segunda-feira, 14 de outubro de 2019

Douro 2019 harvest field work 2

    The last days of the 2019 harvest at the Wine & Soul winery (the producer of Pintas Port wine and Pintas, Guru, Quinta da Manoella and Manoella DOC Douro wines), in Vale de Mendiz, Pinhão river valley (Cima Corgo Douro sub-region) and the last days of the house team ininterrupted and arduous work since last August.

                                                                                                                                         PtoPwine archive
The "remains of the day".
After emptying the lagares (granite treading tanks), the remaining solid masses (a mixture of wine, grape skins and pips) are ready for the final pressing process.

                                                                                                                                         PtoPwine archive
Preparing the old and reliable traditional basket wine press, determinant for the quality of the wine extracted.
                                                                                                                                         PtoPwine archive
The recent Port wine produced, in stainless steel vats awaits the transfer to the port  wine cellar large wood vats, at Quinta da Manoella.

                                                                                                                                         PtoPwine archive

Some of the french oak "Seguin Moreau" barrels dry after being washed, and prepared to start a new cicle ageing the Wine & Soul DOC Douro red wines.

©Hugo Sousa Machado

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sábado, 12 de outubro de 2019

4 questions to the "PortRebels"

with "PortRebels" permission, Melle Meivogel photography
    They are an example of the perfect antidote against the persistent misconception and the still prevalent prejudice that associates the image of Port wine mainly with formal occasions or special events and annual festive seasons or with a certain kind of conservative environments and also a style of wine that is only drunk at the end of meals, in short, "the wine of honour, for congratulations and toasts". It´s time to definitively review and update these persistent wrong ideas, because Port wine reality today is simply very different.

    Let's meet and get to know a little more about the enthusiastic "PortRebels", dedicated to spreading the Port wine word in the Netherlands... undoubtedly a high and noble cause...

    Also good news is the book "PortRebels Port book", which is currently being prepared and will be published in english, wich we are looking forward to in the very near future. It will certainly be a very interesting work with a new and particular look "from the outside" of the region and country, about Port wine and the Douro.

PtoPwine:  Who are the "PortRebels" and your main activities?
PortRebels:  We are three rebellious women from the Netherlands - Jindra, Marga and Annemieke - who blog about Port wine. Our goal is to dust off the old granny image people have of Port wine. Ultimately we want to enthusiast younger people for this interesting wine and its region - the Douro.
    The last few years we organized successful Port tastings. They all had a special twist. With every tasting we tried to match the Port wine with the interest of the younger public. So, we had dj's or live music playing, tasty bites, Port cocktails and of course the best Port wines - from rosé Port to exclusive Vintage. With an average of 80 guests per tasting it felt like a good way of attracting young people into the Port wine world.

    On our website, we blog about our tastings and visits to the quintas in the Douro. It is not a typical wine tasting blog, because we try to attract a new public. With a balance between detailed wine information and fun stories about the families, the quintas and of couse about ourselves.

    Right now we are focusinh on writing our PortRebels Port Book to inform and enthusiast the reader on the basis of short stories on the various wineries all packed in a great book full with appealing imagery. It is not a standard history and Port variants book, but a glimpse into the surprising world of Port on the basis of the actual daily practice. A fresh book for those who are looking for taste and authenticity.

PtoPwine:  How did your interest and enthusiasm for Port wine began?
PortRebels:  Like many other people we have visited Porto as tourists and enjoyed several special Port wines in cute little cafés. Back in the Netherlands we noticed that friends, family and even cafés and restaurants know little about Port wine. That was why four years ago we got together, each bringing our favourite Port wine and started brainstorming about building our blog PortRebels. With the goal of challenging a younger public to try Port wine instead of wine or beer. Since then our interest in Port wine only grew and grew  and luckily we could interest a lot of people to join us.
with "PortRebels" permission, Melle Meivogel photography
PtoPwine: What is your favorite Port wine style and/or the perfect Port? Why?
PortRebels: Because we are three women, all having a different taste, we do not have one favorite. Two of us prefer ruby style Port wines, especially Vintage Port wine. Myself, I love tasting 30 year old tawny Port wines. The different layers and nutty taste always surprises me. The most extraordinary Port experience we had was during our last trip to the Douro, when several quintas let us taste their oldest Port wines with ages up to 150 years old. That was an amazing experience, tasting a piece of history.

    What we all three agree upon is that the 20 year old white Ports should get more attention. Those can be spectacular, with in general a less sweet taste. Therefore an interesting Port wine for a potential new Port lover.

PtoPwine: What are your impressions of the Douro region and Porto?
PortRebels: The Douro is one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world. You can visit big commercial Port wine quintas that give you a fresh, well organized tour. But if you like, you can also visit smaller quintas and talk to the "nose" and winemaker yourself. We have visited many quintas and every one of them is an adventure, but there are four who were extra special. 
    First, there is Quinta do Vallado where we spoke to Francisco Ferreira about how to develop a Port wine as a winemaker. Also he told us about Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, a very rebellious influential woman in Port history. At Quinta de Santa Eufémia we felt part of the family, had a terrific lunch together, stayed overnight and got special insights on the Port wine industry. A special mention for the sisters Luísa and Maria Vieira de Sousa. Together they run a very successful quinta, their 20 white Port wine is worth making a detour for. Last but not least our visit to Martha's, where we met Rita and her family. Martha's makes exceptional tawnies, with a specific family owned taste. In the 30 year old tawny you can search for a little color of green as a result of the excelent blending process.

4 perguntas às "PortRebels"
with "PortRebels" permission, Melle Meivogel photography
    São o exemplo do perfeito antídoto contra o persistente equívoco e preconceito que associa a maioria das vezes a imagem do vinho do Porto apenas a ocasiões ou acontecimentos formais ou a um vinho que se bebe apenas no final das refeições ou então a um certo tipo de ambientes antiquados, "o vinho de honra, de parabéns e de brindes". É tempo de definitivamente revêr e actualizar estas ideais feitas, porque o vinho do Porto hoje é simplesmente muito diferente desta imagem.

    Vamos ficar a conhecer um pouco melhor as entusiásticas "PortRebels", que se têm dedicado a espalhar a palavra do vinho do Porto no seu país de origem, a Holanda. Sem dúvida uma causa nobre e elevada...

