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Quinta Vale D Maria, Douro 2011

Red Wine from Portugal
Full-bodied and impressive, this comes from Cristiano Van Zeller’s own vineyards, where the grapes are foot-trodden in traditional open lagares, for rich texture and velvety tannins. Still remarkably youthful, with some sweet oak and enticing floral perfume; powerful yet balanced by remarkable freshness. Low stock: Limited to six bottles per member.
is no longer available
Code: PW4421

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Very full and rich
  • 15% Alcohol
  • Oak used but not v. noticeable
  • Now to 2030
  • 75cl
  • Cork, natural

Portugal

Like its neighbour Spain, Portugal has been undergoing something of a quiet revolution over the last twenty years or so. A reluctance to follow trends and plant international grapes is now paying dividends and the new breed of full-blooded, fruit-filled wines are more than able to compete on the world stage. The unique flavours that are the hallmark of Portugal's indigenous grape varieties have become its trump card.

Vinho Verde, sometimes spritzy and youthful and sometimes made with the aim of creating a more serious white wine, is in the verdant north-west, bordering the Spanish province of Galicia. A wet and fertile area, the grapes ripen with moderate sugar levels and refreshing acidity, meaning that the wines are usually lowish in alcohol at about 10-11%. Astringent, low alcohol red Vinho Verde is also produced.

Trás-os-Montes is a remote region of harsh winters and hot, dry summers in the north-east of the country is bound on one side by high mountains and on the other the...
Like its neighbour Spain, Portugal has been undergoing something of a quiet revolution over the last twenty years or so. A reluctance to follow trends and plant international grapes is now paying dividends and the new breed of full-blooded, fruit-filled wines are more than able to compete on the world stage. The unique flavours that are the hallmark of Portugal's indigenous grape varieties have become its trump card.

Vinho Verde, sometimes spritzy and youthful and sometimes made with the aim of creating a more serious white wine, is in the verdant north-west, bordering the Spanish province of Galicia. A wet and fertile area, the grapes ripen with moderate sugar levels and refreshing acidity, meaning that the wines are usually lowish in alcohol at about 10-11%. Astringent, low alcohol red Vinho Verde is also produced.

Trás-os-Montes is a remote region of harsh winters and hot, dry summers in the north-east of the country is bound on one side by high mountains and on the other the border with Spain (the name means 'behind the mountains'. The schistous soils and the grapes are similar to those of the Douro. Reds are often lighter and more aromatic than those of neighbouring Douro.

The Douro is one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world, and deservedly Portugal's best known, the Douro has quickly emerged to lead the way as the country's premium wine region and there is a real pioneering spirit amongst the winemakers here, port shippers included. Although there is an enormous variety of different terroirs within the Douro Valley, this is essentially a sparsely populated, hot, arid region where grapes are grown on spectacularly steep terraced slopes. Wine grapes are the same as those that go into Port. Wines tend to be high in tannin and flavour.

Dão is south of the Douro on granite slopes protected by high mountains and pine forests. The region produces one of Portugal's better-known reds of the same name. Once dominated by rather lack-lustre co-operatives, the area now has a whole clutch of dynamic, small producers making elegant, approachable and enjoyable wines.

Between the mountains and the coast, on fertile clay soils, is Bairrada (barro is Portuguese for clay). Better known for red wines, this is one of the only wine regions in Portugal to be dominated by a single grape variety,the tannic, high-acid baga, making wines that can be tough and astringent in their youth but which soften with age, becoming beguilingly perfumed. These days many blend baga with non-indigenous grapes to make a friendlier style, but the greatest are pure baga. The area also benefits from late-afternoon breezes which favour the production of fresh, food-friendly whites and increasingly popular sparkling wines.

Beira Interior is a rather disparate region covering a vast swathe of inland Portugal south of the Douro and east of Dão. Vineyards are grown at altitude on granite soils. In the north, grapes are similar to those of the Douro while the south has a whole mix of varieties.

Lisboa is a large, coastal region that runs north from Lisbon. Atlantic breezes help cool the vineyards and maintain the fresh acidity and aromatics in the mostly white wines. North of Bucelas, on the Atlantic west coast lies the strip of rolling countryside that contains nine separate DOCs under the umbrella name of Lisboa. This is Portugal's largest wine producing region in volume terms.

Bucelas was the first wine The Society ever sold! This tiny DOC is one of the closest to Lisbon. It produces breezy dry whites which are popular locally.

Tejo was formerly known as Ribatejo is known for good, everyday drinking wines in a range of styles from a wide range of permitted grapes. This region lies on either side of the River Tagus

Lying across the mouth of theTagus river, the Península de Setúbal is a flat, sandy region with the exception of the Serra da Arrábida a short chain of mountains with clay and limestone soils. There are two DOCs here, Palmela north-east of the peninsula where the castelão grape is ideally suited to the sandy soils, and Setúbal, where a sweet fortified wine is made primarily from muscat of Alexandria.

