Francisco Ferreira is an enterprising fellow. Quinta do Vallado has belonged to his family for almost two centuries. It provided grapes for the family Port house, but was not included in the sale of Port Ferreira to Sogrape in 1987. Francisco has been building it up as an independent business since then, acquiring another quinta (in the Douro Superior), and expanding into a chic boutique hotel that now sits besides the new winery at Vallado. Typical of the new independent producer in the Douro, production of table wine is greater than Port. He produces both varietal wines and blends.
Over lunch followed by a tasting we went through many of the table wines and Ports.
Francisco is enthusiastic about Touriga Nacional. “Some producers have reservations about Touriga Nacional, because they feel that too much dominates a blend. I don’t agree because even if it does, it improves the quality.”
The difference between Quinta do Vallado’s Touriga Nacional and the Reserva is really illustrative of what you gain and lose by blending. I don’t think one is better than the other, but there is a clear trade-off: Touriga Nacional shows the precision and elegance of the variety in a relatively lean style, while the Reserva tends more to breadth and generosity in a fuller style.
This is a field blend from old vines, up to 100 years of age. Soft palate has fruits in the background, with tannins trending towards chocolaty but still a little fierce on the finish. With more breadth of flavor, this shows more dimensions than Touriga Nacional.
Touriga Nacional, 2014
Allowing for some bite from youth, there is a smooth layered palate of black fruits, currently showing some tannins at the end. A tighter impression than the Reserva, with higher-toned aromatics, more refined but not as generous in its flavor spectrum.
Previously I had an older vintage which gave some indications of the path of evolution.
Touriga Nacional, 2010
Quite a mineral impression with more of a red fruit nose than black. This is quite a lean style for the variety, more towards elegance than power, reinforced by good acidity. Hints of spice and vanillin show on the finish.
The Port is also very good. I particularly liked the Adelaide Vintage Port (named for his ancestor Dona Antonia, who really built up the business and at one point owned 30 quintas).
Vintage 2014, Adelaide
With 98 g sugar, this is not too sweet. Intense perfumed nose is reminiscent of the vineyard, carrying over to a palate with black cherry and more exotic fruit flavors. Aromatics are quite delicate, this is really all in its own style.