    São também boas notícias, a preparação do livro "PortRebels Port book", que será editado em inglês e do qual aguardamos mais novidades num futuro próximo, será concerteza um trabalho muito interessante com um novo e particular olhar "de fora" da região e do país, sobre o Douro e o vinho do Porto.

PtoPwine: Quem são as PortRebels e quais as vossas principais actividades?    
PortRebels: Somos três mulheres rebeldes holandesas, Jindra, Marga e Annemieke, que escrevem sobre vinho do Porto no blog PortRebels. O nosso objectivo é desempoeirar a imagem envelhecida que as pessoas têm do vinho do Porto. Em última análise, queremos entusiasmar os mais jovens para este interessante vinho e para a sua região - o Douro.
    Nos últimos anos organizamos degustações bem sucedidas com vinho do Porto. Todas tiveram um toque especial e em cada degustação tentamos aproximar o vinho do Porto dos interesses do público mais jovem. Tivemos dj's ou música ao vivo, petiscos saborosos, cocktails com Porto e, claro, os melhores vinhos do Porto - do Porto rosé aos Vintages mais exclusivos. Com uma média de 80 convidados em cada prova, parece-nos uma boa maneira de atrair os mais jovens para o mundo do vinho do Porto.

    No nosso site escrevemos sobre as nossas provas e visitas às quintas no Douro. Não é o típico site com descrições de provas de vinhos, porque a finalidade é tentar atraír um público mais novo. Com um equilíbrio entre informações detalhadas sobre vinhos e histórias divertidas sobre os produtores, as suas famílias, as quintas e, claro, sobre nós mesmas.

    Actualmente estamos concentradas na preparação do nosso "PortRebels Port book", para informar e entusiasmar o leitor com base em histórias curtas sobre vários produtores, num conjunto composto num óptimo livro com imagens atraentes. Não se trata de uma variante dos livros sobre o vinho do Porto e sua história, mas um vislumbre do mundo surpreendente do Porto, com base na prática real e diária. Um livro novo para quem procura gosto e autenticidade.

PtoPwine: Como teve início o vosso interesse e entusiasmo pelo vinho do Porto?
PortRebels: Tal como muitas outras pessoas, visitámos a cidade do Porto como turistas e desfrutamos de vários vinhos do Porto especiais em pequenos e bonitos cafés. De volta à Holanda, apercebemo-nos que amigos, família e até mesmo cafés e restaurantes têm pouco conhecimento sobre vinho do Porto. Foi por isso que há 4 anos atrás nos reunimos, cada uma com o seu vinho do Porto preferido e começamos então a pensar na criação do nosso blog PortRebels. Com o objectivo de desafiar um público mais jovem a experimentar um vinho do Porto em vez de simplesmente um vinho de mesa ou cerveja. Desde então, o nosso interesse pelo vinho do Porto só aumentou e felizmente podemos interessar muita gente para se juntar a nós.
    with "PortRebels" permission, Melle Meivogel photography
PtoPwine: Qual o vosso vinho do Porto favorito ou o Porto perfeito? e porquê?
PortRebels: Porque somos três, todas com um gosto diferente, não temos um favorito. Duas de nós preferem vinho do Porto do estilo ruby, especialmente vinho do Porto vintage. Eu gosto de provar vinhos do Porto tawny com 30 anos de idade. As diferentes camadas de aromas e sabores de frutos secos surpreendem-me sempre.
    A experiência mais extraordinária com vinho do Porto que tivemos foi durante a nossa última viagem à região do Douro, onde vários produtores nos deixaram provar os seus mais antigos vinhos do Porto tawny com idades até 150 anos. Foi uma experiência incrível, foi saborear um pedaço de história.

    Mas o que todas nós concordamos é que os vinhos do Porto brancos com 20 anos de idade devem ser olhados com mais atenção. Podem ser espectaculares e, em geral, com um sabor menos doce. Portanto, um vinho do Porto muito interessante para um potencial novo interessado neste estilo de vinho.

PtoPwine: Quais são as vossas impressões sobre a região do Douro e o Porto?
PortRebels: O Douro é uma das mais belas regiões vinícolas do mundo. É possível visitar grandes quintas comerciais, que proporcionam um passeio refrescante e bem organizado. Mas se preferirmos também podemos visitar quintas mais pequenas e falar directamente com quem produz o vinho. Visitamos muitas quintas e cada uma delas é uma aventura, mas houve quatro que foram especiais.
    Em primeiro lugar, a Quinta do Vallado, onde falamos com Francisco Ferreira, sobre como produzir um vinho do Porto como enólogo. Também nos falou sobre Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, uma mulher rebelde com uma influência muito grande na história do vinho do Porto. Na Quinta de Santa Eufémia sentimo-nos como parte da família, tivemos um almoço incrível, passamos a noite e ficamos com conhecimentos especiais sobre a indústria do vinho do Porto. Uma referência especial para as irmãs Luísa e Maria Vieira de Sousa. Juntas, elas administram uma quinta muito bem sucedida. Vale a pena fazer um desvio para conhecer o seu vinho do Porto branco com 20 anos de idade. Por último, mas não menos importante, a nossa visita à "Martha's", onde nos encontramos com Rita e a sua família. A "Martha's" faz tawnies excepcionais, com um gosto específico. Nos seus tawnies de 30 anos podemos procurar um pouco dos laivos esverdeados, resultado do excelente processo de lotação.


May also interest / também pode interessar:

Douro 2019 harvest field work

                                                                                                         PtoPwine archive

   The beginning of the red grape harvest in the Douro: one of the first shipments to reach the Quinta de la Rosa winery (Pinhão, Cima Corgo Douro sub-region).

sábado, 27 de julho de 2019

Veraison is here

Old vineyard at Quinta do Bragão (Noble & Murat), Celeirós do Douro, Pinhão river valley, Cima Corgo Douro sub-region.

   The veraison arrived in the Douro, the grape berries begin to color, the physiological phase of grape coloring.