The Alentejo province stretches south from the Tagus to the Algarve and east to the border with Spain and covers almost a third of continental Portugal. Divided into seven diverse sub-regions, the undulating hills are home to many crops. Despite the challengingly arid climate here, this is a dynamic region, referred to sometimes as Portugal's 'new world'.
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Quinta Vale D. Maria

This old property is situated in the heart of the Douro Valley and is owned and run by the talented Cristiano van Zeller. He had spent time working at Quinta do Noval, the historic port house, but left in 1993 to found his own independent winery, with ambitions not just to produce port but also to showcase how much more the Douro region has to offer in terms of still wines.

In 1996 he bought Quinta Vale D. Maria, an ancient, run-down property in the Rio Torto valley which at the time only had 10 hectares of vineyards. Although small, this vineyard was full of very good old vines – over 50 years old – which were planted on south and south-east facing slopes. The vines covered a broad spectrum of traditional Douro grape varieties, including tinta roriz, touriga nacional, tinta amarela, rufete, tinta barroca and sousão.

Over the next ten years, Cristiano went about expanding his vineyards, and he now has 31 hectares in total: 16 of his own old vines (which are between 60 and 80 years old), 10 hectares of vineyards on a long-term lease from neighbouring properties, (with vines ranging from 25 to 80 years old) and five hectares of brand new vines planted between 2004 and 2007.

The winery had to be rebuilt as well, and while it still has some elements of tradition (such as treading the grapes by foot when producing port) it also has innovative machinery to improve quality, including temperature-controlled granite and stainless-steel tanks and a modern vertical basket press. The...
This old property is situated in the heart of the Douro Valley and is owned and run by the talented Cristiano van Zeller. He had spent time working at Quinta do Noval, the historic port house, but left in 1993 to found his own independent winery, with ambitions not just to produce port but also to showcase how much more the Douro region has to offer in terms of still wines.

In 1996 he bought Quinta Vale D. Maria, an ancient, run-down property in the Rio Torto valley which at the time only had 10 hectares of vineyards. Although small, this vineyard was full of very good old vines – over 50 years old – which were planted on south and south-east facing slopes. The vines covered a broad spectrum of traditional Douro grape varieties, including tinta roriz, touriga nacional, tinta amarela, rufete, tinta barroca and sousão.

Over the next ten years, Cristiano went about expanding his vineyards, and he now has 31 hectares in total: 16 of his own old vines (which are between 60 and 80 years old), 10 hectares of vineyards on a long-term lease from neighbouring properties, (with vines ranging from 25 to 80 years old) and five hectares of brand new vines planted between 2004 and 2007.

The winery had to be rebuilt as well, and while it still has some elements of tradition (such as treading the grapes by foot when producing port) it also has innovative machinery to improve quality, including temperature-controlled granite and stainless-steel tanks and a modern vertical basket press. The all female winemaking team uses a mixture of one to four year old French oak barrels to mature its wines.

We buy Rufo, the quinta’s entry-level range. Rufo means ‘red’ in Latin and features a red drum on the label. The name was inspired by both the red-legged partridge, which lives in this part of the Douro, and by the Portuguese word for the sound of the drum, rufar. The 2011 vintage was a winner in our Wine Championship tastings in 2014.

The wine serves as a great introduction to Cristiano’s more complex and ageworthy reds, notably Quinta do Vale D. Maria Douro itself and its Vinha da Francisca, named after Cristiano's daughter who now works with him.
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Portugal Vintage 2011

Good, well-balanced wines were made with the north shining, particularly in vinho verde country. The residual water left over from the wet winter of 2010 and further rain in the following winter was important in sustaining the vines in this drier summer, particularly for the Douro and Bairrada, and this was topped up with some late August and September rain. The harvest there was carried out in excellent conditions by and large and it has ended up being a very good vintage indeed, particularly for tourigan nacional and touriga franca. Reds across Portugal did well and some lovely whites were made in regions such as Beiras, Minho (vinho verde), Bairrada, Dão, Lisboa and Setúbal.

Port - 2011 is only the second universal declaration since 2003 and there really is excellence throughout, marked by great purity of fruit, minerality and freshness overlaying richness and power. There is exceptional depth of colour and concentration of flavour, with wild-berry fruit and bitter-chocolate to the...
Good, well-balanced wines were made with the north shining, particularly in vinho verde country. The residual water left over from the wet winter of 2010 and further rain in the following winter was important in sustaining the vines in this drier summer, particularly for the Douro and Bairrada, and this was topped up with some late August and September rain. The harvest there was carried out in excellent conditions by and large and it has ended up being a very good vintage indeed, particularly for tourigan nacional and touriga franca. Reds across Portugal did well and some lovely whites were made in regions such as Beiras, Minho (vinho verde), Bairrada, Dão, Lisboa and Setúbal.

Port - 2011 is only the second universal declaration since 2003 and there really is excellence throughout, marked by great purity of fruit, minerality and freshness overlaying richness and power. There is exceptional depth of colour and concentration of flavour, with wild-berry fruit and bitter-chocolate to the fore, all built on a foundation of well-structured tannins that will provide for a long, long life. There had been rumours at harvest time that great things were expected and it is pleasing to be able to say that the vintage does not disappoint.
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2011 vintage reviews

JancisRobinson.com

Vibrant crimson. Veryluscious and correct. Shows the fluidity of modern Douro red superbly. Not hot.Not tough, just beautiful fruit.

- Jancis Robinson

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