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Quinta do Vallado’s research on the preservation of old vine parcels

The brave winegrower from Quinta do Vallado

02.06.2016

Joao Ferreira Alvares Ribeiro kann mit Recht stolz sein: Sein Weingut Quinta do Vallado zählt mit einer Fläche von 70 Hektar zu den bedeutendsten in ganz Portugal. Bei der Bepflanzung der Quinta verfolgt man erstaunlicher Weise keine streng sortenreine Bebauung. Vielmehr gewinnt Ribeiro aus einer eindrucksvollen und beachtlichen Menge unterschiedlicher Rebsorten seine speziellen Mischungen, für die er als Mitglied der Douro Boys international bekannt ist.

Douro Boys Francisco Ferreira Joao Ferreira Alvares Ribeiro 2008 © Quinta do Vallado
Owner: Francisco Ferreira and João Ferreira Álvares Ribeiro photo credit: Quinta do Vallado

Ambitions for the future

In the Douro, labelling a wine Vinhas Velhas refers not only to the venerable age of the vines from where it originated, it also means that a range of different grape types were planted together in these parcels and have grown alongside one another. This field blend is one of the significant factors that tend to characterise an estate and its most emblematic wines. The Quinta do Vallado, for example, cultivates 70 hectares of vineyards; ten of these are more than one hundred years old. In order to ensure their continued survival, the estate has conceived an ambitious conservation and revitalisation strategy.

Douro Boys Weinberg von Quinta do Vallado mit über 100 Jahre alten Reben ©Quinta do Vallado
Old vines at Quinta do Vallado photo credit: Quinta do Vallado

Variety Classification

At the moment Vallado is faced with needing to replace or regraft some 10,000 plants in their old vines parcels – around 10%. In order to prevent the character of the vineyard from becoming altered in the process, it is essential to determine exactly which grape varieties are indeed growing in these precious vineyards and in what proportion. Since 2014 the team at Vallado has been meticulously researching the nature of each individual plant (so far 9,000), and can today say that they have identified – believe it or not – 45 different grape varieties.

Red varieties:

Tinta Roriz (25%) Cornifesto (2%) Castelã (1%) Alicante Boushet (0.2%) Ferral (0.05%)
T. Amarela (25%) Carignan (2%) Tinta Bairrada (0.5%) Carrega Tinto (0.2%) Formosa (0.05%)
Moreto (5%) Mourisco (1%) Tinta Pomar (0.5%) Diagalves (0.2%) Alicante Espanhol (0.05%)
T. Franca (4%) Alvarelhão (1%) Português Azul (0.5%) Preto Martinho (0.1%) Lorela (0.02%)
Malvasia Preta (4%) T. Francisca (1%) T. Bastardinha (0.5%) Sousão (0.1%) Tinto Sem Nome (0.02%)
T. Nacional (2%) Malvasia Rei Preta (1%) Trincadeira (0.3%) Tinto Cão (0.1%) Carnal (0.01%)
Tinta Barroca (2%) Bastardo (1%) Tinta da Barca (0.3%) Grand Noir (0.05%) Piriquita (0.01%)

 

White varieties:

Malvasia Rei (13%) Malvasia Fina (0.8%) Sarigo (0.1%) Fernão Pires (0.05%) Moscatel Galego (0.01%)
Touriga Branca (0.9%) Rabigato (0.2%) Códega (0.1%) Gouveio Estimado (0.03%) Estreito Macio (0.01%)

 

Regrafting and Replacement

In order to preserve the complex composition of the vineyards – and thus the character of the wines they produce – individual varieties must be replaced according to the same proportions found in the original field blend. To maintain the high quality standards of the wines produced by these vineyards, and to keep up with volume demands, viticulturists at Quinta do Vallado shall replace grape varieties of a lesser quality. For example, the types Mourisco and Malvasia Preta; the latter is well known for being susceptible to rot. An extremely labour-intensive strategy for regrafting shall be implemented. Simultaneously, they intend to replace fragile plants with greater probability of a short term death. As such, a procedure of plant rejuvenation is now in place, targeting the vines in worst conditions. This process is being implemented with great care and sensitivity, in order not to endanger the distinctive character of the vineyard.

Douro Boys 100 Jahre alter Rebstock © Quinta do Vallado
Old vine photo credit: Quinta do Vallado

The responsibility of preserving a legacy with an eye towards the future

The proprietors João Ferreira Alvares Ribeiro and Francisco Ferreira are convinced:
In order to produce top quality wines in the future, we must preserve and improve the quality of our vines. At the same time, we must remain sensitive to the value of this heritage, guaranteeing that we do not change the unique character of these vineyards.

To a substantial degree, the need for setting this objective arises from the increase in demand for wines from these traditional vineyards. Awareness concerning the particular distinctive character of Douro’s wines is growing consistently among wine connoisseurs. The Vinhas Velhas wines of the Douro Valley are among the most precious insider tips in the world of fine wine.

Quinta do Vallado

The history of the Quinta do Vallado can be divided into two stages. From the time of its founding (1716) until 1987, it produced mostly fortified wines, which were marketed by the Ferreira family’s Port house. The second segment began in the year 1990 when they began producing and selling red and white wines under the name Quinta do Vallado. Since 2002, when the changeover of the vineyards was completed, the Quinta do Vallado has been cultivating a total area of more than 70 hectares, of which 15 hectares are planted with particularly old vines. Their entrepreneurial spirit has recently expressed itself with innovations in the realm of tourism: in the last eleven years, João Ferreira Alvares Ribeiro and his cousin Francisco Ferreira have opened two hotels: in 2005 the enchanting Country Hotel in the historic main building of the Quinta, which was extended in 2012 with a new modern building mainly made with schist, and in 2015 Casa do Rio, a romantic inn in the Upper Douro, close to the Spanish border.

PICTURES (downloadable)