    It is one of the important stages of grape ripening, the on-set of ripening, the moment of grape development when the grape berries begin to change color. The red grapes begin to turn from green to light red and then dark red, and in white grapes, the green becomes translucent and it assumes various shades of yellow. It is a phenomenon that can occur quickly, the color of a grape berry can change overnight.

    These obvious changes are not uniform and have their own "natural" time, since it doesn't happen at the same moment in all the vineyards, grape varieties and berries of the same bunch, usually the outer berries are the first to change color.

    At this stage of the continuous process until full ripeness and harvest time, the grape berries begin to grow in size and loose the hardness characteristic of the green fruit and gain elasticity.

    There is a progressive accumulation of sugars, the content of which increases rapidly. At the same time a progressive decrease in acidity happens (the acids in the grape reach their maximum values immediatly before the veraison starts).

    It is currently happening in  the Douro and will continue during the month of August.

    O "pintor" chegou

    Chegou o "pintor" ao Douro, os bagos das uvas começam a pintar, a época fisiológica da coloração da uva.

    É uma das fases importantes da maturação das uvas, é o começo do amadurecimento e o momento do desenvolvimento das uvas em que os bagos começam a mudar de côr. As uvas tintas, começam a passar do verde para o vermelho claro e depois vermelho escuro, e as brancas, de verde tornam-se translúcidas e assumem vários tons de amarelo. É um fenómeno que pode ocorrer rapidamente, a côr de um bago de uva pode alterar-se de um dia para o outro.

    Estas alterações óbvias não são uniformes e tem um  tempo "natural" próprio. Não ocorrem ao mesmo tempo em todas as vinhas, em todas as castas e em todos os bagos de uva do mesmo cacho, geralmente os bagos exteriores são os primeiros a mudar de côr.

    Nesta fase deste processo contínuo até à maturação plena e ao momento da vindima, os bagos de uva aumentam de tamanho, perdem a dureza característica da fruta verde e ganham mais elasticidade. Há um progressivo aumento da acumulação de açúcares, cujo teor aumenta rapidamente. Ao  mesmo tempo ocorre uma diminuição progressiva do teor de acidez (os ácidos na uva atingem os valores máximos imediatamente antes do início do "pintor").

    Está neste momento a acontecer no Douro e prolongar-se-à ainda durante o mês de Agosto.




domingo, 21 de julho de 2019

The XXXVI Rabelo Boat Regatta

    The nautical interlude on a summer afternoon in the city of wine

On the right, the winer Sandeman "Vau", on the center, the 2nd classified Taylors' "Distinto" and on the left the 3rd classified Warre's "Quinta da Cavadinha"
    This year took place the 36th Rabelo Boat Regatta - the 1st regatta took place in 1983 by the initiative of the Confraria do Vinho do Porto (The Port Wine Brotherhood) - on a course that goes up the river and has its starting line in the Afurada area just in front of the "Douro marina" and ends between Porto ribeira (riverside) and the Sandeman cellars in Gaia. The exact time of this event is fixed according to the tide, it is carried out during full tide to avoid navigation against the river current of this heavy and difficult to maneuver boats.

    Rabelos upriver...

    Today these boats, that used to transport the Port wine casks from the Douro region to the cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, no longer have the traditional large white sails, the very few vessels that currently exist, now bear the insignia of the proprietary houses they represent and sail once a year on the lively St. John's day afternoon (on the 24th June), the day of the patron saint of Porto city, in a regatta that seeks to respect the genuineness and traditions of the Rabelo boats.
    These are vessels with a robust structure that were built to support, in the past, the Douro river navigation and the port wine casks transportation, from the Douro wine region up river to the lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia down river, in a river with a very different course than it is today. The construction of dams along the course of the river Douro, tamed it, and it is difficult to imagine today, the river of brave and tumultuous waters, full of dangers and difficult passages, the Rabelo boats faced a navigation with innumerable risks (on the famous J. J. Forrester map "Portuguese Douro and Adjacent Country", 1848, were identified 201 points of difficult navigation in the river descent from the international Douro to Foz), for which these boats were constructed.

    The final classification:

    1st Sandeman "Vau": first classified for the second consecutive year and by a very short margin to;

    2nd Taylor's "Distinto";

    3rd Warre's "Quinta da Cavadinha".

    Some Regatta instruction interesting notes:
    "n.º 21: An attitude of seriousness and sobriety shall be imposed on the crew and any breach in this respect shall be punished by a dip in the river."

    "n.º 27: It is recommended that on the Rabelo boats, only Douro and Port wines be made available as alcoholic beverages."

     A XXXVI Regata dos barcos Rabelos
    O interlúdio náutico de uma tarde de verão na cidade do vinho

    Este ano organizou-se a 36.ª Regata dos barcos Rabelos - a 1.ª regata ocorreu em 1983, por iniciativa e organização da Confraria do Vinho do Porto - num percurso que sobe o rio e tem a linha de largada na zona da Afurada, em frente à "Douro marina", e termina entre a ribeira do Porto e as caves Sandeman em Gaia. A hora é fixada em função da maré, realiza-se durante a maré cheia para evitar a navegação contra a corrente destas embarcações pesadas e difíceis de manobrar.

    Rabelos, rio acima...

    Já sem as tradicionais grandes velas brancas, os poucos exemplares destas embarcações existentes actualmente, que no passado faziam o transporte das pipas de vinho do Porto da região do Douro até aos armazéns de Vila Nova de Gaia, ostentam agora as insígnias das casas proprietárias que representam e navegam uma vez por ano na tarde animada do dia de S. João, 24 de Junho, na regata que procura respeitar a genuinidade do barco Rabelo e as suas tradições.
    São embarcações com uma estrutura robusta, foram concebidaS para suportar a navegação e transporte, no passado, dos barris de vinho do Porto até Gaia, num rio muito diferente do que é hoje. A construção de barragens ao longo do curso do rio Douro, amansou-o e é difícil imaginar hoje, o rio de águas bravas e tumultuosas, com um percurso cheio de rápidos e passagens difíceis, numa navegação com inúmeros riscos (no célebre mapa de J. J. Forrester "Douro Portuguez e Paiz Adjacente", de 1848, estavam identificados 201 pontos de difícil navegação, na descida do rio Douro, desde o Douro internacional até à Foz), para os quais estes barcos foram construídos.

