In the Douro (4) Vallado

quinta do vallado

Our final day in the Douro Valley began at Quinta do Vallado. As well as being a very good wine estate, Vallado also have one of the best hotels in the Douro. [We had stayed there the previous evening.]

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Located in the Baixo Corgo, the first of the three subregions that you reach when you’ve come from Porto, Vallado was once owned by the famous Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, and is still in the hands of her descendants.

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In the early 1990s Vallado decided to go the table wine route, and began restructuring their vineyards. When I visited for the first time in 2002, this was stilla work in progress. Since then a new winery has been built (in 2009), and these days the wines are really solid, with some highlights.

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Of late, they’ve been doing really well with their whites (very fresh and linear), and I also really like the basic Tinto, of which 250 000 bottles are made annually. Varietal Touriga Nacional (floral and pretty) and Sousao (deeply coloured, dense and yet fresh) are very successful here, but it’s probably the refined Reserva Field Blend, from the 10 hectares of old vines on the property, that impresses the most.

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Francisco Ferreira

Francisco Ferreira

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This year there is a new wine. It’s the Vinha da Coroa 2013, made from a north-facing section of the old vine block which never really did well in the past. So Vallado have made it differently: 50% whole bunch, 50% whole berry, with no punching down and just a minimal pump over for 2 minutes a day. The result is a very elegant, natural tasting wine, with a peppery finish.

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One of Vallado’s specialities is tawny ports, and we tried two very special ones: a 40 year old, and a 70 year old. The former was a complete, balanced, ethereal wine; the latter just so intense and almost savoury with mind-blowing complexity.

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As well as tasting wines, we journeyed up to the top of the property in the venerable old yellow Land Rover, which I think must date from the 1950s. It got us there and back, just. The views were fabulous – after all, this is the Douro.

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