Quinta Vale Dona Maria & Lemos Van Zeller
A Drive Through The Torto River Valley
|Arriving at the front gate of Quinta Vale D. Maria|
As we rode the twisting and winding road through the Torto River Valley to our next Quinta, the narrow and mostly guard rail free path hugged the steep hillsides and offered picturesque views across the valley to other Quinta literally hugging the hillsides with their steep and terraced vineyards. A common site in the Douro, it was very different for some reason to see the vineyards from this perspective. Maybe it was the different light, exposure or grade of the hillsides, but I quickly realized it really did not matter so I just sat back and took in the views. Somewhere 15 minutes down the winding road was our next visit to Quinta Vale Dona Maria in the Torto River Valley which runs south and east from the Douro River. The Torto River is a tributary of the Douro River that carved out the valley that carries its name many centuries ago.
|Douro Valley terroir cross-section, this is schist rock, not so much soil.|
|The entrance to the Quinta Vale D. Maria facilities|
Joana gave us an overview of the vineyards that make up the estate property in the Torto River Valley. East of the Quinta, on a steep hillside facing us and then below us on what looked like a mound of earth, were prime vineyards that were some of the 60+ old vineyard sources for what I thought was the best wine I tasted that day, the Tinto Quinta Vale D Maria.
|The dark green vertical vineyard on the far ridge is part of the source for Quinta Vale D. Maria|
|The main vineyard source of the Quinta Vale D. Maria and some of their oldest vines at about 65 years old.|
Cristiano van Zeller (married to Joana) is the rejuvenating founder and director of all businesses of the 200+ year old brand name that carries his family’s name and Vale Dona Maria. He was away on business during our visit so we did not get to meet him. The winemaker for most of the earlier vintages and current consultant was our friend from Wine & Soul Sandra Tavares da Silva. On this day though it was obvious that Joana was running the show, and she was busy making sure the Quinta is on schedule for the looming harvest that was just days away.
|Lagares for foot treading of the grapes, the best wines in the Douro all receive this treatment.|
|Fermentation tanks and barrels busting at the seams.|
|Joana Pinhao explaining the wine making process at Quinta Vale D. Maria|
|Barrels racked 4 high.|
|The four red wines we tasted at Quinta Vale D. Maria.|
|Picture time at Quinta Vale D. Maria, what a view!|
|Van Zellers Blanco 2011|
Van Zellers Douro Blanco (White) 2011 Fresh, with a little leesiness that adds roundness to the texture; mango, pineapple, some minerality and fresh citrus with a long, clean finish. 100% steel. 6,000 bottles produced
|Rufo Douro Tinto 2010|
2010 Hufu Douro Tinto (Red)
60/40 blend of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca
Aged 12 months in neutral oak barrels
Bright red flavors, juicy and exuberant, crushed raspberries, black cherry, very accessible and easy to drink. 40,000 bottles produced.
|Van Zellers Tinto 2010|
2010 Van Zellers Tinto (Red)
7 grape varieties, with the majority being Touriga France and Touriga Nacional. 20% comes from older 35 year old vineyards, 18 months neutral oak
20,000 bottles in 2009/11,000 in 2011
Notes of black cherry, tobacco, licorice, blueberries, with supple tannins and good acidity.
|Quinta Vale D. Maria Douro Tinto 2010|
2010 Quinta Vale D. Maria Douro Tinto (Red)
Made of 40+ different Portuguese grape varieties from vines averaging 60 years old. Dark ruby red in color with vibrant red edges. A beautiful and persistent nose, full bodied but seem like it is medium to full because it is so well balanced. Elegant red fruits like cherry, plum and currants abound. Suave and ripe tannins mesh well with ample acidity, a long and persistent finish. Well balanced and very classic in terms of well made old world red wines from Europe, a very classy wine.
20,000 bottles production; 21 months in oak, of which I am told 60% was new and the rest neutral barrel.
|The electric 2011 Reserva Port Lot #11|
2010 Reserva Port Lot #10
A juicy, drier style, in the glass as it settles down. A small streak of fine grilled herbs, black cherry, oodles of blue berries. The finish sails on, long and easy. 2011 Reserva Port Lot #11
Dense, intense, yet elegant and crazy long, persistent and clean, fresh on the palate weight wise and on the finish. Oodles of blackberry, creamy blueberry, cherry and roasted herbs, this is a case buy for sure!