    A classificação final:

    1.º Sandeman "Vau", vencedor pelo segundo ano consecutivo e por uma curta margem em relação ao segundo classificado,

    2.º Taylor's "Distinto";

    3.º Warre's "Quinta da Cavadinha".

    Algumas notas interessantes das Instruções de Regata:
    "n.º 21: deverá ser imposta à tripulação uma atitude de seriedade e sobriedade e qualquer quebra a este respeito deverá ser punida com um  mergulho no rio."

    "n.º 27: Recomenda-se que nos barcos Rabelos sejam disponibilizados como bebidas alcoólicas apenas vinhos do Douro e Vinhos do Porto".

Em primeiro plano Sandeman "Vau" e em segundo plano, Warre's "Quinta da Cavadinha"

segunda-feira, 1 de julho de 2019

Le vin à la bouche! Churchill's and Quinta da Gricha 2017 Vintage Port


    The year 2017will be recorded in the Douro and Port wine history for several exceptional events, as it was an absolutely atypical year with uncommon weather conditions, an extremely hot and dry year that has determined a very early harvest, and there is no memory of such anticipation in the Douro region harvest records (more information: the 2017 harvest report). For Churchill's, it was the earliest harvest ever at Quinta da Gricha.
    And then, two years after the harvest, in the 2019 spring we get the first news of several 2017 vintage Port declarations. This is a new chapter in the history of many Port wine producers, the very rare event of two consecutive classic vintage declarations (a classic vintage Port is declared in those years when there is a general consensus among most producers regarding the quality of a vintage Port, which will be bottled with the house main label), the 2016 classic vintage Port is now followed by the very recent 2017 vintage declaration.

    Certainly, up to now, a very rare event in te long Port wine history and unique to many producers.

    2017 was undoubtedly an exceptional year, in which very high quality wines were produced that ended up imposing the vintage Port declaration decision by the main producers and a vintage with the main producers brands.

    As in the previous year, the 2017 vintage Port production was smaller, however, there were healthy high quality grapes (due to the warmer climatic year there was a lower incidence of vine diseases), very good quality musts, with good colour, structure and concentration, fruit intensity and firm tannins, as was also the case at Churchill's. We could define concentration and structure as the main characteristics of this year's vintages.

    At Churchill's for the first time in its history, i.e., since 1981, two classic vintages have been declared in consecutive years, a unique event.
    The house vintage Ports follow the traditional vinification method, the grapes are exclusively foot trodden with prolonged macerations for 5 days in gratine "lagares" (the grapes are vinified with the grape bunch stems), obtaining a less agressive and a more uniform maceration, which preserves the natural characteristics of the grapes and enhances the best expression of the complexity and aromatic profile of the musts. The fermentation is natural without yeats addition and is longer, thus preserving more natural alcohol without the need to add as much grape spirit in the fortification process.

    The 2017 vintage Port tasting impressions (tasted in sample before bottling):

    Churchill's Vintage Port 2017

    A vintage Port produced from an old vineyards field-blend, located in the Upper Douro and Cima Corgo Douro sub-regions, that include Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Francisca and Tinto Cão grape varieties.

    It has a great colour depth, great intensity and aroma concentration, with black fruits, blackberries, blueberries and black plums. The high fruit concentration is a 2017 characteristic. In the mouth the obvious black fruits, complex with a very good structure, firm tannins, freshness and good acidity, in a half-dry style. With a long and persistent aftertaste. A complexity that will develop in the coming decades, a reward for patience.

    Churchill's Quinta da Gricha Vintage Port 2017

    Only a very small quantity of this vintage was produced and will be available. It is made from the Quinta da Gricha old vineyard grapes, a field-blend in which the Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Francisca grape varieties predominate.

    It has a deep and dark ruby colour, more exuberant, with aroma intensity, floral and with fruit concentration, black fruit notes and spice suggestions. It has an intense flavour, complex and with a good structure, freshness and elegance. A drier style. With a long finish and a vigor that ensures many years of evolution.
   A single quinta vintage that expresses the "G" factor, i. e., the Quinta da Gricha old vineyards and terroir character.

    (tasting with JG and RPN, 28May2019)

Le vin à la bouche!
Churchill's e Quinta da Gricha Vintage 2017
     O ano de 2017 vai ficar na história do Douro e do vinho do Porto por vários factos excepcionais, por ter sido um ano absolutamente atípico, com condições climatéricas invulgares, um ano extremamente quente e seco que determinou uma vindima muito precoce, que foi antecipada para datas de que não há memória no Douro (mais informação: Douro, o relatorio da vindima 2017). Para a Churchill's, foi a vindima mais precoce realizada na Quinta da Gricha. 
    Depois, dois anos após a vindima, com a primavera de 2019, surgem as primeiras notícias de várias declarações de Porto vintage. É um novo capítulo na história de muitos produtores com o acontecimento raro de 2 declarações de Porto vintage clássico consecutivas (existe declaração clássica quando há um consenso generalizado da grande maioria dos produtores relativamente à qualidade excepcional de um vintage, que é engarrafado com o rótulo ou marca principal da casa), à declaração de 2016 sudede-se agora o Porto vintage 2017.

    Um acontecimento raro na longa história do vinho do Porto para a maioria dos produtores e único para muitos.

    2017 foi sem dúvida mais um ano excepcional, com vinhos de grande qualidade, o que acabou por impôr a decisão de declaração vintage com a principal marca de cada produtor.

    Tal como já tinha sucedido em 2016, também a produção de 2017 foi mais reduzida, no entanto, com uvas sãs de grande qualidade (foi determinante a menor incidência de doenças na vinha, consequência do ano mais quente), com mostos de muito boa qualidade, boa côr, estrutura e muita concentração, intensidade de fruta e taninos, como também aconteceu na Churchill's. Concentração e estrutura são as principais características dos vintages deste ano.

    Na Churchill's, pela primeira vez na sua história, desde 1981, declararam-se dois vintages clássicos em anos consecutivos, um acontecimento único.
    Os vintages da casa seguem o método tradicional de vinificação, com pisa a pé e maceração prolongada durante 5 dias em lagares de granito (as uvas são vinificadas com engaço), com uma maceração menos agressiva e mais uniforme, que preserva as características naturais da uva e potencia a melhor expressão da qualidade, complexidade e perfil aromático dos mostos. A fermentação é natural sem adição de leveduras e é mais prolongada, preservando assim mais álcool natural e sem necessidade de adicionar tanta aguardente vínica no processo de fortificação.

