How do you explain a feeling? It seems as though words always fall short for those deeply felt, inner core feelings. The Portuguese are famous for an attempt at one of those feelings. A feeling that they call saudades (pronounced: sow- dahge or if you are Brazilian, you might say it like sow-dah-gee). This word has no translation to English, or many other languages, but represents the feeling of a deep longing, a yearning for something, a feeling that is more devastating than just “missing”. It is a mix of melancholia and nostalgia as it plays on your actual experiences and memories. It is a longing for something that you can never have back again, that has disappeared on the horizon. You can remember it so well, you can almost transport yourself back to it. But then, the second you let yourself remember that this is only a memory, the bubble pops and you are left with a cold ache in your heart, a heaviness in your head that makes your eyes close, and a limpness in your hands, and this is saudades.
Deriving from the Latin word for “solitude”, some historians believe that this word was created by sailors and explorers in the 1500s who were leaving Portugal to colonize foreign lands. The extended time spent away from their homes and their loved ones were described in journals and archives as saudades because they had no way of knowing if they would ever see them again. Time keeps passing and things keep changing and even if they did make it back to Portugal one day, who is to say that their family would still be there waiting for them, for they have been living with saudades too. It was a time when more things were uncertain than certain and so a higher level of heartbreak and heartache was part of the diet. While this is an understandable origin, there is evidence of the word saudades used in “cancioneiros” or poems written in the 13th century. This confirms the depth of the feeling as not only restricted to the obvious yearnings for homeland, for family, for love, but allows for anything to be that trigger of melancholia. It could be your youth, a sled named Rosebud, a person who has disappeared from your life for any reason. It is a state that the Portuguese live with as part of their culture, and while painful, it also celebrates the joy you have experienced.
Because we were lucky enough to stumble across these Portuguese wines, we thought we would dive into the emotional subject of saudades as a way of understanding the essence of where they were produced. As this is an intensely personal subject, we will be sharing saudades of our own with you in this issue in an effort to open the door to you reflecting on your own. Allow these bottles to be that vessel that transports you to those memories and when the saudades hits you, say “obrigado” to the ache that is left behind, for it is there because you once felt joy.
There is a quality of experiencing time that is lost from my life.This quality is like that of a child sent out to play. Once outside, all I'm doing is playing, to infinity, until the next direction comes, which I am not expecting nor waiting for. I struggle putting words to the page as I try to conjure the specifics of this feeling. Alright, here's an example: When living in Brooklyn, every now and then I would take very long meandering bike rides or walks. I'd have no destination and no end time in mind. I'd bring nothing with me except a thermos of tea. I'd bring no wallet, no phone, no food, no money, no metrocard, nothing but a backpack with some hot yerba mate. I used to love the approach of this time. It was somewhat spontaneous. Maybe I'd realize the night before or the morning of, that I wanted to take a long slow walk or an endless meandering ride. Sometimes the decision was made simply by the weather: the amount of sunlight felt right, the general temperature seemed to line up with an internal mood. So I'd do a bit of yoga and then pick out the clothes to become an anonymous walker, brew some tea then step out onto the front stoop. I loved to dress in rags for these kinds of walks. Having clothes that felt less intentional aided the spirit of the drift.
There was one time I walked from my apartment on Linden Ave in Bushwick Brooklyn, over the Queensborough Bridge and up to the Cloisters on the north west side of Manhattan. There, I took a break on a brick wall overlooking the Hudson River and sipped my tea. Hours had already gone by, but there was still daylight. Then, I began to walk south and through Spanish Harlem. I clearly was not from the neighborhood. And here is where my clothing choices seemed to shield me from being seen as an outsider. I was beneath that. I looked like a drifter or traveler, harmless, without an agenda, just passing through. I eventually made it down to the south eastern edge of the island and started walking over the Williamsburg bridge. By now, it is very late, very dark, and most people have already arrived home for the night. My own home was still miles in front of me. Now, as I'm walking over the Williamsburg Bridge, I feel for the first time that I am heading towards something. It would still be quite some time until I got there, but I began to feel a sense of direction and intention in my footsteps. Midway over the bridge, I see a bicyclist riding the opposite way, towards me, towards Manhattan. We kind of run right into each other as we recognize each other. It's my old friend Patrick from my job as a server at Siggy's Good Food in Brooklyn Heights. I think he was heading into the city to go to a late night club. We both acknowledge the rarity of the moment. Bumping into friends in NYC does happen. When it does, it always feels a bit special. But this particular crossing of paths felt even more exceptional due to the time of night and the location. After celebrating the city and the beauty of our meeting, we kept going in our opposite directions. It was then I first noticed how tired my feet were, and how good it felt to be plodding over the bridge, knowing the end was now the goal.
The story of Fitapreta is both a new one as well as an old one. The estate that houses the winery was first established in the year 1306 in the Alentejo Region of Southern Portugal. As years went by and the ownership of the estate changed hands, construction on the estate seemed to bury some of the original buildings. These were only uncovered recently by Antonio Maçanita as he worked to establish Fitapreta. Once discovered, these lost architectural treasures were protected and expanded upon to make a modern winemaking facility that reflects the past in its style, and looks to the future in its technology.
