Quinta-ssential Quality - Down the Douro
All the major Port producers have vineyard holdings called quintas, especially in the upper reaches of the Douro River, about 125 km inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Not only is Real Companhia Velha Portugal’s oldest and largest port producer, they also produce table wines from their extensive holdings of prime vineyard land along the steep and winding slopes of the Douro. This gives them a phenomenal choice of the very best parcels to allocate for their red table wine production. Many of them, quite old, are planted with the “usual suspects” of grapes, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (a.k.a. Tempranillo), Touriga Franca and Tinta Barroca. Hot, hot, hot is the climate with stifling temperatures in summer. Steep, steep, steep are the rugged slopes where most of the vines are planted on neat terraces. Some of the old stone-walled terraces have actually been preserved in order for the region to keep its UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Soil is almost non-existent on the steep hillsides which is why walls were built. Newer terraces can now be worked by tractor as a result of vineyard rationalization that took place in the 1970’s and 1980’s due to the dwindling labor force. The reduction of Port wine output has proven to be a benefit to the production of dry red table wines using the very same high quality grape varieties. One of the region’s best quintas is the Quinta dos Aciprestes. It extends for over 2 kilometres on the left bank of the Douro river facing the tributary Tua river. The Quinta is easily identified by the large cypress trees, located around the estate’s mansion. The quinta is characterized by the planting of vines in vertical rows highlighting the absence of the traditional terraces, the result of the recent reconversion that took place in the vineyard. A rich wine, dense with young tannins plus barrique aging in quality oak has given the wine a smooth, approachable texture balancing the fruit and structure. At almost six years of age, it’s very approachable, but a few more years rest wouldn’t harm it. Wine Enthusiast Magazine gave it 92 points. Enjoy with lamb chops grilled on the BBQ. Pick up a bottle or two (or more) this weekend, as you browse your local LCBO Vintages section.
2017 Quinta dos Aciprestes Douro #703561, $19.95.