“Today, the big companies have bought up land and taken charge of farming and making port. […] But it may be smaller producers like [Luis] Seabra who will help lift the reputation of the Douro as a source for great table wines […].” —Eric Asimov of The New York Times

There’s no ragtag band of young producers vowing to carry Portugal’s Douro Valley, land of sweet fortified red wine, into the future, as has been the recent narrative for so many other alt-regions across the world.

But they do have Luis Seabra—a winemaker who spearheaded the growth at the port house Niepoort for a decade, then in 2013, veered left into unknown terrain, channeling the Douro’s terroir to produce delicate still wines—who will surely inspire the next generations to come.

Today, I'm happy to offer the 2018 Luis Seabra Granito Cru Alvarinho, along with seven other Seabra wines that prove this is the first stop on any Portugal tour.

Most small growers are likely to sell their fruit to the big port companies that dominate the region, and the still reds that are produced are big and blustering, ripe and tannic. Still whites are pushed to the bottom of the totem pole. Ironically, where Luis sources most of his wines in eastern Douro has some of the most extreme diurnal shifts in the region—apt for high-acid, mineral-driven wines with tension.

Last year, Eric Asimov of the New York Times wrote a feature on Luis Seabra and Dirk Niepoort that better encapsulates why this is a monumental shifting point for Portugal.

But what really sets Luis apart—not just in Portugal—is his affinity for soil, capturing this singular aspect of terroir and its influence on wine. In Portuguese, the word cru actually translates to “raw,” referring to the raw soils of his vineyard sources.

In the Douro, Luis' vineyards are white and red field blends of native Portuguese varieties, laden with schist, but the Granito Cru Alvarinho actually comes from a vineyard further northwest in Vinho Verde, closer to the Albariño region in Spain’s Galicia. The vineyard, planted in 1989, is made up of granite soils.

With this context, the Granito Cru Alvarinho is quite unique. Words that came to mind in our tasting: Saline, acid, electric, light-footed, and white florals. I savored the wine over the course of a weekend, and it just kept going, revealing an alternate ego that had rich, oceanic, almost umami flavors. This is a powerful wine, not in body or weight, but in its steady energy and depth.

Producers like Luis Seabra are few and far between. So much so that it now seems funny that he was on my radar years before the more recognized Raul Perez and Comando G in Spain, producing bright and fresh wines in a similar vein. Whether or not the Douro seizes this moment, Luis has made a compelling case for a style of wine that completely reconfigures our perception of this region.