Quinta da Ervamoira in the Douro Superior is one of the two Ramos Pinto properties that goes into making Duas Quintas, one of the Portugal’s best known and most reliable reds. Now, after thirty years in partnership with Quinta de Bons Ares, it is out on its own.
Such is the importance of wine at Arruda, a town north of Lisbon, that it has the epithet ‘dos Vinhos’ in its title. It gained fame in the 1980s and 1990s due to its large co-operative which produced large quantities of tolerably good red wine that ended up on the shelves of British supermarkets.
Quinta do Noval, one of the most iconic Port wine estates in the Douro, began making unfortified Douro wines in 2004. In the words of Christian Seely, Managing Director of Noval and AXA Millésimes, it has been ‘a steep learning curve’.
Kopke, Winemker’s Collection, Folgazão & Rabigato, Grande Reserva Douro, 2016 ****
Nearly two decades have elapsed since the Symington family launched their first Douro wines. With a number of established Port companies, some dating dating back to the 17th Century, it was a big step to add a completely new division in the late 1990s. At the time Douro wines were relatively new.
Prats & Symington Update
Billed as a ‘Discovery Tasting’ this is a line up of wines from 1997, the first Douro red from Quinta da Leda, through a number of landmark years to the present day. It charts the evolution and Leda and the wines and mirrors many of the changes in the Douro over the last twenty years.
Prats & Symington (P&S) is a joint venture that began in 1999 when Bruno Prats, former owner of Chateau Cos d’Estournel, joined forces with Symington Family Estates to produce a top Douro wine.
This wine is as rare as hen's teeth and I have only tasted it on one previous occasion (in 1998). It was served blind at a restaurant in Denmark and I was astounded when the bottle was revealed. I went back to my 1998 note and was pleased to see that it is very little different from the note below. It is clearly evolving very slowly.
I have just heard that I have been shortlisted for The Louis Roederer International Wine Writer's Award 2014 - Features Category - for a series of articles the I wrote over the last two years for The World of Fine Wine magazine.
After AXA Millesimes purchased Quinta do Noval in a run down state 1993 they replanted around half the vineyard.
This is a new association of Bairrada producers with one thing in common: they are passionate about the Baga grape. Baga is a variety that is grown throughout central Portugal but its purest expression is on the clay soils of Bairrada where it is by far the most dominant grape.
Pintas/Wine & Soul
At the very end of vintage I spent a day in the Douro with Jancis Robinson, tasting wines from some of the leading producers in the Cima Corgo.
It is spring in the Serra. I heard the first cuckoo today. After a long, cold wet spring (there was snow in the Serra da Estrela as late as last weekend) we finally have some summer warmth with temperatures rising into the mid-20s.
The silence on my website has been deafening over the past few weeks, at least to me. I have been busy finishing the third edition of my book Port and the Douro which is due to be published in the autumn. With nearly all the i's dotted and t's crossed I can go back to posting tasting notes on my website.
Colares 2005, Manuel José Colares, Fundação Oriente *** / ****
Herdade do Gamito 2007 Reserva. ****
Quinta do Noval’s red wine project (in its present guise) began in 1996, three years after the estate was bought by AXA Millesimes.
The Douro is currently one of the most exciting wine regions in Europe as producers, large and small, reinvent themselves to make an ever wider range of unfortified Douro wines.
Tiara 2008 *** / ****
First produced in 2008 this is billed by Dirk Niepoort the Douro's answer to Riesling. Made mostly from the Codega grape (old vines), 80% in stainless steel, 20% in old oak. Very minerally, fragrant, no oak evident with good (sub tropical) weight and balance. Restrained. 16.5
Quinta do Vesúvio 2007, Douro ****
Every year ViniPortugal (Portugal's generic wine marketing body) asks a UK journalist to select their top fifty Portuguese wines. I was privilaged to be the first to be asked to make the selection back in 2005 and, with the steady improvement in Portuguese wine making, the selection has become more difficult to undertake. This is soemthing that
It started as a cellar clearout, a post-Christmas stock take. I found that I had lots of individual bottles of mature Portuguese wines, mostly reds that I had collected on my travels over the years.
19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)
17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)
15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)
13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)
10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)
8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)
Below 8 Faulty