Updated: Feb 11
“Living in the Alentejo ourselves, Luís’ reputation preceded him. When we finally met, it was because we were looking for a place to do a wine tasting and lunch for our tour groups after our visit to the Saturday outdoor market in Estremoz. Adega Monte Branco ended up being the place, and two years ago we took our first group there. The afternoon was spectacular. Luís is warm, informative and funny. He has strong opinions about winemaking and a clear vision for Monte Branco. His wines are uniformly great, from entry level to age worthy. The landscape is postcard perfect. The food is high quality but unpretentious, the roast leg of lamb and simple salad he prepared for us were perfect in their simplicity. That afternoon we realized more people in the United States needed to know about Luís and Monte Branco.”
-Importers of Adega Monte Branco wines, Peter & Nina Brinkman
Luís Louro at Adega Monte Branco.
Winery: Adega Monte Branco
Winemakers: Luís Louro and Inês Capão
Appellation: Alentejo, Portugal
Total Production in Bottles: 250,000
Number of Different Wines Produced: 8
Cork Closures: Yes
Farming Methods: Sustainable
Yield per Hectare: 7
Q: How did you end up at the winery?
A: I lived all my life in Estremoz, in the Alentejo region, and my father became a wine producer when I was 9 years old. I always loved to be outside in the vineyards and the decision to become a winemaker came naturally. When I was 23 I decided that I wanted to produce my own wines to express my feeling of the great potential of this region.
Q: What is your focus?
A: My focus and passion is making wines that feel authentic from indigenous Portuguese varietals, with a great respect for nature.
Luís' line of 'Alento' wines from Adega Monte Branco. Available in the store.
Q: Everyone talks about terroir. What makes yours unique?
A: Terroir is the combination of four factors: varietals used, soils, climate and human influence. Estremoz, where I am based, is in the south of Portugal. It is a very warm and dry region, but our vineyards sit at an altitude of 450m on top of a large subsoil water reserve, which makes our microclimate a little less warm and a little less dry. On top of that we have two different types of soils: limestone and shale. These factors plus the diversity of the unique Portuguese grape varietals we use and the work we do make our wines balanced and fresh, packed with flavor, and very authentic to who and where we are.
Q: What do you do to keep your wines and land healthy?
A: We are under a sustainable growing program that encompasses our entire process, from vineyard planting and management, to wine production, packaging and logistics. On top of that, our goal is to express our terroir by respecting the environment and what nature gives us.
Q: How many different grape varieties do you work with?
Q: If you use non-indigenous grapes, what is the reason?
A: We grow a small amount of Syrah that we use a small percentage of for blending in one of our wines. To me, it's like using salt and pepper while you're cooking; there to enhance and bind the other other flavors, but not too powerful and not too present.
"These factors plus the diversity of the unique Portuguese grape varietals we use and the work we do make our wines balanced and fresh, packed with flavor, and very authentic to who and where we are."
Q: What are your goals for the winery?
A: My goal is to continue our work, to keep making authentic sustainable wines, and to find customers that share our values and help us continue doing what we do. It is important to me that we do not grow in volume; I believe if you grow too much you lose wine passion and become a wine industry. I would also like to produce more varieties of wines, especially wines that show character and respect the history and varietals of the region.
Q: What impact is climate change having?
A: As with all agricultural products, we are definitely being influenced by climate change. We are experiencing longer periods of drought and more frequent and intense heat waves. Harvest has become earlier over the past few years. We fight these changes by looking for soils that keep better humidity and by using rootstocks that handle periods of drought better. We plant more long cycle varietals. Ironically, most of these varietals we are planting were the ones originally planted in the region but have been replaced by winemakers in recent years. Our movement is opposite to a lot of producers in our area.
Estremoz, the white village.
Q: Tell us something about your region in regards to history, music, art, etc.
A: Estremoz was a very important city in Portugal in the 13th and 14th centuries. Many important battles in the history of Portugal are connected to this town. It's a historical city surrounded on three sides by walls. It is known as the white village, not only because of the color of the houses, but also because of its white marble extraction which was a large and healthy business in the last century. Since the 90s, marble businesses have begun to struggle, but wine production has emerged and has now become the most important economic activity in the area.
