Marrying age-old tradition with contemporary winem...

Marrying age-old tradition with contemporary winemaking techniques, Ode Winery is a declaration of love for the Ribatejo

By: Alexandra Stilwell 

Something old, something new: Ode Winery is “a fascinating combination of old and new winemaking techniques with a dash of Asian culture”

In the quiet village of Vila Chã de Ourique, some 50 minutes north of Lisbon, an ancient winery has been transformed into a state-of-the-art facility with an unexpected twist. Behind its long and unassuming flamingo-pink façade, Ode Winery.

Reborn to serenade the region and its well-established agricultural tradition, Ode Winery opened its cellar doors in 2021, launching five outstanding wines. An excellent start for an ambitious project created by David Clarkin and Andrew Ohman, two Australians who together boast decades of experience in real estate development in Asia and Australia.

Ode Collection

Raising the bar and bringing international flair to the region, Ode Winery goes hand in hand with Ode Farm & Living, a €70 million luxury countryside resort like no other in Portugal that will feature a hotel, luxury glamping tents and villas, on the banks of the Tagus River.

The winery, which dates back to 1902, was completely remodelled in 2000, only to be abandoned for 10 years. Thanks to the Australian duo’s entrepreneurial vision, it got a new lease of life in 2022. Newly refurbished, the winery still features ancient equipment such as the original distillery and laboratory, 12 large oak ageing vats, wooden presses, stone lagares, and clay amphorae used to make limited-edition wines.

Below the surface sits an astonishing cellar: an ample and carefully lit space, housing 700 barrels, that looks and feels like a Masonic temple. A miniature version of the Louvre’s glass pyramid lets visitors peek at the production process below whilst an inverted stone pyramid hangs above the cellar exit.

There is also a sophisticated tasting room where winemaker Maria Vicente, who is also a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) teacher, conducts fascinating tastings for visitors. Born in the Alentejo, Maria has over 20 harvests under her belt, 17 of which in the Tejo region, an experience which has given her in-depth knowledge of the terroir and its grape varieties.

Working with her to develop the wines is Jim Cawood, “Director of Wine and Good Times”, who is also responsible for sales, distribution and F&B projects, “existing and future”. Together, they faced the challenge of regenerating the vines that had been abandoned for 10 years. Although the yield was low, the advantage was that no pesticides or herbicides had been used for the last decade.

Ode’s 22 hectares of vines include PortugueseArinto, Fernão Pires, Alvarinho, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Barroca – and international varietiesSémillon, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. On top of vines, the 96-hectare farm produces many other crops, for which the project uses organic and syntropic regenerative agriculture, meaning that several crops grow together simultaneously, allowing plants to work in synergy.

Made with “minimum intervention and maximum attention”, Ode produces elegant and fruity wines that respect the unique characteristics of each variety, allowing their distinctive flavours to shine through.

Ode’s portfolio currently features four whites and a red. The Semillon 2022, an unusual variety for the region, is aromatic on the nose and dry in the mouth. Light and easy to drink, but with good structure, it is very citrusy and ideally paired with seafood.

The Viognier 2022 is delicate and elegant, with aromas of white peach, nectarine, apricot and tropical flavours with hints of ginger and spice and a very sensitive acidity. Made in steel tanks, it has good volume in the mouth without the influence of wood.

The Fernão Pires 2022, a local variety known for its exuberant aromas, is a “very different Fernão Pires”, says Maria, who explains: “We wanted it to keep its floral and tropical expression with more citrusy aromas, but at the same time, we wanted to wrap it in elegance, so we used 50% of new barrels to achieve that.”

The Arinto 2022 is an exquisite example of the super-potential of this variety. Bursting with delicious pear and green apple, buttermilk, quince, subtle vanilla aromas, and incredibly well-integrated acidity, it is the most mineral of the whites.

The first red to be launched, the Touriga Nacional 2022, was foot-trodden in stone lagares, with 30% of the stems, aged in concrete deposits that allow micro-oxygenation and 30% aged in new barrels for just four months. It has the sweetness of the wood, the freshness given by the stem, and the velvetiness given by the porous deposits. It is a vibrant, deep purple-red wine with aromas of plum, mulberry, and spices and has a delicate earthiness.

The dynamic winery team is launching five more references, including an Alicante Bouschet aged in amphorae and a red made with four varieties called Quarteto. Experimenting with Touriga Nacional, they have made a monovarietal with grapes foot-trodden in lagares, and another made using carbonic maceration, resulting in a red similar to a Beaujolais Nouveau. “What makes this variety special are its aromatic characters, perfume and spice. That’s what we want to highlight in different expressions,” explains Maria. As for white, they are launching an Ode to the winemaker, a blend of Arinto and Fernão Pires.

Across the courtyard, the project’s Asian influences come to life. Inspired by izakayas, Japanese tapas bars, the Cellar Door restaurant is an Ode to Eastern flavours. Chef Kazuya Yokoyama, who came from Nagasaki to be part of the project, created a menu offering Asian zest with a touch of Portuguese flavours, featuring classics such as Edamame (€4), Prawn Tempura (€16) and Maki (€10), as well as Bao Kakuni (€6), a steamed bao bun with braised pork belly and coriander, Urinchi (€12), Japanese fried chicken with spicy tomato sauce, Oden (€6), a traditional dashi soup with fishcakes, tofu and shiitake mushrooms and many more, all perfectly paired with Ode wines.

Follow Ode Winery on Facebook and Instagram.


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