha in two nearby farms, Quinta Espadanal and Quita Valflores. Mainly local grape varieties Loureiro and Vinhão.
‘The vineyards lie on softly inclined hills looking over the Lima River, rich in bio-diversity with forests acacia, oak, beech, pine and eucalyptus, chestnuts orchards and a park of century old monumental trees. The vines of Casal do Paço are situated in a south facing amphitheatre, on gentle slopes, 1km north of the Lima river. Sheltered by hills and forests from the north and west winds, they receive welcome breezes from the south bringing the Atlantic influence that characterizes the freshness of the wines,’ (Doug Wregg, July 2011).
Biodynamics: Initially, Croft sourced the 6 preparations for Biodynamic compost 502-507 from François Bouchet. He made his own Horn manure 500 but obtained Horn silica 501 with João Castella. The preparations, dynamizer, and flowform are kept at Quinta Casal do Paço.
Biodiversity: Mountain horses, sheep, bees.
Wineries (2): Since 2015 Croft has had two cellars, a main modern one and a smaller (medieval) one at Quinta Casal do Paço which is not connected to the grid (no electricity) and in which the amphora wines are made.
Loueiro Bruto Reserva: 2008 Louieiro. 12% alc.
Phaunus Pet Nat
Vino Verde Tinto Spumante, Vinhao: 2010 Base wine ferments on skins in stone vats. Racked. MLF. Then the second alcoholic fermentation is in bottle. Deep colour, modernist with a slightly odd Carignan-style aftertaste (Natural Wine Fair 2011).
Aphros Ten: 2011 Loueiro with only 10% alcohol, hence the name.
Vino Verde Branco, Loueiro: 2009 ‘Fermented at 15-18 ºC. A touch of CO2 still visible. RS 6.1 g/l, pH 3.06, TA 6.1 g/l. 12%,’ writes Julia Harding MW (18 Jun 2012). | 2010 Dry and round, wonderful modern Cox apple (Natural Wine Fair 2011). | 2011 12% alc. | 2015 Really good. Fresh, saline, mineral. VVG (Real Wine Fair 2016).
Phaunus Loueiro (Amphora): Amphora wine. 2015 Hand made without pumps. Aged in amphora. Two lots were bottled, one from destemmed grapes, the other with stems. Not sure which one I tried but I found it rather too funky (Real Wine Fair 2016); and my (perjorative) note at the Real Wine Fair 2017: ‘Very much a natural wine style.’
Ten: Not tasted.
Daphne: 2011 Around two-thirds fermented on skins, the rest in older barrels. 12%. Dry.
Rosé: 100% Vinhao.
Vino Verde Tinto, Vinhao : 2010 Deep colour, modernist with a slightly odd Carignan-style aftertaste (Natural Wine Fair 2011). | 2015 100% Vinhão (a teinturier). Lovely sappy fruit (100% destemmed), dense but ethereal (Real Wine Fair 2017).
Phaunus Palhete: Amphora wine (amphoras are made in Alentejo). / 2015 12.5%. Hand made at Quinta Casal do Paço. Hand pumping (no electricity). Nice fruit, crunchy, light at the Real Wine Fair 2016.
Silenus: 2010 100% Vinhão. Barrel aged. The second vintage of this wine.
Aphros, Quinta Casal do Paço,
Padreiro (S. Salvador), P-4970-500 Arcos de Valdevez, Portugal
Tel+351 96.123.4747 | Website www.aphros-wine.com
Quinta dos Faunos, an agritourism.
Doug Wregg, July 2011, Les Caves de Pyrène wine list.