Quinta Nova de Nosso Senhora do Carmo   
An important new producer of Douro table wines

Website: www.quintanova.com

This sizeable Quinta is beautifully situated, a short way upstream of Quinta do Crasto in the Cima Corgo region of the Douro. Itís owned by Amorim (the well known cork company), who acquired it when they bought Port house Burmester (which they have since sold on). The first table wines from the estate vineyards were released in 2005.


The view downstream from the Quinta: Crasto is on the hill sticking out into the Douro

The Quinta gets its name from the patron saint of the 17th century riverside chapel on the property, where the crews of the Rabelo boats would pray for protection on this, which before the Douro was dammed would have been quite a dangerous stretch of the river. The chapel contains within it a statue of Nosso Senhora, which apparently is so heavy (despite its small size) that it takes a few strong men to lift it.


The riverside chapel 

As well as being a fully working wine estate, Quinta Nova is also a very stylish, authentically Portuguese hotel, and there are several walking trails around the property for guests to make use of.

There are 85 hectares of vines on the 120 hectare property, looked after by viticulturalist Ana Mota, who took us on a tour round the estate. Some of them are newer plantings, but there are also plenty of old vines. All the wines are made from this estate, with the exception of the whites: the highest spot on the estate is 287 metres, which means that there arenít any spots cool enough for whites to do well.


One of the Marquis de Pombal's standing stones dating from 1758; the Quinta is in the background

When Amorim took over the estate in 1999, there were 36 hectares of vines, including 7 hectares of 80 year old vines. Now, one-quarter of the plantings on the estate are Touriga Nacional. Interestingly, Ana points out that Touriga Franca is the most planted variety in the region. Itís a highly terroir-dependent variety, capable of making very perfumed wines, but it can be difficult to ripen. Here itís fantastic, going head-to-head with Touriga Nacional when blends are selected.


Schist 

Amorim also own a quinta in the Douro Superior, up at Barca Alva, on the border with Spain. It is currently a 200 hectare olive farm, but they plan to begin planting 20 hectares of vines this year when the nesting season has ended in June.


Luisa Amorim

After the vineyard tour we met with Luisa Amorim, who is in charge of the Quinta, daughter of Americo Amorim and cousin of Antůnio Amorim who heads up the Amorim cork division. We also met with Francesco Montenegro (winemaking consultant, spending 3 days a week here, below right) and Pedro Pina (resident winemaker, below left).

Francisco thinks that itís really with the 2008 and 2009 harvests that the hard work put in here is beginning to show. 2005 was just the first vintage; 2006 was a difficult vintage for everyone in the Douro. Quality was on the up with 2007, which was a very good vintage, but 2008 and 2009 look even more promising.

The range of wines has a number of tiers. At the bottom, there are the Pomares wines with newly redesigned labels: these are deliciously fresh, fruit-driven wines. Then there are the Grainha wines, which begin to get quite serious. Finally, the Quinta wines, including a new icon wine that is as yet unnamed.

THE WINES

Pomares Branco 2009
A blend of Viosinho, Gouveio and Rabigato. Bright and fruity with real precision. A fresh, citrusy, mineral white with grapefruit notes and good acidity. Fantastic freshness and personality. 89/100 (UK retail c. £8.50)

Pomares Tinto 2008
Lovely focused dark fruits nose of cherries, berries and plums. The palate is bright, fresh and precise with lovely presence and some nice grippy structure. Good acidity, with a hint of meatiness on the finish. 90/100 (UK retail c. £8.50)

Grainha Branco 2008
A blend of Viosinho, Gouveio and oak-fermented Rabigato. Nutty, bold and quite intense with some minerality. Taut with melony fruit and nuttiness, finishing fresh, with potential for further development. 90/100

Grainha Tinto 2007
Fresh and focused with sweet, pure dark cherry and berry fruits on the nose. The palate is fresh with nice bright cherry and plum fruit and a bit of spicy structure. Nicely integrated oak. It needs some time to open out fully. 91/100

Grainha Tinto 2008 (cask sample)
Lovely sweet focused dark cherry/berry fruit nose. Vibrant fruit on the palate with some spiciness. A delicious fruit-driven style. 90Ė92/100

Quinta Nova Colheita Tinto 2008
An unoaked cuvťe. Spicy and chocolatey with a slightly balsamic edge to the ripe blackberry and berry fruits. The palate is ripe, dense and sweetly fruited with some spiciness and chocolatey richness. Very attractive. 89/100

Quinta Nova Reserva 2007
A selection with lots of Tinta Amarela and almost no Touriga Nacional. Highly aromatic nose with lovely complex spiciness and some warmth, dominated by sweet blackberry and cherry fruit. The palate is fresh and focused with nice acidity supporting the bright, fresh berry fruit. Firm but nicely judged tannins provide structure. 92/100

Quinta Nova Grande Reserva 2007
15% alcohol. This has old vines and more Touriga Nacional. Very refined and perfumed with spice, dark chocolate and lots of blackberry and dark cherry fruit, as well as a hint of meatiness. The palate is beautifully complex and spicy, showing expressive, rich fruit and well integrated oak. Powerful, ripe and rich, yet still in balance. 94/100

Quinta Nova Touriga Nacional 2007
15% alcohol. Very aromatic, perfumed nose: floral with some blackberry and dark cherry fruit. The palate is beautifully expressive with lovely fresh dark fruits. Very expressive with some grippy tannin on the finish. Ripe and lush but not at all jammy. 94/100

The as yet unnamed icon wine, 2008 (cask sample)
Old vines, and almost no Touriga Nacional. Very sweet nose is floral with ripe, slightly jammy fruit. Smells remarkably like a young Vintage Port! The palate has amazing depth and concentration, with sweet lush fruit and lovely purity. Very striking. Will be bottled in June 2010.

We then tried a range of 2009 cask samples, which were all quite different, yet all of very high quality: 2009 here seems to be a very successful vintage, even if it was quite difficult for many other Douro producers because of the hot, dry conditions and lack of rain in late summer.

PORTS

Quinta Nova Reserve Porto
50 cl bottle. Lovely, vibrant, fruit focused and with nice tannins. Deliciously rich with lovely fresh fruit. Sealed with a driven cork, which is a nice touch. 89/100

Quinta Nova LBV 2005
Vibrant, spicy and intense with firm structure. This is dense and tight with fresh acidity and lovely focused dark fruits. Lovely tannic structure on the finish. 92/100

Quinta Nova Vintage Port 2007
Concentrated, smooth, sweet plum, cherry and blackberry fruit. Focused with nice freshness and some spicy notes. Not a big, dark-fruited style but it has lovely tannic structure. 93/100

Quinta Nova Vintage Port 2008 (cask sample)
Very focused and intense with fresh dark fruits. Jammy and rich, but still fresh. Bold with amazing concentration and purity: a serious effort. 93Ė95/100

See also:

The new Douro (series)

Wines tasted as 03/10  
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