Abel Mota was in his bedroom when he got a call from designer Eduardo Aires inviting him to design an Esporão label. Such was his surprise that all he could do was mumble “Okay, thank you.” Just 21 years old at the time and not even having finished his degree in painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Porto, he couldn’t imagine that his work would appear so soon alongside masters like Alberto Carneiro, Júlio Pomar, or Julião Sarmento. But age is merely a signpost for recognition and experience, and talent does not choose age.

Abel Mota is the youngest artist to ever design a label for the Esporão collection. His enormous talent and identity as an artist are now showcased on Esporão Reserva bottles. We accompanied the young artist through the process of designing the labels, on his journey through the subtle colours of Herdade do Esporão.
Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons at the estate, and it was just starting when Abel arrived with canvases, easels, and paints. With an innocent gaze that avidly took in every single detail, dressed in beige and a straw hat, he became an extension of a landscape bathed in browns, oranges and reds.
Without properly planning his day, he knew he wanted to seek out earthier tones to associate with the white grapes and redder and purple ones for the reds.  So he divided his workday into segments and times of day – morning and sunset. “My days started really early. I’d guess how many canvases I’d be working on that day, throw everything in the car, and set out looking for the right angle. Using wine tourism as a point of reference, I ranged around. I think I must have painted my way across the entire estate”.
The first day he started on the banks of the lake, with the view from the olive grove to the wineries, and then pressed on into the vineyards.  He spent his last few days on the terrace of the hotel garden, taking advantage of a broader perspective. “When I ventured into the vineyards, I started looking down and studying the ground. It wasn’t just the sky that changed depending on the time of day, the land did too. At sunset, it took on saturated shades of sienna and burgundy. From that point on, I kept looking down and I encountered an incredible palette of colours in the earth”.
As we rush through our working days, we rarely allow ourselves to pause to take in things like the sunset reflecting off the Esporão tower. This was just one of the things that Abel noticed when he first arrived, and it embarrassed us that we’d never noticed. “Throughout the day, a wealth of colours is reflected off the white of the tower, ranging from tones of pink, to red, to orange, purple, and to blue. The sunset happens in two places at once, and we normally only look at the most obvious one”.
Over the course of a week, the artist flitted from easel to easel in the midst of paints and brushes of a thousand colours, in a vast number of different scenarios, milking the last rays of sunshine. This invitation and the surroundings of Herdade do Esporão itself were good excuses to simply paint. There were no political, aesthetic or even narrative intentions behind this act – his goal was simply to be quiet, to be alone, and to paint. With silence comes calm, and in silence we can see more. Everything becomes more instinctive.

“All landscape painting is a good excuse to paint. It’s a happy sort of painting. There’s a pleasure to it. It’s like you see the land with different eyes. The landscape gives you time to notice things. And everything you see enriches the painting. I really enjoy this kind of painting, because I’m in the moment, a moment that’s going to end and that I have to take advantage of. I put everything onto that canvas. My paintings from this visit are proof that this was a good excuse to paint”.

Thirty completed canvases later, four paintings were selected to illustrate four wines of great importance in the story of Esporão. The painter can’t hide his sense of accomplishment. “I will take away nothing but positive experiences from this opportunity to collaborate with Esporão and to have my work in this collection. It’s an honour to stand alongside artists I admire so much and who influence my own work.  Having achieved this at the age of 22 makes me want to do even more. It’s very probable that in my whole life, I will never see a piece of my artwork reproduced as often as these will be. From the moment I finish a painting, it’s no longer mine. And now they’re going to belong to so many other people. Each of you will take what you need from each of them. I am happy, and proud”.
Abel was able to see further and he managed to see Herdade do Esporão like few others have. His perspective, although artistic, is not all that different from a person who makes a wine like Esporão Reserva White. When we look back at the latest harvest — that we’ve just released to the market — and then we look at his work, the strong relationship between Abel’s painting and the wine becomes immediately obvious. The label expresses all the beauty and the diversity of the place that’s created what is on the inside. The colours, the detail, the timelessness, and the richness might seem like an accident, but nothing is by chance. Neither in wine nor in art. And if Herdade do Esporão is a good excuse to paint, what better inspiration is there to make such matchless wines?

Esporão Reserva Branco 2021

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ABEL MOTA, Amares, 1999.

He attended the painting course at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto and the studio of Tim Eitel at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts in Paris, standing out in the first year with the Incentive Award and the Merit Award, as the best student of the Faculty.

Since 2017 he has participated in several artistic residencies, collective and individual exhibitions, both in Portugal and abroad.

Of note are the residencies in Chã das Caldeiras, Cape Verde (2018 –2021) and in Conceição das Crioulas, Brazil, in 2019 with the ID_CAI project – Identidades and at the Biennial of Art Encontrarte, where he has been a guest artist since 2017.

Also noteworthy are exhibitions at the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, Galeria Meng Tak Building, China (2019), at the Rectory of the University of Porto, Galeria Clube de Desenho, The Museum of FBAUP, at the XXI Cerveira International Art Biennial (2020) .
In 2021, he co-founds Associação Cultural O Bueiro, Porto, opening the space, in open-studio, with the exhibition “Desculpa, Mãe”.

That same year, he won the AJ award from the Millennium BCP Foundation.

Since 2019 he has collaborated on artistic projects with Estúdio Eduardo Aires (2019 and 2022).