Q: Tell us about the foods of your region.
A: The food here is great and very tasty. We use lots of local products. Here, black pig, lamb, and soups based on wild herbs play a major role.
Q: What is your favorite local restaurant?
A: This is a very difficult question. There are many, not only in Estremoz, but in all of Alentejo. For Estremoz I will call it a tie between two, Gadanha and Alecrim.
Q: What is their specialty?
A: At Gadanha their specialty is pork cheeks. At Alecrim their specialty is lamb chops.
Q: What do you eat at home with your wine?
A: I have wines for different types of foods. I like to eat everything and I like to drink many different wines. I just want foods and wines that are good and pleasant; wines that make you always want just one more glass.
The wine cellar at Alecrim in Estremoz.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: I like to hunt, ski, go to restaurants and travel.
Q: What about your next vacation?
A: I like to spend vacations on the Alentejo coast with my wife and three kids.
Shop Luís' wines from Adega Monte Branco below:
Adega Monte Branco 'Alento' Rosé 2019 | $20
A blend of Aragonez (85%) and Touriga Nacional (15%) and aged in stainless steel, this wine is lively with intense flavors of fresh red berries. It is well balanced with softness and acidity, prolonging the feeling of freshness it shows on the palate. This wine makes a great aperitif or "while you're cooking dinner" wine, but it's also great for pairing. We love it with moderately spiced take-out like tacos, gyros and moroccan couscous with chicken. View in store.
Adega Monte Branco 'Alento' White 2018 | $20
Made entirely from indigenous Portuguese grape varieties Arinto (50%), Antão Vaz (40%) and Roupeiro (10%) and aged in stainless steel, this wine has strong aromatics of zesty citrus fruit and minerality. It's a well balanced wine with smooth, integrated acidity that lends it freshness and length. We love this wine with all things from the sea. It is exceptionally good with white fish and meats, and leafy green herbs. View in store.
Adega Monte Branco 'Alento' Red 2017 | $20
Made from indigenous Portuguese grape varieties Aragonez (40%), Tincadeira (40%), Alicante Bouschet (10%) and Touriga Nacional (10%) and aged in stainless steel, this wine has intense aromas of ripe, juicy red fruits that are balanced and fresh. Its medium body, medium tannin and medium acidity make it a fantastically diverse wine when it comes to food pairing. While it's delicious with red meats and ham, it also lends well to roasted vegetables, smoke, hearty pastas and even Mexican food. View in store.
Adega Monte Branco 'Alento' Reserva White 2017 | $25
Produced entirely with the indigenous Portuguese grape varieties Arinto (70%) and Antão Vaz (30%) and aged for 5 months in neutral French oak, this wine is incredibly well balanced and fresh with delicate oaky flavors, smooth acidity, fresh, juicy citrus fruits and a long, mineral finish. We love this wine with richer seafood dishes, including Portugal's famous Bacalhau (salt cod) due to its higher acidity and lemon-zest like flavors. View in store.
Adega Monte Branco 'Alento' Reserva Red 2015 | $30
Produced mainly from grape varieties indigenous to the region, Aragonez (40%), Alicante Bouschet (40%), Touriga Nacional (10%) and Syrah (10%), and aged for 12 months in French oak, this is a full bodied wine with a heavy mouth-feel, ripe tannins and rich aromatic intensity, with strong notes of ripe fruits and spice. This is a complex wine with a long finish. This wine is great with red meats and ham, smokey foods, hearty pastas and Mexican dishes. View in store.
Adega Monte Branco Luis Louro 2015 | $52.94
This powerhouse blend of Alicante Bouschet (70%) and Aragonez (30%) is aged in French oak for 12 months. It pours a beautiful and sultry deep, concentrated garnet color. It has incredibly high aromatic complexity, huge body, layers and layers of depth and incredible structure and acidity. Long on the finish, this is a serious wine with plenty of character and great aging potential. The best pairings for this will include steak or lamb, or any equally intense foods like barbecued and grilled meats and carne asada. View in store.