Robert Parker, from the American bimonthly publication, The Wine Advocate, has given charismatic winemaker Cristiano van Zeller from the Douro Valley something to really cheer about. Van Zeller is known for his charm, his eloquence, his passion for a good celebration and he loves to enjoy life. His red ‘Tinto’ wine Quinta do Vale Dona Maria 2009 has been rated with an extraordinary 96 points. This means that his Douro DOC wine is one of the highest rated wines from Portugal (with Parker previously awarding 96 points to only three wines).
Quinta Vale D. Maria 2009 is produced from traditional Portuguese indigenous grape varieties, such as Touriga Nacional, Tinta Amarela, Rufete, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa and Sousão. The old vines all grow together in the same vineyard, as a mixed field blend. Just like virtually all of the other wines that Cristiano van Zeller produces, the grapes for Vale D. Maria were treaded by foot in the traditional Lagares, prior to maturation in oak barriques. This wine displays an impressive deep black colour and exudes highly attractive aromas of raspberry and red cherry over fine notes of bittersweet chocolate and plum.
The Vale D. Maria was rated by Robert Parker’s Portugal taster Mark Squires, who was not only impressed by its exceptional structure and balance, but he also gave it a remarkably long cellaring potential. He notes that, “This year, it has a sexiness to it that is captivating. Yet, that is certainly not all it has…..The tannins are obvious, sometimes hard edged, but they are ultimately going to integrate. In its youth, the oak is also a touch obvious, but it is equally clear that will integrate, too….Put this in the cellar and come back in 5-6 years…It will be a contender for one of the best Vale D. Marias. It will be a contender for wine of the vintage…”
A number of Cristiano van Zeller’s other wines also received a high accolade, and Mark Squires closes by stating that, “This is the best lineup overall I’ve seen from the Van Zeller stable”.
93 Points – Casa de Casal de Loivos 2009 Douro Red
90+ Points – CV – Curriculum Vitae 2009 Douro Red
90 Points – Van Zellers 2009 Douro Red
90 Points – Van Zellers 2010 Douro White
To put the Douro on the Map
With this exceptional rating, Cristiano van Zeller has also maintained the continued Portuguese success for the Douro Boys, a group of five highly respected Portuguese wine producers based in the Douro Valley, of which he is a member. Just recently, at the end of November 2011, the Douro Boys received amazing ratings with three wines making it into the Wine Spectator Top 100 List.
Since the Douro Boys group was founded in 2003, they have been committed to quality and to increasing the awareness of Portuguese wines throughout the world. The five families, (Roquette/ Quinta do Crasto, Olazabal/Quinta do Vale Meao, Van Zeller/Quinta do Vale D. Maria, Niepoort /Niepoort and Ferreira/Quinta do Vallado), formed the first group to actively promote Portuguese wines across the world. They travel continuously throughout all five continents to present and promote the outstanding potential of the Douro Valley to wine connoisseurs and consumers. Their commitment to each other, coupled with their relentless passion and enthusiasm for their work and the unique terroir of the Douro Valley, is the basis for their success. There shall be a great deal more to expect in future years and decades, as the Douro Boys still have a lot to do!
Quinta do Vale Dona Maria
In 1993, Cristiano van Zeller left Quinta do Noval, which is one of Portugal’s most historically significant Port producers, and where he held the functions of both part-owner and managing director. Two years later in 1995, he bought his first vineyards (Quinta de Vale da Mina), which was swiftly followed by the purchase of Quinta do Vale Dona Maria (the estate owned by his wife Joana’s family for 250 years) in 1996. This very old ‘quinta’ estate, which now has fifteen hectares under vine (10 hectares of these vineyards are over 50 years old), is situated in the Rio Torto valley, a tributary that runs into the River Douro. It faces south-south east, and is located right in the heart of the Douro Valley. The meagre soil structure along the Rio Torto provide ideal conditions for high quality wine production. Both dry red wines and Port have a deep concentration and magnificent tannins, and develop into beautifully elegant wines following a period of maturation in oak, and become increasingly harmonious and have a lingering aftertaste. www.valedonamaria.com