Friday, January 24, 2014

Tasting 2011 Vintage Port at Quinta da Boavista, Douro Valley, Portugal

Picture: The Group with the Winemakers at Quinta da Boavista

As part of a pre-conference trip (before the 2013 Digital Wine Communications Conference in Logroño, Rioja, Spain) up the Douro Valley, from Porto to the Upper Douro Valley, close to the Spanish border, I participated in a tasting of 2011 Vintage Ports at Quinta da Boavista, organized by Tony Smith, who had received us the evening before at Quinta da Covela.

Pictures: At Quinta da Boavista

4 Port producers participated in the tasting (and the luncheon that followed) and presented their 2011 Vintage Ports: Pocas Junior, Dona Matilde, Alves de Sousa and Quevedo.

The 2013 Digital Wine Communications Conference (DWCC) in Logroño, Rioja, Spain
Wining and Dining at the Reborn Quinta de Covela, Vinho Verde Region in the Douro Valley, with Owner Tony Smith and Winemaker Rui Cunha, Portugal

Picture: The 4 Vintage 2011 Ports


Port is produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is a sweet, red wine with an alcohol level of typically 20%. More than eighty different varieties of red and white grapes are permitted although in practice only seven are used on a regular basis. Port’s wine style was 'invented' by the British wine merchants for the British market in the 1600-1700s. They added brandy to the still wine to help preserve it on its trip by sea from Portugal to the British market. Typically, grapes are picked with about 13.5% - 14% potential alcohol and then fermented to about 7%, when brandy is added. This brings the fermentation to a halt, while retaining between 80 to 110 g/l of natural sugar in the wine.

Port is divided into different styles, according to different categories: Made from white or from red grapes; aged or not aged; if aged, aged in wood or aged in bottle. Whatever the style, the first two years of a Port wine are always in barrel.

Ruby Port is the basic red Port wine, a blend of several harvests that have been aged in large wooden vats (sometimes over 20,000 liter) for typically 2 years, before being bottled and ready to drink on release.

Bottle matured Ports spend a relatively short time (2 years) in the barrel and mature in the bottle for many years. These are the wines that have made Port one of the greatest wines of the world. Wines that have matured in sealed glass bottles, with no exposure to air, have experienced what is known as "reductive" aging. This process leads to the wine losing its color very slowly and produces a wine which is smoother on the palate and less tannic.

Vintage port is a bottle matured Port that is made entirely from the grapes of a declared vintage year. While it is by far the most renowned type of port, vintage Port actually makes up only a small percentage of production. Vintage Ports are aged in barrels for a maximum of two and a half years before bottling, and generally require another 10 to 30 years of aging. Because they are aged in barrels for only a short time, they retain their dark ruby color and fresh fruit flavors.

Barrel matured Ports experience what is known as "oxidative" aging, as the barrels allow some exposure to oxygen. Wood matured Ports are bottled when ready for drinking and are not intended for further ageing.

Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port is wine from a single specific harvest, the year being stated on the label, which has been aged in large barrels for between 4 and 6 years and then bottled for further aging. These are high quality ports from a single year that are not quite up to 'Vintage' standards. The best are not filtered and are capable of aging.

Tawnies are barrel matured ports: A blend of Ports aged in so-called pipes (port wine barrels) of 550 liters, using the Solera process, exposing them to gradual oxidation and evaporation. During this time they lose their deep, youthful ruby color and become pale and eventually “tawny". The extra ageing causes the wine to take on a red-brown color and develops a dry nutty flavor with raisin overtones. The stated age - usually 10, 20 or 40 years - is always the average age of the different components. The 10 and 20 year wines provide the best value and deliver the mellow elegance and complex fragrant bouquet so prized by port lovers. The Portuguese consider the 20 year Tawny the ultimate expression of the port making art.

The characteristics of tawnies differ from the other types, not only in color but also in aroma and flavor. They are generally softer, and have complex aromas with hints of nuts, spices, figs, etc.

Colheita is essentially a Tawny Port but made from a single specific harvest, unlike the Tawny which is a blend of several different years. The year of harvest will be stated on the label along with the year of bottling and a statement that the wine has been given extended ageing in wood. Colheitas are aged in the barrel for a minimum of seven years.

Garrafeira - These 'reserve' ports have a long tradition but are rare today. They are from a single vintage, aged a short time in cask and then aged in 5-10 liter glass demijohns for 20, 30 or 40 years from which they are decanted into 750 ml. bottles.

Single Quinta Port is Port made from a specific Quinta. Single Quinta Vintage Port is Port coming from a specific Quinta and made from a single specific harvest.

White Ports - Made from white grapes, mostly Malvasia. Usually served chilled as an aperitif, often with a twist of citrus fruit and/or a splash of tonic. A few see some wood aging.

We tasted 4 vintage ports (2011).

Pictures Tony Smith Introducing the Tasting

Poças Junior Vintage Port 2011

The wine was presented by Maria Manuel Maia, winemaker.

Founded in 1918 by Manoel Domingues Poças Junior, Poças today is one of the few remaining Port houses still owned by a Portuguese family. The winery was initially a producer of brandy used in the production of Port wine, however it eventually progressed on to produce its own ports, the first of which was in 1960. Today it is also famed for its outstanding production of Colheita ports (vintage tawny's) alongside its inimitable style of Vintage Ports.

A recent NYT article about Port named Poças a top favorite: "Among the smaller operations, some of my favorites include Niepoort, Poças, Quinta de la Rosa and Quinta do Vale Meão... 1994 Colheita, Poças. A deep and rich yet lively tawny that retains considerable fruit; from a great Port vintage. About $60.".

Pictures: Christian and Annette Schiller with Maria Manuel Maia

Dona Matilde Vintage Port 2011

The wine was presented by Filipe Barros, co-owner.

Dona Matilde is a family owned estate. With a total surface of 93 hectares, the quinta has 28 hectares of quality vineyards. Dona Matilde is among the oldest and most famous properties in the Douro. In the XVIII century the quinta was already part of the “vinhas de feitoria” – the small set of properties within the first wine demarcation of origin in the world, by the Marquis of Pombal. Dona Matilde has always had the reputation for good wines though being hard to work.

The property came to the Barros family in 1927. Manoel Moreira de Barros, the great wine entrepreneur who founded the Barros Wine Group, transformed the quinta by planting new vineyards, renovating the house and building extensive gardens, among other projects. He also renamed the property, Dona Matilde, after his wife.

Pictures: Annette and Christian Schiller with Filipe Barros

In 2006, the Barros family sold the Barros Wine Group, and with it Dona Matilde. Less than one year later, Manuel Angelo Barros, grandson of Manoel Moreira de Barros, managed to buy it back and decided to launch a new wine project with his sons Filipe and Nuno. The project is to produce and market top quality DOC Douro wine and Port.

Pictures: Annette and Christian Schiller with Filipe Barros

Doug House, Chain Bridge Wine Cellars in the USA (Washington DC/Northern Virignia): “Many of you have loved the family’s 2007 Vintage Port when we’ve offered it in the past, but importer Jonas Gustafsson and Filippe Barros agree with me that the 2011 is a substantial step up in quality and sophistication. The wine opens with lovely aromas of dried blackcurrant and raisin with a touch of leafy tobacco, wet stone minerality, and vanilla spice. The aromas carry through on the rich palate where nutty, spicy, undertones emerge and the sense of minerality gets stronger. As you’d hope for in a young Vintage Port, there’s very nice grip to the firm tannins and plenty of juicy, refreshing, acids to keep everything fresh and focused. The chewy tannins don’t get in the way of the long finish where the minerality and spice notes really shine. Try this now with walnuts and Stilton cheese or cellar it for as long as you’d like to.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and Filipe Barros

Filipe Barros is Manuel’s youngest son and the Sales and Marketing Director. Filipe has a Licenciatura in Business Administration from Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Oporto, a Post-Graduation in Marketing from Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Lisbon and a Masters in Business Administration from INSEAD in France and Singapore.

Alves de Sousa Vintage Port 2011

The wine was presented by Tiago Alves de Sousa and Domingos Alves de Sousa, both owners (son and father).

Three or four producers might claim to be the original table winemaking pioneers that are responsible for transforming a world of vinous mediocrity into the glorious realm of single Quinta dry table wines we know today in the Douro Valley: Miguel Champalimaud of Quinta do Cotto, Dirk Niepoort of Niepoort Vinhos, João Nicolau de Almeida of Ramos Pinto and, last but not least, Domingos Alves de Sousa, all key figures at the forefront of a Portuguese regeneration spanning two intensely experimental decades.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Tiago Alves de Sousa and Domingos Alves de Sousa

The Alves de Sousa family now owns six estates: Gaivosa, the original family property Quinta da Alveleira and Quintas das Caldas, Estação, Vale da Raposa and the newly acquired Quinta da Oliveirinha in the Cima Corgo opposite Quinta do Seixo

Domingos Alves de Sousa was born in 1949, at the family home of Quinta de Alveleira in the village of Medroes, the third generation of a family of winemakers. Growing up with Douro Port wine all around him, he was naturally expected to take on the running of the family estate. Domingos had other ideas and embarked upon a career of civil engineering. But when he was twenty his father suddenly became ill and he was compelled to help run the Quinta. This was the start of a new era at 
Alves de Sousa.

Born in 1979 in Oporto, at the age of seven, Tiago Alves de Sousa moved with his parents to the Douro valley and was educated in Vila Real, he says: "My father had given up his career as a civil engineer and moved back to the country to be close to the vineyards. I feel much more Douro than Oporto, I spent my formative years here and plan to keep it that way. Among my siblings, I am the one who was inclined to work on the land and with the vines, I saw winemaking as a potential career from a very early age. As a boy I grew up around winemaking, I witnessed the treading in the lagares and occasionally took part - of course, this was long before we began table wine production - I just grew into the world of wine."

Quevedo Vintage Port 2011

The wine was presented by Oscar Quevedo, co-owner.

The P.R. Grisley Company is a family owned wine importing business focused on high quality wines from niche markets in Europe. Our portfolio specializes primarily in wines from Spain, Portugal and France: “We first met Oscar Quevedo Jr. several years ago, and have kept in contact ever since with the intent of working with him and the amazing products he and his family are creating. Based in the village of San João da Pesqueira, a small town in the heart of Douro Valley, the Quevedo family has been dedicated to winemaking for over a century, but began producing wines under the Quevedo name in 1991.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and Oscar Quevedo

While Oscar Jr. focuses on the marketing and exporting part of the family business, his sister Claudia has been focusing on the winemaking for Quevedo since receiving her oenology degree in 1999. Whether it be one their amazing traditional ports such as a Colheita, or a newer cutting edge product such a Rose Port, the Quevedo family puts their heart and soul into every wine they make so that you may enjoy their wines just as much as they do. Quevedo fits in perfectly with our philosophy of working with small, family run wineries, and we are excited to bring you the amazing port wine from the Quevedo family!”

Oscar Quevedo: “Few weeks before staring the harvest back in 2011 we were quite confident that the grapes were in very good conditions to make something good. Then, when the grapes were already at the winery and fermenting, our expectations about an excellent vintage were slowly growing up. Then you start to feel a little nervous, a kind of butterflies in your stomach (right, the same as when fall in love) as the time goes. It is when you ask: did I made something special? Talk to other producers and they say the same, what they have is also very special. Winter arrives, temperatures go down, sediment too, and the Ports bravely resist maintaining colors and flavors. First check point passed and in with great stamina. And it doesn’t stop of getting better and better. As you start sharing your blend for the 2011 Vintage you see people smiling. More and more smiles. Got it approved by the Port Wine Institute, start to allocate the first cases, then more, and more up to the point that you have more than 50% sold and it is still not even bottled. Then more and more people want to taste, the press is also impressed by the quality of the 2011 Vintage Ports, up to the point that Jancis Robinson says this about the Douro “I believe it impossible to think of any other wine region anywhere in the world that has produced better wine in this year,” and then comes Wine Spectator to say this about our Quevedo 2011 Vintage Port:

Quite sweet on the nose, with luscious dark fruit, chocolate, ginger flavors that are complex and supported by an ironclad structure. Pure, offering a refined finish filled with white pepper notes. 96 points.

Lunch at Quinta da Boavista

Following the tasting, we had a superb lunch with the 4 Port producers, in the cellar of Quinta da Boavista.

Pictures: Lunch

schiller-wine: Related Posting

Meeting Up-and-coming Winemaker Rita Ferreira Marques from the Douro Area in Portugal at Screwtop Winebar in Clarendon, Virginia

Meeting Rupert Symington from the Symington Family - One of the Oldest Families of Port Producers

The 2013 Digital Wine Communications Conference (DWCC) in Logroño, Rioja, Spain

A Douro Valley Tour from Porto Upstream to the Upper Douro Region, Portugal

Food Tour of Porto with André Apolinário from Taste Porto Food Tours, Portugal

Wining and Dining at the Reborn Quinta de Covela, Vinho Verde Region in the Douro Valley, with Owner Tony Smith and Winemaker Rui Cunha, Portugal

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this Christian, it was great to meet you at Boavista!