Alentejo is a very large region in the south-eastern part of Portugal. There is a very sparse population there as the vast majority of the land is given over to agriculture. More than half of the world's wine corks come from Alentejo. While some of the farming practices throughout the land are quite intensive, Maçanita practices minimal intervention in the vineyards and cellar, using all organic practices, indigenous yeast fermentations, gravity fed racking, and low levels of sulfur at bottling. We present to you both his Tinto and Branco wines. Made from traditional grape varieties indigenous to the region, these are both excellent examples of the expressiveness of Alentejo terroir.
While wheat is the most important crop within the region, it is wine that is bringing the most attention to this part of Portugal. The Fitepreta wines are all dry farmed with minimal inputs. The vines dig deep for nourishment and water, leading to excellent levels of concentration in the grapes. There is plenty of sun, less rain, and a cooling influence from the Atlantic ocean which can help to balance the ripening time for these grapes. It is wines like these from Fitapreta that are helping to change the character of the Alentejo region. Known for some time to produce large quantities of bulk & affordable wines or relatively low quality, the Alentejo region has been able to bring in quality producers that can work with the indigenous varieties of the area and coax them into a more crafted and unique product. And when comparing the quality to other regions of the world making similar styles (Australia, California, South Africa), Portugal continues to offer excellent value.
FITAPRETA BRANCO, ANCESTRAL
Grapes: Roupeiro, Rabo de Ovelha, Arinto, Tamarez, Alicante Branco
Winemaker: Antônio Maçanita
40-50 Year Old Vines
Vine Altitude: 1,300 ft above sea level
Soil is Granitic
Organically farmed/Dry-Farmed/No Irrigation
10% of the wine aged in neutral oak barrels
Grapes: Aragonês, Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira, Castelâo
Winemaker: António Maçanita
40 Year Old Vines
Vine Altitude: 1,300ft ASL
Soil is rocky schist
Organic farming/Dry-Farmed/No irrigation
Hand Harvested at night
Indigenous Yeast fermentation
15 day maceration
50% of wine is aged in used French oak for 9 months
Eu tenho saudades de Boomerangs. This takes me back to a life, before a life, before the life I have now. This was my first life as an adult, spent in Boston from 2004- 2015. A place now covered in saudades and heart aches and reaches back for me for so many reasons. It is actually the place where I first learned the word “saudades” in 2007 from my second ever boyfriend, a Brazilian. He would say, “eu tenho saudades de você” when we were sleeping in our separate apartments. But it wasn’t until I moved from Boston, to New Jersey and then from New Jersey to Wisconsin that I first actually felt saudades- a truly painful and real longing, a knowing that you will never get it back because it is impossible to go back in time and it is impossible to keep things from changing- saudades. As I sift through people and memories and eras and try to discern “miss” from “yearning for” which doesn’t even describe saudades fully, Boomerangs floats up to the top of the memory foam as this place that encapsulates a people, a place, a time, and an age that allows me to feel saudades for all of them in one breath.
Boomerangs was, and is a thrift store in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. When I lived there, it was hosting a very exciting underground music and art scene in tandem with a small Latinx community and some first wave hippies. Boomerangs stood out from every Salvation Army and Goodwill because it screamed COOL from the outside. The fun name and font and the window display. It was always a truly inspiring work of art. The window display was also a spot to auction some of the most interesting donated items. A roommate of mine once won the entire VHS collection of Star Trek: Next Generation. The amount of tapes covered a good portion of a wall in our living room. And it brought us all together (10- 15 of us at any given time) on a nightly basis. One of my other roommates drove the delivery truck for Boomerangs for those larger furniture purchases. His brother worked at the counter. They played in a band together, until they broke up, and then formed great bands with other people. I got to ride in the delivery truck a few times to help my friend out moving a couch on the way to a show or just so we could chat or listen to the radio for a while together. I got to ride in the delivery truck on a couple special occasions when I had been the one to purchase something very heavy. I bought countless killer albums, the biggest and best find being The Three Degrees, which moved me so deeply that I decided to become a DJ (briefly). I bought books that I would save from a burning building, and endless cute outfits. I found myself walking in the door even when I had no money just to clear my head, or work through an idea, or try out some chairs, or run into a friend. The staff was crushable, and cool, and young, and punky. They sometimes looked mean, but were all truly sweet and often related, or dating, or in bands together. It was a family. They really understood the emotional attachments and personifications and energies of the items that found their way into Boomerangs. They understood saudades and how you could connect with something out of pain and love something out of longing for something else that you used to have or you never had, but you knew you needed. Boomerangs was entirely made up of items that had participated in the lives of others and all those tender, crucial, forgettable, necessary moments and then ended up there to do it all again. To become reincarnated with unknown traces of their past lives, kind of like how I feel now in Wisconsin. I am like the LP, or book, or end table, or leather jacket that has ended up here in Stevens Point and is trying to remember all the places I’ve been, and all the things I’ve done, as a new life is unfolding simultaneously. I am happy in the new life, with all the great new big things that can only exist here and now, but there is a piece of my heart that was left in my twenties, in Boomerangs hanging on the rack with all the short dresses.
Our aim is to give a glimpse into the many roles wine has played throughout history. All subjects mentioned deserve more attention and research and we encourage you to keep exploring. We are only here to pop the cork.
Many Thanks, Caravan Wine Shop