Revitalizing an old family vineyard and 100 year old port, Quinta da Manuela

Apr 16, 12 Revitalizing an old family vineyard and 100 year old port, Quinta da Manuela

Posted by in Portugal, Travel

Bouncing along the dirt road, we slowly wound our way up and down the hills of the Douro Valley to get to Jorge Serodio Borges newest project in the Vale de Mendiz, the revitalization of Quinta da Maneula. Jorge is the winemaker for Quinta Passadouro but alongside that he also runs Wine & Sol with his wife, Sandra Tavares, wine maker for Quinta do Vale d. Maria. They make the Pintas label red wines and the fabulous white wine, Guru, which I had sampled earlier in the year at the annual Essencia do Vinho event in Porto, Portugal. Quinta da Manuela, though, is a family project. Jorge inherited the quinta and set out to discover what he could do with the vines. The vineyard consists of 14 hectares but the vines are 80 to 100 years old and they are producing a Vielles Vignes red wine, only 3,000 bottles are produced a year and we were able to try the latest vintage, the rechristened Quinta da Manoella 2009 VV. It is a  field blend, which is commonly found in old Portuguese vineyards. Jorge explained that field blends were the norm many years ago because of disease. The growers just planted as much and as many as they could in the hopes that something would survive to be harvested and made into wine. He estimates that there could be up to 30 different varieties in the blend. The wine was impressive, concentrated and complex, very aromatic with and intense nose of black fruit and licorice. Finely balanced, a fresh and elegant wine with finesse. It is fantastic what Jorge and Sandra have coaxed from the old vines. As we drove up to the old warehouse, Jorge pointed out abandoned one family houses/wineries that littered the valley slopes. In the past, it had been the custom to attach a small winery to the family house. We stopped at one to see the tiny moss and leaf covered lagars that had almost been overtaken by the forest....

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Tawny port and orange slices

Apr 13, 12 Tawny port and orange slices

Posted by in Food and Wine, Portugal, Travel, Videos

I never know what interesting food and wine combinations I’m going to come across but one of the more unlikely pairings, to me anyway, was 10 yr old tawny port and fresh orange slices.  They was presented as dessert at lunch while we were visiting Quinta da Gaviosa in the Douro Valley. I was in the Douro with Discover the Origin to well, discover the wines of the Douro (ok, I guess I was discovering the origins, didn’t want to be too obvious there – #fail). Anyway, we had wound our way through the rather steep hills of the Douro to visit the father/son wine making team of Domingo and Tiago Alves de Sousa of Quinta da Gaivosa. Unfortunately, as so often happens on press trips, we were running late and so Domingo had to rush off to Porto for a wine maker’s dinner. Tiago however, was able to stay and give us a grand tour of their vineyards and explain a bit about the land. Quinta da Gaivosa’s vines are perched high on the steep  hillsides and many of the vines are over 80 years old. It’s this longevity that gives their wines such concentration. I shot a short video of Tiago explaining the soil and climate of the region. Some of you may have seen it already as I inadvertently posted it as a stand alone video here last week: Many of the vines at Quinta da Gaivosa are as I mentioned over 80 years old and there is one vineyard in particular that Tiago is not even sure how old it is,  he thinks it’s over 100 years old but no one is sure as it was an abandonded vineyard. Tiago discovered it one day and decided to see what the vines would supply. We took a drive up to the top of the hill where the abandoned vines were and he has left it much as he found it. There are big gaps between the gnarled, stubby vine trunks and...

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Scary fish and Churchill’s port & wines

Apr 11, 12 Scary fish and Churchill’s port & wines

Posted by in Food and Wine, Portugal, Travel

EEEEKKKKKK! That is one scary looking fish. I bet you’re wondering what exactly it has to do with wine. Well, that is what greeted me after my tour of the cellars of Churchill’s Port’s new visitor centre and lodge in Gaia, Portugal. It’s not some mutant fished out of a polluted river in South East Asia, it was actually our dinner. And a very tasty dinner it was. The salmon (yes, that’s what it is) had been smoked for hours in a old port wine barrel before being plated up and left to scare me upon emerging from the cellars. Despite it’s appearance, it was delicious, having an intensely salmon flavour without the oiliness that so often accompanies smoked salmon. The flesh was flaky and dry but not dried out – served with a mustard dill sauce, it was divine and paired with Churchill’s table rosè wine, a perfect way to end a Friday. Churchill’s Port was my last stop on a 4 day trip to the Douro Valley and Porto, Portugal with Discover the Origin. DTO’s mission is to introduce us to the lesser known but still amazing food and wine regions of Europe, the Douro Valley and port wine being one of the areas on their list. The very charming Johnny Graham, founder of Churchill’s, was our host and happily led us through a tasting of not only Churchill’s port wines but also the line of table wines that they are now producing. Churchill’s is a young port house, founded only 30 years ago after Graham’s was bought out by a big conglomeration. Johnny found that he couldn’t use his surname but he could use his wife’s to found his own port wine house. The new visitor centre and tasting room we were visiting is situated overlooking the Douro River in Gaia and is where Churchill’s currently ages their ports. Speaking to Johnny though, he told us that they are currently in the process of building a new winery in the Douro...

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