OUR PRODUCERS IN PORTUGAL
Foz Torto, Pinhao – Douro Valley
Foz Torto, is a small, family owned winery with very old vineyards (at least 60 years old) in the best quality vineyard area of the Douro around the town of Pinhao in the Cima Corgo.
The grapes are a field blend of many different local Portuguese grape varieties grown on schist soil on steep, terraced slopes looking down on the Douro River. Abilio Tavares da Silva, the charming owner of this small, quality-focussed domaine, tends the vineyards and looks after the sales whilst highly respected Sandra Tavares Da Silva of Pintas and Quinta a Manoela fame (no relation!) makes the wines.
Production really is tiny – they currently make no more than 3000 bottles of their Vinhas Velhas Douro blend – but this is a wonderful boutique Douro wine for the future.
Quinta da Chocapalha – Lisboa
This wonderful quinta in the Alenquer hills, 40kms northeast of Lisbon, is owned by Alice and Paulo Tavares Da Silva. Alice is Swiss and their daughter, Sandra, makes some of the best reds in Portugal at the moment at the 3 Douro estates of Pintas, Quinta Manoella and Foz Torto.
The estate comprises around 45 hectares of vines, mainly indigenous Portuguese grape varieties, and a good proportion of vines date back to the 1980s when they purchased the estate. Although the quinta itself and surrounding vines date back to the 16th century, there is nothing antiquated about the winery, which is built into a hillside and contains the latest in winemaking equipment.Particularly important to Chocapalha’s unique and very appealing winestyle are the state of the art mechanical lagares (robotic treading machines) which replicate the job of foot treading and give very soft, plush, velvety tannins to the wines.
Although considerably further south than the Douro Valley, this wine region, which used to be known as Estremedura but is now simply called IGP Lisboa, benefits from cool, foggy mornings and evenings, and a constant cooling breeze blowing from the Atlantic Ocean 30kms to the west. Average Summer temperatures here fall between 25 and 30C, which is considerably lower than the Douro valley where temperatures in July and August regularly exceed 40C. The resulting wines from Chocopalha always have a freshness and verve which makes them extremely easy to drink!
Vinha Paz – Dao
This is a top quality, small, family-owned winery with 7 hectares of old (between 36 and 60 year old) vines on one of the best, granite terroirs of the Dao region. Only traditional, local grapes are used to produce both red and white wines here, but the Dao is blessed to have such characterful grapes as the red Jaen and Touriga Nacional, and the whuite Encruzado – all of which can make unique and wonderful wines. The winery itself is a simple, Burgundian-style cellar – full of new and used oak barrels – but with the exception of its granite lagares, where the grapes are trodden by foot to soften the often-astringent tannins of the Jaen grape.
The wines are elegant, fine and fresh; a perfect mix of traditional and modern, packed with flavours unique to this region but pure and clean, with no hints of rusticity.
D’Oliveiras – Madeira
D’Oliveiras is an old family firm which has produced fine Madeiras from 1850.They have a wonderful stock of rare single vintage Madeiras produced only in the best quality vintages of the last 150 years. Grapes are sourced from a selection of vineyards throughout the island and fortified during fermentation with grape spirit to stop further fermentation. The wines are then aged in large vats and barrels stored under the rafters of the D’Oliveiras warehouse, where they are subject to the baking heat of the summer and the deep cold temperatures of winter. Only when the wines are ordered by a customer do they leave these casks for bottling. This method of vinification is unique to Madeira and is responsible for the complex and totally individual range of flavours in the wine.
We have tasted through a large range of their older vintages and carefully selected the wines we liked the most; not an easy job because every wine without exception in their range was extremely good! Please cast aside any ideas you may have that Madeira is no more than an old man’s drink; every one of the wines below will thrill and amaze you. Perfect as an aperitif or after dinner drink any time from September to April when the temperatures outside cool down.