Quite bombastic on the nose. Dark plum, licorice and ripe blackberry explode from the glass. The same flavours replay on the palate, along with sweet vanilla and spice box notes. There are fine grained tannins and a good spine of acidity. There is some brambly, “rusticity” to this vintage, but the pure driving Duoro fruit ensures that stays as a layer of complexity, not the dominant feature. This is drinking beautifully now, with tannins that scream for roasted red meats or lamb chops, but would age gracefully for a decade or more with ease.
A blend of primarily Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional with very small amounts of Tinta Barroca and Fernão Pires. Touriga Franca is the most widely planted grape in the Douro Valley and, along with Touriga Nacional, is considered among the finest of all Port grapes. It exhibits abundant aromatics and fruit character. Touriga Nacional, the king of Port grapes, is also gaining notoriety for its ability to create full-flavoured, firmly structured red wines. Its small berries result in hugely tannic wines that have an unrivaled ability to age.
Named after the river which runs throughout the Iberian peninsula before entering the Atlantic Ocean, the Douro region is best known for producing the fortified wine, Port. The past few decades have seen an uptick in the quantity and quality of unfortified wines, usually falling under the DOC Douro designation. The region’s vast array of native grapes are the ingredients for both Port and their unfortified counterparts, most notably Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) for reds, and Gouveio, Rabigato, Malvasia Fina and Viosinho for whites. The climate here is hot and dry, with steep terraced vineyards combining to produce extremely ripe grapes and subsequently full-flavoured, high alcohol wines.
Vines are planted at an elevation of between 250 and 400 meters above sea level in schist-based soils. Vine age is between 15 and 19 years old. Vines per hectare is 4,500 and training is done via single and double cordon and guyot methods. Grapes are harvested by hand.
Hand harvested in the morning to ensure the grapes stayed cool. Hand-sorted and destemmed at the winery, they were fermented via wild yeasts in a combination of granite and stainless steel. Following primary fermentation, the wine goes through malolactic conversion in stainless steel tanks and older French barriques and Hogsheads. Further matured sur lie for 18 months prior to bottling.
In the heart of the Douro Valley’s Cima Corgo sub-region, you’ll find a winery that strikes a fine balance between tradition and modernity, elegantly showcasing the exciting breadth of offerings coming out of Portugal these days. Quinta da Pedra Alta is the long-time dream-come-true of a small group of family and friends from the United Kingdom, who purchased the historic property in 2018. Their 35 hectares of steep, terraced vineyards are the archetype Douro landscape, dramatically rising from the eponymous river that meanders through northern Portugal. Only indigenous, Portuguese grapes are planted on poor, schist-based soils, namely Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinto Roriz for reds and Gouveio, Rabigato and Viosinho for whites. The winemaking is led by two young and dynamic individuals, Joao Pires from Portugal and Matt Gant from Australia. As is tradition in the area, all wines are blends and grapes are crushed via foot treading in granite lagares. Only wild yeasts are used in fermentation and oak aging is measured. Pedra Alta wines are at once powerful and refined, offering up loads of Douro Valley warmth alongside Old World structure and sophistication.