Wine of the Year #1:
Joe's Pick - 2016 Seabra Douro Xisto Cru Branco

Posted by Joe Salamone

It’s difficult to imagine tasting Luis Seabra’s 2016 Xisto Cru Branco and not undergoing a major reappraisal of all sorts of things.

For starters, it’s hard to look at geography, of what fine wine is, and where it can be made the same way again.

No wine that I tasted this year has stretched my conception of what’s possible the way that Luis Seabra’s 2016 Xisto Cru Branco did. Once you combine that with the wine’s sheer quality, you get a very clear picture of why I selected it as my wine of the year.

It’s a white wine from Portugal’s Douro region (aka Port country) that clocks in at 12.5 percent alcohol and has such an emphatic mineral imprint and refinement that the only point of reference I could reach for was Chablis. And, to be clear, the Xisto Cru is so utterly unique that you won’t get that much mileage out of the Chablis comparison. Still, we’re in uncharted territory enough that you need something to orient yourself.

Luis Seabra is a key player in the vinicultural revolution that’s making Portugal one of the most exciting places in all of wine. Seabra was the winemaker at the famed Port house, Niepoort. In 2012, he left to pursue working in a more personal style. “Cru” translates as “raw” in Portuguese and Seabra strives to present the terroir in the most unmediated way.

Here you get choice vineyards and extremely sensitive and largely hands-off winemaking. The Xisto Cru Branco comes from mica schist soils in southern Douro. The vines were planted in 1920-1933 and the wine is a blend of Rabigato, Codega, Gouveio, and Viosinho Dozelino Branco. The high-altitude vineyards experience dramatic differences between day and night-time temperatures. This helps explain how Seabra is able to coax such extraordinary verve out of the wines.

The 2016 Xisto Cru Branco amazes with its sleek length, its cut and its dusty, ultra-expressive minerality. The level of punch and detail are beyond shocking.

I encourage you try at least one bottle. It’s a safe bet that, from a wine perspective, things will never be exactly the same. This is an important wine that deserves a place among the world’s finest.

To order, email or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone

Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits