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Douro Boys

There are no bad vintages anymore!


The Douro Boys (Quinta do Vallado, Quinta do Crasto, Niepoort, Quinta Vale D.Maria & Quinta do Vale Meão) can look back on a year of crazy turns in the weather, which in the final scheme of things did not cause these well-seasoned winegrowers to lose all that much sleep… The vineyard managers and cellarmasters at these estates have become accustomed to coping with extreme climatic conditions and then vinifying extremely expressive wines, making multiple passes through the vineyards at harvest followed by careful and meticulous work in the cellar.

The old vines in the Douro Valley @ Quinta do Vallado

One can no longer imagine the world’s best wine lists without still wines from the Douro River Valley in the north of Portugal. This state of affairs can be attributed in good part to the dedicated work done in recent years by the ‘Douro Boys. These five wineries prove once more with each new vintage that they belong to the world elite ¬– and in addition, in three distinct categories: red wine, white wine and fortified wine!

The last few years have confirmed that the five member estates in the group are also able to deal with capricious weather conditions. Vintage 2018 is just more proof of that.

Manuel Lobo, winemaker at Quinta do Crasto, tells us: 2018 was a challenging year for our entire team – in the vineyard as well as in the cellar. We had a very dry winter, followed by heavy rainfall throughout the spring. By contrast, August was very dry and hot. Our great luck was the splendid weather in autumn: hot days with very cool nights. This resulted in very well balanced fruit with good physiologic ripeness. These wines will have very impressive aging potential once they get in the bottle!

Francisco Ferreira, the proprietor of Quinta do Vallado, confirms this: We had a lot of rain, some heavy hailstorms and then heat waves. Everything one could imagine, so to speak. Nevertheless, we are extremely happy about this vintage. We were able to harvest very healthy grapes, and the wines are showing very concentrated, elegant & fresh!

Luis Pedro of Niepoort/Quinta de Nápoles vinified his first harvest for Niepoort this year, and comments: The harvest lasted a long time for us, and it was a very special year. Quantitatively, the vintage produced less volume than the one before. Quality is exceptionally good. The white wines are developing wonderfully, with modest alcohol and well-integrated acidity. The reds this year are – although quite fruit-forward – extremely fresh and light. That’s precisely our style!

2018 shows much promise for Port as well – the coming months will reveal if it is declared a vintage, and if so, by which houses.

Festa do Douro 2016- Douro Boys. Francisco Ferreira, Rui Paula, Luisa Olazabal, Vitor Matos, Dirk Niepoort. Quinda de Nápoles , 26 de Junho de 2016. Fotografia de Jorge Simão
Douro Boys: Dirk van der Niepoort, Cristiano van Zeller (Quinta Vale D. Maria), Tomás Roquette (Quinta do Crasto), João Ferreira Álvares Ribeiro (Quinta do Vallado), Francisco Olazabal (Quinta do Vale Meão) © Jorge Simão

Why the Douro defies climate change and why there are no bad vintages anymore:
The expectations for and demands place upon the quality of Douro wines have risen appreciably in recent years. Along with the extraordinary passion of the winegrowers for their wines and their unique landscape in the Douro Valley, it is the complexity of the region that makes it possible to consistently produce wines of the highest quality. Of course, there are some vineyards that handle climatic turbulence less well, and hailstorms that can endanger an entire crop – but seen as a whole, the Douro Valley takes what the weather gives it, producing wonderful grapes year after year. This is partly due to the many different expositions (west, south, east and north) and the old vines, some of which are eighty years of age – or even older. Over the decades, they have ‘learned’ to cope with heat spikes and equally dramatic volumes of rainfall. Their roots penetrate very deeply into the soil, due to the slightly brittle nature of the slate, and thus always find adequate nutrients to nourish the vine. And in addition, the knowledge of the winegrowers has also grown – and they most certainly have certainly gained a lot of experience with extreme vintages over the last two decades.

Apply now! ‘Educational visit for sommeliers’.
From 24–27 February 2019 the Douro Boys will once again invite top sommeliers working in the hospitality industry to make an informative and exciting trip to the Douro Valley. Three places are still available on this voyage of discovery – please send your applications immediately to:
Andrea Schultes, Wine & Partners:

Videos of the growers presenting their views on the harvest can be found here: