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The new Douro: part 2
Quinta de la Rosa

This report is from 2004. See also: a more recent report on the wines of Quinta de la Rosa from 2011

I’d been slightly frustrated by the wines of Quinta de la Rosa for some time. The Quinta itself is beautifully situated in the Cima Corgo with fantastic vineyards, and proprietor Sophia Bergqvist (pictured right) is one of the nicest people you could meet, but the wines were just lacking something. They weren’t bad; they just weren’t as good as they should have been. It’s not an uncommon story in Portugal.

Since 2002, though, Jorge Moreira has been working as winemaker here, and now the results of his efforts are beginning to come to market. Jorge is establishing a reputation for himself as one of the best young winemakers in Portugal, and his own wine, Poeira, is fantastic. His influence on the wines of de la Rosa has been very positive: even the 2002s, which was a difficult vintage in the Douro, are very impressive. The 2003s, tasted here at an early stage in their development, look fantastic.

Elaborate stone-walled terraces at Quinta de la Rosa: without these the slopes would be impossibly steep; even with them, working these vineyards is a perilous operation

Jorge says of the 2002s, ‘It was a difficult year but these are very honest, frank wines. They show fruit straight away but have enough acidity to go with food’.

‘I’m very happy with 2002’, he concludes, ‘although during the vintage I wanted to run away and make wines in Australia’. 

De la Rosa is an estate consisting of 55 hectares of vineyards of differing elevation. 7 ha is at 100 m, 10 ha at 150 m and the rest between 250 and 450 m.

Vale de Clara White 2003
This wine was bought in so that there was some white to sell: it was originally intended to be a base for sparkling wine but was too ripe. It’s fresh, bright and fruity with a crisp limey edge. Very good+ 87

Vale de Clara Rosé 2003
A saignee (vat bleeding – a technique used to increase the ratio of skins to juice in red wine making) from the Vintage Port and reserve wines. Shows slightly sweet strawberry fruit on the nose. The palate is quite rich and vividly fruited. An appealing, rounded wine. Very good+ 86/100

Vale de Clara Red 2002
A mixture of bought in grapes and second wine. The nose shows lovely ripe, taut savoury fruit, leading to a chewy, savoury palate with nice structure to the approachable red berry fruit. Good acidity. Very good+ 88/100

Duorosa 2002
Dense, savoury, spicy nose with lots of red fruits. The palate is quite dense and savoury with vivid fruit and good acidity. Tasty stuff, with perhaps the tiniest bit of rusticity. Available in the UK from Waitrose for £6.99. Very good+ 88/100

Quinta de la Rosa 2002
Vivid, ripe savoury red fruits on the nose with a spicy edge. Lovely complexity, and a touch of tarriness. The palate is quite concentrated and displays inky, savoury, vivid spicy red fruit. Juicy, spicy and chewy. Great fruit quality here, a very nice effort. Very good/excellent 90/100

Quinta de la Rosa 2002 Reserva
Because of the difficult vintage just 1000 bottles of this were made. Fantastic nose: vivid and intense with savaoury, spicy berry fruits. Complex and deep without being flashy or showy. The palate shows a good concentration of supple savoury, spicy fruit with a dusty overlay to the tannic structure. Good acidity. A delicious wine. Very good/excellent 92/100

The higher vineyards on the estate are terraced the modern way, with Patamares. These are wide terraces bulldozed into the hillside with enough room for two rows; a tractor can be driven down the middle if needed.

I also tried a few barrel samples of 2003, which looks like a very exciting vintage.

Sample 1 North-facing vineyard
Vivid, intense spicy nose. The palate has high acidity and lovely vivid fruit. Elegant.

Sample 2 South-facing vineyard, Seguin Moreau barrel
Very rich, ripe and intense with lots of pretty, liquoricey ripe fruit. Spicy balsamic character gives freshness: this is firmly structured and quite exciting, but weighs in at 15% alcohol.

Sample 3 Touriga Nacional
Knockout nose is vivid and perfumed with violet-like fruit. Great elegance and balance on the palate: a powerful, tannic wine, but a balanced one. Distinctive.  

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