Thursday, March 6, 2014
Tour and Lunch at Quinta da Léda in the Upper Douro Valley, with Winemaker Luís Sottomayor, Portugal
This was an amazing tour. Starting in Porto, we travelled up the Douro Valley and into Spain. We spent 2 nights in Porto, 1 night in the Vinho Verde region and 1 night in the Upper Douro Valley, close to the Spanish border. We enjoyed 4 very special winemaker dinners and 3 outstanding tastings in Portugal. The tour was a sponsored pre-conference trip of the 2013 Digitale Wine Communications Conference in Logroño, Rioja, Spain: The 2013 Digital Wine Communications Conference (DWCC) in Logroño, Rioja, Spain
Our last stop in the Douro Valley was a visit and lunch at Quinta da Léda in the Douro Superior which is the most eastern of the three Douro Valley sub-regions and closest to Portugal’s border with Spain. Quinta da Léda is owned by Sographe Vinhos.
We were received by star winemaker Luís Sottomayor and his colleagues.
The Sographe Vinhos Group
Sogrape Vinhos is a family-run company – third generation - with a strong focus on exports and international markets. Sogrape Vinhos owns more than 830 hectares of vineyards in Portugal.
What immediately stands out is the presence of two major global Portuguese wine brands - Mateus Rosé and Sandeman as well as the prestigious wines of Porto Ferreira and Offley. Added to which are the renowned specialist brands that represent the major Portugese wine regions. Beginning with the most famous Portuguese wine of all, Barca Velha, the pride of Casa Ferreirinha (Douro) and continuing with the elegant wines of Quinta dos Carvalhais (Dão), the vibrant Herdade do Peso (Alentejo), the fresh Vinhos Verdes of Quinta de Azevedo and Gazela, and the multi-regional Grão Vasco, to name but a few.
Quinta da Leda
Luís Sottomayor: Located to the east of the Douro, Quinta da Leda is one of jewels in Ferreira's crown. With it, Casa Ferreirinha has reinvented itself with wines of great complexity and structure, full of promise with freshness and vigor. This is the same area that produces the excellent wines to create the legendary Barca Velha. The vineyard area totals 76 hectares.
The Quinta da Leda winery, built in 2001, is exemplary in that it follows an approach that allows the winemaker direct contact with the wine. The grapes are received on the uppermost level and gravity is used to move the grapes, ensuring a far more natural flow, with noted gains in wine quality.
Robyn Bancroft (who has written about the event on her Blog nnnnnn): Upon our arrival, we were served a sparkling wine and some nibbly-bits…
The quinta or winery facility is built into a hillside. The architect took advantage of the topography, so that gravity could feed the grapes from the surface collection hoppers down a series of floors to stainless steel storage containers for final shipping and storage off-site. After harvesting, trucks hauling carts full of grapes pull under a type of open, but covered car-port area where the grapes are dumped into a collection hopper and then gravity fed into vats for punch-over processing or stompers for punch-down processing.
We took a flight of stairs down one level to take a look at these two different processing methods. The punch-down process is more violent and cannot be used when the grape skins are thin due to the mechanical arms which “stomp” down the grapes. The day we were visiting, the grapes being handled were thin-skinned due to a season filled with lots of rain, so the punch-over process was demonstrated. A type of wine “sprinkler” system was turned on that pumped grape juice from the bottom of the vats and sprayed it out on top. The grape skins float to the top during this punch-over process resulting in a much more gentle way of separating or extracting liquid from the grapes. The winemakers use presses to squeeze out the remnants of the grapes to collect the last bit of wine. This most-concentrated wine is placed in barrels and used like salt and pepper for final flavoring and seasoning…
Our tour continued on down another flight of stairs to the next area so that the workers could get back to filling the punch-over vats. The pumps were super loud and filled the whole building like a busy manufacturing plant… The whole space was open, so we could see the quinta’s activities on all three floors.
Our tour ended at the bottom level of the quinta with a lovely lunch served right beneath all the wine-making activity we had just witnessed. We were greeted with large cups of warm pumpkin soup. Above us, were the bottoms of the stainless steel vats with spouts ready for efficient conveyance directly into trucks for their transport to cooler storage locations off-site which were much more conducive to quality winemaking and final bottling. A long table was elegantly laid out for us to enjoy traditional Portuguese foods.
The Wines we Drank
Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande Rosé 2012
Vinha Grande Rosé is Casa Ferreirinha´s most recent launch, a wine characterised by a combnation between a fine aromatic intensity and a remarkable acidity that provides it with an extraordinary elegance. Vinha Grande Rosé displays the full potential of the Douro region in the making of high-quality rosés.
Casa Ferreirinha 2010 Callabriga Douro
Tasting Notes: Casa Ferreirinha Callabriga 2010 has a deep ruby hue. It has an intense and complex bouquet with a prevalence of ripe red fruits (blackcurrant and strawberry), black fruits (plum) and floral notes of rock-rose. Spicy aromas (pepper and curry) are also present, due to the oak maturation. Excellent quality oak notes are very well integrated. The palate has a fine body, fine-quality tannins, a well-integrated acidity, a strong presence of red fruits and warm spicy notes. It has a long and complex finish.
Casa Ferreirinha Planalto Reserva 2012
Tasting Notes: Casa Ferreirinha Planalto White Reserva 2012 has a bright hue with greenish hints and a finely intense and complex bouquet, with a prevalence of white fruits (melon and pear), tropical fruits (apricot and passionfruit) and slight mineral notes. On the palate, it shows great harmony and fine balanced acidity, with mineral and citrus flavours again in evidence. It has a long and delicate finish.
About Luís Sottomayor
When in 1989 he entered the winemaking team led by master Fernando Nicolau de Almeida, Luis Sottomayor knew he was in the right company to take part in making the finest wines of the Douro. Today, his skills recognized and the quality of his work proven, he heads the Œnology team for Casa Ferreirinha and all Sogrape Port Wine brands, a responsibility he assumed in January 2003.
Although Luís Sottomayor’s career trajectory has afforded him enriching experiences in several other national and international wine-growing regions, his commitment to Douro and Port Wines is unquestionable and had so far seen him awarded the 2010 Winemaker of the Year Award in the Fortified Wines category by Revista de Vinhos, one of the nation’s most prestigious wine publications. In 2012 he was nominated for the Winemaker of the Year accolade at the International Wine Challenge and eventually went on to receive yet another distinction from Revista de Vinhos, this time for outright 2012 Winemaker of the Year.
Author of world-famous wines such as Barca Velha and Quinta da Leda, and of the outstanding 2011 Vintages presented by both Ferreira and Sandeman, Luis expresses great pride in the opportunity he has been given to perpetuate a story without parallel in the world of wines, whilst highlighting the creativity and daring and of those who first set out, unaided by the technological advances of today, to produce wines of a time-defying excellence.
Born in Moreira da Maia, married and a father of three children, Luís Sottomayor has a full academic training that includes courses in œnology from the University of Dijon in Burgundy, France and Charles Sturt University, Australia, in addition to a post-graduate course in Œnology at the Escola Superior de Biotecnologia from Universidade Católica do Porto.
Arguing that the secret of great wines rests on the passion of those who write their history in the vineyards and cellars, Luís likes to emphasize the effort made at Sogrape Vinhos to preserve and enhance the legacy inherited from large and prestigious brands, by combining the values of tradition with emerging desires and trends for the future.
An avowed football supporter, Luís Sottomayor devotes some of his leisure time to rugby, horse-riding and hunting.
Thank you Luis and your colleagues for an extraordinary event.
schiller-wine: Related Posting
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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
Tasting 2011 Vintage Port at Quinta da Boavista, Douro Valley, Portugal