In the Douro: Vallado

Francisco Ferreira

Francisco Ferreira

After visiting Vallado’s property in the Douro Superior earlier in the week, it was time to visit the original Quinta, which is on the border of the Baixo and Cima Corgo subregions. Vallado has some lovely old vineyards, and we tasted the whites at the top of the hill with Francisco Ferreira, winemaker and co-owner. Francisco started here when he was in his mid-20s, and together with his cousin João Ribeiro, has done a great job in developing the Vallado table wine portfolio, with some consulting help from Xito Olazabal of Vale Meão.

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Both Francisco and João are direct descendants of the famous Dona Antonio Adelaide Ferreira: they’re the sixth generation.

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The basic Vallado red is a really good value introduction to the Douro. We tried a couple of vintages.

Vallado Tinto 2011 Douro, Portugal
80% young vineyards, 20% 70 year old. About half Touriga Franca in this blend. 200 000 bottles. Sweet, fresh raspberry jam nose with some black cherry. Perfumed and attractive. Lovely fresh black fruits palate with a bit of grip. Really attractive and balanced, and amazing considering that this sells in Portugal for 7.5€. 89/100

Vallado Tinto 2014 Douro, Portugal
Lovely floral black cherry and blackcurrant fruit here. This was a tricky vintage with harvest interrupted by rain. At the beginning the wines were a bit tannic, but this is looking like a really good vintage now. This has lovely fresh, supple, yet structured black fruits with pepper, meat and a lovely herbal twist. So drinkable and very fresh. 90/100

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Things are taken up a notch with the single varietal wines, of which the Touriga Nacional and Sousão are particularly noteworthy. Sousão does really well here, but less well in the Douro Superior.

Quinta do Vallado Tinta Roriz 2013 Douro, Portugal
Last made in 2003. It’s a variety that can be a bit rustic here. This comes from a rented quinta in the Douro Superior, and it has 40% American oak. Fresh and vibrant but with sweet black fruits. Has some tar and spice from the oak, with a hint of vanilla. Very spicy and rich with roast coffee hints. Concentrated, dense and tannic, this is quite interesting but a bit primary right now. 91/100

Vallado Quinta do Orgal Douro Superior Organic Vineyards 2014 Douro, Portugal
This is 60% Touriga Nacional. 37% Touriga Franca and 3% Sousão, aged in older barrels. Fro three year old vines. Concentrated and intense with structured black cherry and raspberry fruit. Really dense with lovely black fruits and a nice floral edge. Lovely fruit intensity here. Primary but with potential. 93/100

Quinta do Vallado Touriga Nacional 2014 Douro, Portugal
Very fresh and floral with good concentration and a salty edge to the black fruits. Quite mineral and with some savouriness. Vivid and grippy with a pretty peppery, meaty edge to the lovely dense black cherry and olive core. 93/100

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Quinta do Vallado Sousão 2014 Douro, Portugal
Vallado were the first to make a single varietal version of this grape in 2004. Very powerful with taut raspberry and red cherry fruit. Very bright and intense with good acidity. Made in a lagar, foot tread and then during fermentation extract only gently. Primary and intense with some herby notes. Intensely fresh, sappy and with very high acidity (7-9 g/litre normally). 94/100

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The Reserva is from old vineyards, which are, as is normal for older Douro plots, planted with a mix of dozens of varieties. These old vines all look a bit beaten up, and vary widely in their appearance, but the results are excellent.

Quinta do Vallado Reserva Field Blend Tinto 2008 Douro, Portugal
Very old vineyards: schist soils, low vigour, high density so lots of competition, small bunches. Subtle spice and malt notes on the nose, with a hint of mint. Concentrated palate with herbs and spices and some lovely texture. Nice weight and combination of freshness and lushness with hints of dried meats, mint, herbs and warm spiciness. Grippy and structured with focus. Very stylish; beginning to develop nicely. 92/100

Quinta do Vallado Reserva Field Blend Tinto 2011 Douro, Portugal
20% Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, with the rest from very old vineyards. 18 months in 70% new French oak. Very pure, fresh and textured with powerful but silky tannic structure. Vivid, grippy black fruits here showing complex spice and cured meat notes. Broad but balanced with lovely focus. Stylish and complete, this has a massive potential. 93/100

Quinta do Vallado Reserva Field Blend Tinto 2014 Douro, Portugal
Just 5% newer vineyards, the rest very old. Less new oak, too. Amazingly fresh with lovely pure raspberry and cherry fruit. Stylish, vivid and juicy with lovely bright berries and cherries. Has good acidity and nice tannic structure. This is pretty serious stuff with a bright future, some herby hints, good acidity and lovely presence. 94/100

Quinta do Vallado Adelaide 2012 Douro, Portugal
Beautifully intense blackcurrant, blackberry and cherry nose with some spiciness. The palate shows great concentration with some minty, spicy freshness, firm tannins and good acidity. Real precision here. It’s taut, tannic and a bit backward, and needs some time. But it’s pretty serious stuff with great structure and intensity. 95/100

We also tried some cask samples of the impressive 2015s

Sousao 2015
Very inky, intense, vivid with high acidity and lovely tannins, but also lots of spicy oak. Amazing

Touriga Nacional from Orgal 2015
Incredibly aromatic and dense with really perfumed, pretty black fruits. Brilliantly intense.

Touriga Nacional, 20 year old vines, rented Douro Superior quinta
Pretty with lovely green-edged floral cherry fruit and lovely focused, high acid palate. Supple and pretty.

Old Vines 2015 (1)
Dense, structured, lovely fruit, nice complexity and exotic spices with really nice tannins.

Old Vines 2015 (2)
Dense and structured with good concentration and acidity, and real power. Quite backward.

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Of late, Vallado have also been focusing on Port, and are building up good stocks of tawnies, as well as making very nice vintage.

Quinta do Vallado Vintage Port 2014 Douro, Portugal
Good concentration here with lovely, pretty black cherry fruit and nice spicy framing. Pure and quite lush with fine tannic structure and real purity. Fresh, juicy and lively. This is 100% old vineyards. Intriguing with nice purity and fine herby notes. Lovely wine. 93/100

Quinta do Vallado 10 Year Old Tawny Port NV Douro, Portugal
Lovely freshness with some cherry fruit and spicy raisin notes. Juicy and vivid with nice focus and purity. Fresh and complex, showing lovely balance. 93/100

Quinta do Vallado 30 Year Old Tawny Port NV Douro, Portugal
Pale coloured. Lovely mint and herb notes with fresh raisiny notes and pretty citrus fruits. Fine spicy notes here with real freshness. Marmalade, lemon curds and fine raisin and spice notes. So fresh and complex. 95/100

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Vallado ABF NV Douro, Portugal
This is a wine from 1888, and it’s a follow-up from the Adelaide Tributa. It’s impossible to know that it’s the original wine, but from the analysis and the taste it’s clear that it’s a very old wine, and this is how it is sold. So complex and intense with cedar, spice, treacle, raisin and herb notes, with some mint and coffee notes, too. Very sweet but with amazing acidity and depth, and a savoury salty edge. So complex with freshness and a very long finish. Astonishingly intense and really beautiful. Profound. 96/100

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