    As impressões dos Vintages provados (provado em amostra antes do engarrafamento):

    Churchill's Vintage Port 2017

    Um Vintage que tem origem num field-blend de vinhas velhas localizadas no Douro Superior e no Cima Corgo que incluí as castas Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Francisca e Tinto Cão.

    Com grande profundidade de côr, grande intensidade e concentração de aromas de frutos negros, mirtilos, amoras e ameixas pretas. A concentração de fruta é uma característica do ano. O sabor também com frutos negros óbvios, é complexo e com boa estrutura, com taninos firmes, frescura e boa acidez, num estilo meio-seco. Com um final longo e persistente. Uma complexidade que se vai desenvolver nas próximas décadas, um prémio para a paciência.

    Churchill's Quinta da Gricha Vintage Port 2017

    Foi produzida e estará disponível uma pequena quantidade deste Vintage, com origem nas uvas da vinha velha da Quinta da Gricha, um field-blend em que predominam as castas Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Barroca e Tinta Francisca.

    A côr é de um rubi muito escuro, com muita intensidade de aromas, mais exuberante, com aromas florais, com concentração de fruta e aromas de frutos negros e sugestões de especiaria. Com sabor intenso, um conjunto complexo e com boa estrutura, frescura e elegância. Um estilo mais seco. Com um final prolongado. Com um vigor que assegura muitos anos de evolução. 
    Um Vintage de quinta que exprime o factor "G", i.e., o terroir e o carácter das vinhas velhas da Quinta da Gricha.

    (provado com JG e RPN em 28Maio2019).


quinta-feira, 23 de maio de 2019

Churchill's and Quinta da Gricha

the birthplace of Churchill's wines

  • The beggining: 1981, the year Churchill's was founded
  • Churchill's, before Quinta da Gricha
  • Quinta da Gricha, the Churchill's activity center in the Port wine country
  • The quinta and the importance of the location, the knowledge of the place
  • The Vineyards
  • The Vineyard characterization
  • Winemaking and Wines
  • The identity and style of Churchill's wines
  • Port Wines
  • DOC Douro Wines
  • Churchill's Vintage Ports

The beggining: 1981, the year Churchill's was founded
    The history of Churchill's predates the purchase of Quinta da Gricha and began in 1980 when John Graham leaves his position as director that had held in the well-known Cockburn's Port wine house, with the intention of founding an independent Port wine producing company.

    John Graham was born in Porto in 1952, lived in England and returned to Portugal in 1973, to work at Cockburn's from 1973 to 1980 (and also as a consultant at "Taylor's"), where he did all his professional learning and where he was director in 1980.

    Churchill's was founded in 1981 by brothers Anthony, William and John Graham. The firm appears under the designation "Churchill Graham, Lda.". At the time, the first independent british Port wine producing company to be established in 50 years, in the last quarter of the 20th century, fulfilling all the necessary legal requirements at that time, that included a warehouse in Vila Nova de Gaia and a Port wine stock of 150.000 liters (about 270, 550 liter wood casks).

    The "Churchill's" brand itself has its own history as well. The Graham family was once the owner of Quinta dos Malvedos, in the Douro, along with the renowned Port wine company "Graham's". At the beginning of the 1960's, Quinta dos Malvedos was sold to the Syminton family. The old Port wine family business, the "Graham's" brand, the Port wine company under John's family name, were subsequently also sold to the Symington family a few years later, in 1970, and until today integrate this firm's portfolio. At this point it is worth notting that members of the Symington family were involved in the business of producing and marketing Port wine precisely through the Graham's house. Thus we arrive to the current designation "Churchill's", which is actually John's wife family name, Caroline Churchills. Following the impossibility of commercial use of the "Graham's" designation, the company combines the two names "Churchill Graham".

    This familiar past involvement in the Port wine business is not negligible since it ensured credibility in this particular businnes environment, which is not solely guaranteed by the quality of the wines produced. John Graham wanted to maintain the long family tradition and assert himself in the exclusive production of quality Port wines, while creating a product with his own brand, style and image. Then, in a second moment of the company's life, with the acquisition of Quinta da Gricha, conditions were created for the DOC Douro table wines production.

    In just three decades the company has created a reputation for producing consistent and great quality Port wines.

Churchill's before Quinta da Gricha

    Prior to the acquisitiion of its own vineyards, John Graham had reached an agreement with Borges de Sousa, who was a long time acquaintance of his and at that time a supplier of the "Cockburn's" house. The Borges de Sousa were a family of long established Douro producers, with some extraordinary properties in the heart of the Douro region, with great quality vineyards and grapes, such as Quinta da Água Alta (on the north bank of the river Douro, in Covas do Douro, Sabrosa), Quinta do Fojo and Quinta da Manuela (both located in the Pinhão river valley, in Vale de Mendiz, Alijó), and through this agreement, in each harvest Churchill's had the priority to select the best grapes of Borges de Sousa vineyards.
    And that was the basis of Churchill's wines for 20 years, which helped the company achieve recognition for the quality of the Port wines it produced.

    However, in 1999, the death of Borges de Sousa ended a cycle, since his grandchildren intended to start their own production, a project incompatible with the supply agreement maintained ultil then with Churchill's, which at that time could no longer rely on this important and main source of grapes for its wine production, a reality that eventually imposed the necessity of the difficult task of searching the Douro region for properties with the ideal requirements to acquire its own vineyards.

Quinta da Gricha
The Churchill's activity center in the Port wine country

    [Gricha: slit in the rock or crag, mainly if there comes out water (in Novo Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa, by Cândido de Figueiredo) - "water spring coming out of the rock fissure.", "the cold water from the gricha source..." (in Dicionário de Morais)]

The "gricha"
Some historical notes

    There are few records with historical references to Quinta da Gricha. It is, however, a Douro property dedicated to viticulture that has been producing wine for many years, at least since the second quarter of the 19th century. The dates engraved on the building of the old cardenho(1) (1820) and the construction date of the old granite lagares(2) (1852), so indicate.

