Introducing Ouranos and Melissae – the newest members of Aphros

Quinta do Espadanal
Quinta do Espadanal
The residence of our bees
The residence of our bees

The birth of a wine is a mysterious thing, specially for all of us who dream them and make them happen.

A good analogy is the parenting of children, because they always transcend our capacities and intentions. Even if allowed to play a role in generating and educating them, we are nothing but the soil that supports their blossoming into individuals we could never have imagined.

In the same way, as each wine  gains a life and character of its own, we begin to question whether we made them or just served as the means they made use of for coming into existence.

We prepare the soils, select and plant the vines, then pamper them for years. At a certain point grapes come, in quantity and quality enough to be transformed into wine. We then ask what kind of wine they want to be and appoint ourselves to be their tutors, the instruments in charge of guiding them to completion.

After a quiet, usually long wait, the inspiration for their names and images finally appears, as the last stage of a birth.

Ouranos is the ancient God of the Skies in Greek Mythology. The name was chosen in allusion to the extreme levity of this wine that makes us feel as if we are floating in the air.

Melissae is the name of the nymphs of honey, another substance associated with the divine world and intimately connected with the origins of wine. The choosing of this name is a tribute to the bees, for a wine with intense flowery aromatics that remind us of the nectar they collect. The grapes of Melissae come from our highest plot, which is also the residence of our bees.

Ouranos and Melissae are the most recent members of the Aphros’ classic range, adding a red and a white to our portfolio 8 years after its creation. They represent 15 years of research with viticulture and winemaking in the Vinho Verde region and can be seen as strong statement about its potential as a birthplace for wines of excellence. Being a new generation of wines, they also materialize a new phase of the winery, being  the first creations since Tiago Sampaio (consultant winemaker) and Miguel Viseu (resident winemaker) joined the winemaking team in 2017.

Vasco and José Pedro Croft in the artist’s studio
Ouranos implied years for discovering and being seduced by Alvarelhão, then finding and collecting vegetal material from several producers that still have this rare grape, in order to ensure genetic diversity.

Beyond the rescue of an almost extinct grape, Ouranos means the resurrection of a style of wine. Used for making the clarets for the northern aristocracy until the 19th century, Alvarelhão is all about elegance and refinement – just the opposite of the rustic red wine profiles the region is known for. With a very light ruby color, this is a wine that combines lightness with length and depth. Made with extended maceration in stainless steel vats, Ouranos is aged for 9 months in used chestnut barriques.

The labels

Behind the labels of Aphros there is a story of a long friendship between Vasco Croft and José Pedro Croft.

The graphic artist João Bicker composed the labels and created a new layout.
The graphic artist João Bicker composed the labels and created a new layout.

Cousins and friends they know each other from an early age. Being a few years older, José Pedro was a kind of mentor to Vasco with whom he enthusiastically shared new realms of experience as he discovered them himself. One of them was contemporary art of which he was to become an internationally acclaimed master.
When asked to participate in the making of the Aphros’ labels in 2011, he most generously offered the collection of prints used for the whole classic range. Eight years after, with the challenge of making Ouranos and Melissae, José Pedro suggested an upgrade in the layout and offered two recent artworks to match the wines.

The graphic artist João Bicker composed the labels and created a new layout, where the spaces of text and image became vertically superimposed. The sequence of brand, wine and year are now all contained in the same horizontal space under the image, inviting the viewer to take hold of the bottle and turn it around to be able to read it.