Foot-treading grapes at Quinta de Vargellas, Douro

One of the remarkable things about Port wine is foot treading grapes. For top quality Port, it’s necessary to extract as much as possible from the skins as fast as possible, but also as gently as possible. The best way to do this is in shallow fermentation vessels called lagares, which are usually made of [...]

In the Douro: Quinta do Crasto

Quinta do Crasto is one of the most beautiful properties in the Douro, perched on a steeply sloped promontory sticking out from the right bank of the Douro, in the heart of the Cima Corgo.

We parked our rental car in Pinhão and caught the train to Ferrão. It’s a 7 minute ride along the bank [...]

In the Douro: Quinta do Vale D. Maria

Cristiano Van Zeller

We arrived at Vale Dona Maria late afternoon in a torrential downpour. A rather sodden Cristiano Van Zeller walked over to us and greeted us warmly. It was nice to be back: this is the third time I’ve visited in four years. It’s a beautiful spot, and Cristiano purchased it from his [...]

In the Douro: Vale Meão

Vale Meão is an important property in the Douro Superior. It traces its history as a Quinta back to the end of the late 19th century, when Dona Antónia Ferreira was the first to plant vineyards in this part of the Douro. It was a difficult time for the regional council, and to raise funds, [...]

In the Douro: at Vallado's Casa do Rio

I’m in the Douro. It’s 0720 and from where I’m sitting I have a view of the Douro river, looking out from my room at Quinta do Vallado’s new luxury hotel Casa do Rio. And it’s pouring with rain. Normally, rain at harvest time would be a disaster, but it has been really dry here, [...]

In the Alentejo, Portugal, for just a day

I’m just on the way home from Lisbon. I’ve spent today consulting for a major Alentejo winery that changed hands a while back. The new owner is smart enough to seek outside opinions before making changes, and through his new winemaker made an approach to me.

So I visited, looked around the vineyards, had a look [...]

Conceito Bastardo 2007 Douro, Portugal

A few years ago – back in November 2008 – I was judging wine in Porto. I met up with some Portuguese wine people for dinner, and ended up leaving with a magnum of this. I remember getting a lift up to my floor at 3 am with the manager of the Canadian rugby team [...]

10, 20 and 40 year old Tawnies from Fonseca

Had a chance to run through these aged tawnies from Fonseca. The 10 year old is pretty good, but the 20 and 40 year olds are remarkable wines, showing lovely elegance and purity, and some red fruit character still. When Tawny is good, it’s pretty irresistible.

Fonseca 10 Year Old Tawny
Warm and spicy with lovely depth. [...]

In the Tejo region of Portugal

I’ve spent the day in the Tejo region of Portugal. I left my hotel at 0745 and arrived back past 11 pm. During that time I visited six producers, had lunch, and had dinner, so there was no free time and I have only enough energy left for a quick blog post. With some pictures.

The [...]

Latest Douro wines from Dirk Niepoort, and his brilliant Mosel collaboration with Kettern

At ProWein I caught up with Dirk Niepoort, and took a look at his Douro wines, and also a new project from the Mosel that he’s involved with: a collaboration with Phillip Kettern (from Weingut Lothar Kettern) It’s always great to taste with Dirk.

Both of the Niepoort white Redomas are made the same way, but the [...]