    Quinta da Gricha produces Port wine at least since 1840 and with its own brand and label since 1999. It does not have the historiacl thickness of many historical Douro quintas, but it is a 19th century quinta, of an era in the long Port wine history  of a fast expansion of the Douro viticulture, when many quintas in the Douro where created to respond the growing demand for Port wine in export foreign markets, which had begun in the mid 18th century.

Some records with references to "Gricha" and "Quinta da Gricha"

    The demarcation of the Roriz area, carried out in November 10, 1758, states that: "The demarcation for the 15$000 réis wine begins on the Douro river, where the stream that comes from Gricha..." (in "As Demarcações Pombalinas do Douro vinhateiro", by Álvaro Baltazar Moteira da Fonseca).

    Other historical mentions, from the book "Roriz, história de uma Quinta no Coração do Douro" ("Roriz, the history of a Quinta in the heart of the Douro"), by Gaspar Martins Pereira: "In February the wine was cleaned, transferred from the large wood barrels ("tonéis") to the casks where it should be loaded. In 1899, the "caneco" (wine transferred by hand) was no longer used, using that year the wine pump from Quinta da Gricha. Probably to try the new process.".

    In 1907 regarding Quinta de Roriz, the purchase of nearby properties was considered in Roriz: "he recalled the convenience of buying Quinta da Gricha", but the negotiations were not sucessful.

    On April 1st 1909, concerning the registration (in the name of Cristiano Van Zeller) of the discovery rights of two tin mines, "one in Quinta da Gricha, belonging (that year) to José Gomes de Carvalho, and the other on the Roriz crags.".

    In 1978, "the Quinta da Gricha owner, José Pessanha Seixas, wrote to Rolando Van Zeller, to obtain the electricity supply by the transformation station installed in Roriz. Seixas achieved its goal. However, from 1989 it began to have severe finantial difficulties, failing to settle the electricity consumption, having accumulated a high debt to Quinta de Roriz, which, after many warnings was forced to cut the electricity supply to Gricha in 1995.".

    "By the nascent hillside, ... cut by the path that leads to Ervedosa and passes through the Quinta da Gricha leaning on high..." (in "Douro: Principais Quintas, Navegação, Culturas, Paisagens e Costumes", by Manuel Monteiro).

    Still, from the book "Quintas do Douro", by J. Alcino Monteiro (1960), the description:
"Gricha: a Ervedosa do Douro parish, in the municipality of São João da Pesqueira. Owner (in 1960): João Baptista de Morais Frias, residing in Soutelo do Douro. A very important Quinta for its location. It is located on the right bank of the river Torto, at an altitude of 140 / 300m and in gravel terrain. It has a settlement of about 30 thousand vines, many olive and fruit trees, manly orange trees. Its very fine quality wine production, is quite high, also produces olive oil in appreciable quantities."-

    In 1999, Quinta da Gricha was purchased by Churchill's, a property with a total area of 50 hectares.

The Quinta and the importance of the location, the knowledge of the place

    The emblematic Churchill's quinta, which is currently at the origin of its Port and DOC Douro wines, is located in the Cima Corgo Douro sub-region, on the south bank of the river Douro, between Pinhão and São João da Pesqueira, in the parish of Ervedosa do Douro (Ervedosa do Douro is the largest Port wine producing area in the entire Douro region), and in the municipality of São João da Pesqueira. It is very close to the historic Quinta de Roriz, in one of the best Port wine producing areas in the Douro.

    Until 1999, as mentioned above, the grapes for Churchill's Port wines originated from properties and vineyards located on the north bank of the river Douro, with a predominant south exposure, which originated wines with a hot, earthy profile and with a more concentrated style. The vineyards of the Pinhão river valley had similar characteristics.
    John Graham had the opinion that the search should be done to find cooler locations and terrains that could contibute with the components of freshness, natural acidity and fruit purity, essential elements for the wine profile he wanted to produce.

    Neighbour to the famous and historic Quinta de Roriz, Quinta da gricha is a terroir of excellent vineyards of recognized quality and classified as "A"(3) category, which was a decisive factor for its choice. With a mild and predominantly north exposure, the vines benifit from more hours of shade and less hours of direct sunlight, a very important factor especially at the end of the hot summer afternoons, and the grapes will inevitably express this greater freshness and higher humidity, getting good, longer and more balanced maturations. Moreover the acquisition of its own vineyards allowed the company to control the entire wine production process, from viticulture, to treading the grapes in the winery and vinification.

    In the Douro, each quinta and each property and vineyard, has its very own specific characteristics, its own conditions and different viticulture and vinification processes. This is also the case at Quinta da Gricha, where Churchill's wines are born, and it was with this property that DOC Douro wine production started.

    At the time of Quinta da Gricha purchase, another smaller property was also acquired, the Quinta do Rio, located in the not too distant river Torto valley, a tributary of the Douro river on its south bank and also in the Cima-Corgo Douro sub-region, an estate with 12 hectares of "A" category classified vineyards, with greater sun exposure and that produced a warm, fruity, floral and concentrated style of Port wine that could be considered the antithesis of the ones produced at Gricha, but the conscious intention was to widen the choice possibilities and to have a guarantee to obtain the best possible results in each harvest. Nevertheless, the successive productions did not demonstrate the consistency of those characteristics required for the Churchill's wine profile and the possibility of acquiring more plots of land contiguous to Quinta da Gricha ended up determining the decision to sell Quinta do Rio.

    Also, for a very short period, from 1999 to 2002, Quinta da Perdiz, also located in the river Torto valley, was leased, and which ended up having a very limited influence on the house wines.

    1999 was the first year that Quinta da Gricha grapes were used to produce vintage Port wine.

    In the path of the Douro quintas historical tradition, as centers or units of integrated wine production, oriented to wine making, it is possible to recognize in the quinta traditional architecture, the buildings and their original functions, and the divisions of the several areas and spaces.

