João Ferreira Alvares Ribeiro and his cousin Francisco Ferreira, owners of Quinta do Vallado in the Douro Valley in Portugal, have every right to celebrate. For the very first time since the recorded founding of the winery in 1716, Quinta do Vallado has declared a Vintage Port.
The fact that no Vintage Port was produced for almost 300 years at Quinta do Vallado has got nothing to do with it not being able to produce a satisfactory quality to produce Vintage Port, nor that the hot and dry 2009 vintage offered the perfect conditions for it to do so…. The truth is a different story altogether, and is down the historical development of the Quinta.
The Quinta do Vallado lies on the outskirts of the town Regua, along the Rio Corgo tributary. The estate was one of the first Quintas purchased by the legendary Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira (1811-1896). This highly entrepreneurial woman took over the management of the Ferreira business, having been made a widow at just 33 years old. She successively bought and founded a whole empire of Quintas during the course of her life, gaining both prosperity and respect, and she invested her wealth in the local Douro valley infrastructure; in roads, schools and hospitals.
The grapes and wines from her Quintas (including Quinta do Vallado) were produced for Port sold under the name of “Ferreira”, one of the most respected Port shippers. When the sixth generation of Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira took the helm of the Quinta in the 1990s, they – João Alvares Ribeiro and Francisco Ferreira – decided to produce their own wines and market them using the Quinta do Vallado label. The range of wine primarily includes the white and red DOC Douro wines, along with a selection of Tawny Ports.
The exceptional 2009 vintage is finally provided Quinta do Vallado with the opportunity to produce a Vintage Port; the king of all Port. The grapes come from predominantly old vines sites planted with a mixture of local, indigenous grape varieties, with around 40 percent of the blend coming from the estate’s own single-vineyard Touriga Nacional sites. Typically for the Douro region, the grapes were crushed by foot and fermented in the traditional lagares.
The name for Quinta do Vallado’s first declared Vintage Port has been chosen as “Vallado Adelaide Vintage Port” by João Alvares Ribeiro and Francisco Ferreira, in honour of their famous ancestor, Dona Antónia. The Port displays impressive dark fruit aromas and a highly complex body, supported by supple tannins and an uplifting finish. Vintage Port is bottled after two or three years maturation in oak casks and continues to develop in the bottle. Port is traditionally enjoyed after twenty or thirty years bottle maturation, yet in recent years, a bottle of Vintage Port has been increasingly opened after just 5 years, whilst the wine is still showing primary fruit characters.
Quinta do Vallado
There are two formative stages in Quinta do Vallado’s history; the period from its founding in 1716 until 1987, when Port was predominantly produced for the Ferreira family shippers label, and the second stage which started in 1990, when it began to produce dry white and red wines, and bottle them using the “Quinta do Vallado” label. The restructuring of the vineyards was completed in 2002, and Quinta do Vallado currently cultivates a total vineyard area of 64 hectares, of which 38 hectares are new vineyards. Twenty six hectares still include sites with very old vines. In 2005, Quinta do Vallado opened its “Country Hotel“ within the main part of the historical Quinta property. The hotel offers romantic accommodation with a luxurious pool set amongst orange trees and it serves typically Portuguese cuisine. Today, the Quinta do Vallado estate is managed by João Ferreira Alvares Ribeiro and his cousin Francisco Ferreira. Their cousin Francisco Olazabal from the Quinta do Vale Meão, holds the position of head oenologist.