    The largest building, the quinta's old house, the main owner's house and all the structures that support the wine production, the "lagares" house independent building with its old granite "lagares"(2) still in use today with elegant carved granite columns, decorative elements unusual in the Douro quintas, the winery, the housekeeper's house, and the "cardenhos"(1). Some of these buildings are currently adapted to new uses as a result of new needs, such as a new tasting room, the laboratory, the office, dormitories, and then the exterior areas that constitute Quinta da Gricha own natural heritage, in addition to its vine gardens, there is a beautiful garden, a vegetable garden, the orchard, the olive grove and the almond trees.

The view from Quinta da Gricha. Quinta de Roriz in the background.
    Very recently, in 2016 the infrastructure rehabilitation was completed, with the construction of a winery, a cellar for wine ageing, a laboratory and a warehouse, as well as the quinta's main house recovery and conservation, preparing it to receive guests, since it was partially in ruins and which is designated today as "Gricha Vineyard Residence". In this conservation and restoration works there was a concern to respect the essence of the traditional and historic architecture elements of the old buildings, the typical traditional traces remained, there was a care to maintain the structure of the house interiors and spaces, whenever possible with the use of similar materials, such as the coffered ceilings and the wooden structures supporting the ceilings.

    The Quinta considered as a set of tourism resources was also valued following the current and growing trend of articulating wine making activities, wine and cultural tourism.

The Vineyards

2 vine row "patamares" terraced vineyards
    The quinta had approximately 20 hectares of a vineyard that already existed when it was acquired in 1999, and about half of the present vineyard area already existed and consisted of a mixture of very old vines and other vineyards of an average age of approximatly of 30 years old. Since then a careful work of replanting and reconversion has begun and the vineyard has been increased to twice the initial total area.

    In 2009, the initial vineyard area had been enlarged and expanded to about 37 hectares. Presently the quinta has a total area of 50 hectares, 40 of which planted with vineyard.

The Vineyard characterization

    Of the present total 40 hectare vineyard area, about 20ha are planted with very old vines with approximately 70 years old and 35 year old vines planted under the PDRITM program(4). The remaining 20ha, correspond to the most recent vineyards planted in the years 2007, 2008 and 2009 with Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa and Sousão red grape varieties and Rabigato and Viosinho white grape varieties in the highest altitude parcels.

The type of terrain: consisting essentially by schist lands with some granite outcrops. Part of the vineyard is planted in old tin mine terrain and the soil has a very strong mineral component, which is reflected in the wines.

The vineyad layout: there are several types of terraces, the traditional vineyard planted in post phyloxeric traditional Douro terraces called "socalcos" and also the "patamares" terraces (first appeared in the 1960's, consisting of a contour-hugging terraces constructed with a inclined earth ramp known as "talude") of 1 to 2 vine bards. The old vineyard is planted in an amphitheater style.

The grape varieties: there are several grape varieties planted, predominantly Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Francisca, Tinto Cão and a blend made up of several different mixed grape varieties and which are the origin of the house Port wines.
The PDRITM program vineyards (more than 35 years old), consisting of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Touriga Francesa red grape varieties.

What's so special about Quinta da Gricha "Talhão 8" (vineyard parcel)?
"The Talhão 8 is made up of Touriga Nacional and is the origin of a wine produced in very reduced quantities made from a vineyard that I think is special. It is not an old vineyard, we are talking of a vineyard of about 19 years old that year after year produces a Touriga Nacional of remarkable quality and consistency. Without losing its characteristic exuberance it also shows a very well defined elegance and structure. For this reason, we understand that it's a wine that exemplifies the pedigree of a quinta as Gricha.". (Ricardo Pinto Nunes, Churchill's production director and winemaker).

    According to Ricardo Pinto Nunes, this is a Touriga Nacional and Touriga Francesa terroir par excellence, safeguarding that the essence and the Douro strength is based on the wines produced from very old vines, the so-called field-blends.

    There is an intentional Touriga Nacional predominance, which is a grape variety with an exceptional expression in these terrains, both for Port and table wines, it matures with a low alcohol level, about 12% to 13%, it has a tendency for a low production, with compact grape bunches and small berries, it's very aromatic and has a good tanic structure. It produces wines of high purity and focus and with an excellent natural acidity.

    The future plan is to widen the vineyard area by about more 5 hectares, where 10 to 15 grape varieties will be planted thinking of a future field blend.

    The wines that do not include the name "Quinta da Gricha" on the label are produced from grapes purchased from farmers (which are about 15 in total), with which there is a fairly close relationship that has been maintained for many years, some of them are suppliers since the Quinta da Gricha acquisition in 1999, which allows a very good knowledge of the vineyards and the potential of the grapes produced as a guarantee of consistency for the desired wine profile.

Winemaking and wines

    On the Quinta da Gricha we are in a very special terroir, where wines with specific and recognizable characteristrics are born and which gives wines its identity, freshness and natural acidity that can be maintained even in very hot years, which is decisive for its elegance, balance and for the wine ageing capacity.

    White wines are produced from grapes from the vineyards located on the highest grounds and on more granitic soils. There is a white grape variety vineyard high in the quinta which is used for white table wines, however, grapes form other higher areas in the Douro are also used, such as Murça, for its more granitic soils and because it ensures freshness and a late fruit maturation, which are elements sought by the house. Acidity is a characteristic transversal to all of Churchill's wines with a mineral component always present. In red wines, the black fruit, blueberries and ripe blackberries are distinctive elements.

    In 2007, it was introduced for the first time a wine from the Upper Douro region in the wine blend, with a more rustic and muscular characteristic style without the finesse of the Cima Corgo region. The "Grande Reserva" is a wine that combines 3 to 4 very old vineyards located in Cima Corgo and Upper Douro, according to RPN: "It's a wine with the typical strength of a blend of old vines, with structure and complexity, closed and tense, vinous and with a very good ageing potential.".

    Port wines are still fully produced using the traditional methods, using the old and traditional Quinta da Gricha granite "lagares", more than 150 years old, built 1852, and which are also a part of the house pride.
    Traditionally, Port wines are produced by foot treading the grapes in granit or schist lagares, which require a lot of man power available. Tipically, Port wine companies recruited harvest working teams from the same village, they stayed together in the Douro, harvesting during the day and working in the lagares at night, which is an old social practice.

    The company makes a point of maintaining the ancestral tradition of foot treading the grapes for all its Port wines, as long as it is possible, because it is believed that despite being a costly method, it is still the efficient process and the one that produces the best results and that gives Port wine the colour and soft tannins they need. There is an importance given to detail, an attention and care for small things, which is also what the most informed and specialized consumer is looking for.
    Another distinguishing factor is that Churchill's Port wines ferment naturally without yeasts addition, "this factor coupled with the fact that we purposely leave the must to ferment a little further, gives rise to drier, structured wines and without the need to add as much wine brandy, that is, with more "natural" alcohol, alcohol from  the fermentation process.".

    In the process of Port wine production that Churchill's considers to be the most suitable for vintage Port, a very careful blind wine tasting and selection of the several wines available from each vintage is carried out, which will allow a 3 category division, Vintage, LBV and Reserve.  The "Vintage" category wines are intended for Churchill's Vintage Ports, Single Quinta Vintage Ports, Crusted Ports and a wine reserve for the future 20 and 30 year old Tawny Ports. The wines with potential to age in bottle like a vintage are the same wines needed to age properly in wood casks, as well as its ability to retain fruit, colour and freshness. Then the "LBV" category, intended for LBV Ports and a wine reserve for the 10 year old tawnies. Finally, since Churchill's only produces Port wine special categories, the "Reserve" category, the wines that ensure the reserve Port blends.

The identity and style of Churchill's wines

    This is a niche company which is now a reference, with a specialized vocation for high quality Port and DOC Douro wine production. These are wines made by people which are actually artisans and who are really interested in the wines they produce. "Churchill's small scale allows the production of hand-crafted wines using traditional mehods that many houses are unable to apply due to their time comsuming nature.".
    The commitment to Port wine special categories, makes even its ruby ports top of the range. The grape selection and the whole vinification process is the same, regardless the wine style, whether it is a Reserve, LBV, Crusted or Vintage Port.

    The wines have a fresher and drier style, even the 10 and 20 year old Tawny Ports go through an initial ageing period in large wood vats and only in a second phase they age in 600 to 650 liter wood casks, which helps to maintain the fruit freshness, which is precisely the main feature of Churchill's Tawny Ports. In these wines the expression conferred by the wood ageing is not as pronouced as is the case with most tawnies from other houses.
    The character of Churchill's wines: a characteristic style, structured wines, rich, complex, with soft tannins and a good balance between freshness, minerality and acidity. 

"My Ports are made with as much natural fermentation, and with as little fortification brandy as possible. I like to make wines in the most natural way. Above all I look for balance. I believe I brought this balance to Churchill's Ports. There is a consensus about the characteristics that define our house style which are easily identified." John Graham

    Churchill's continues to be essentially a Port wine company, however, currently the production is divided into approximately 50% Port wine and 50% DOC Douro wine.
    Chruchill's exports approximately 80% of its Port and DOC Douro wine production. The U.K., the U.S., Sweden, Brazil, are the main markets among many others. The national portuguese market represents about 20% of all the sales.

The Churchill's portfolio, fortified and non fortified wines

Port wine

Churchill's dry white Port
Churchill's 10, 20 and 30 year old Tawny Port
Churchill´s Reserve Port
Churchill's LBV Port
Churchill's Crusted Port
Churchill's Quinta da Gricha Vintage Port (Single Quinta Vintage Port)
Churchill's Vintage Port

DOC Douro wine

Meio Queijo, white and red
Churchill's Estates Douro rosé, white and red
Churchill's Estates Touriga Nacional
Churchill's Estates Grande Reserva red
Quinta da Gricha red
and the most recent:
Gricha red (a new wine made from the same Quinta old vineyard but in a more "burgundy" style, in a lighter style, less extracted, but without loosing the finesse, quality and struture of the wines made from the old Gricha vineyard).

Quinta da Gricha Talhão 8 (vinified and fermented in robotic lagares, in the table wines winery, the malolactic fermentation and ageing is made in 500 liter wood casks).

Churchill's Vintage Ports
The list of the vintage Port wines produced by Churchill's from 1982 to 2016. 1999 was the year when a vintage Port made with grapes from Quinta da Gricha was produced for the first time.

Churchill's Port Fojo Single Quinta Vintage:
1984 - 1986 - 1989

Churchill's Vintage Porto Quinta da Água Alta:
1983 - 1987 - 1990 - 1992 - 1995 - 1996 - 1998

Churchill's Quinta da Gricha Vintage Port:
1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016 - 2017

Churchill's Vintage Port:
1982 - 1985 - 1991 - 1994 - 1997 - 2000 - 2003 - 2007 - 2011 - 2014 - 2016 - 2017

Quinta da Gricha, Ervedosa do Douro, 5130-108 S. João da Pesqueira
Geographical coordinates latitude N: 41.18980º and longitude E: -7.47119º
T.: +351 254 422 136   email:

Churchill's (headquarters and visitors centre in Vila Nova de Gaia)
Rua da Fonte Nova, n.º 5, 4400-156 Vila Nova de Gaia
T.: +351 22 370 36 41   email:

Visitors centre T.: +351 22 371 41 93, T.: +351 22 370 36 41, m.: +351 91 310 60 66   email:

The notes:

(1) Cardenho: the house or dormitory building destined to the quinta workers and the rogas (the grape harvest teams) during the harvest season.
(2) Lagares: the traditional stone (granite or schist) treading tanks.
(3) Class "A" vineyards: a system of qualitative vineyard classification used in the Douro region, by which the vineyards are selected according to a scale from the letter "A" to the letter "F", applying a scoring method that evaluates certain parameters with a determining importance to the vineyard qualitative potential - the elements considered are: location - altitude - productivity - soil type - vineyard management system - the grape varieties - the land slope - exposure - soil texture - the vine age - shelter - the plantation density.
The application of a scoring system to each of these parameters results a classification that corresponds to a class, being "A" the highest. (source: IVDP, the Douro and Port Wine Institute).
(4) PDRITM program: the integrated rural development of "Trás-os-Montes" region was a financing program, applicable to the planting of new vineyards and the convertion and renewal of existing vineyards.

Our thanks to Ricardo Pinto Nunes for all the useful informations and clarifications.


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