Quinta do Infantado

Revisiting Portugal's Douro Valley, part 1

João Roseira 

Back in 2002, when I first visited the Douro Valley, top quality table wines from the region were in their infancy. One of my visits was with João Roseira of Quinta do Infantado, and it was nice to return, almost 16 years later, to visit again. The quinta is based in Gontelho, near Pinhão in the Cima Corgo, and has some very nice vineyards.

infantadoThe winery 

Infantado are famous for being the first quinta to bottle Port wines in the Douro region in 1979, rather than sending the wine to Vila Nova de Gaia. Until 1986 when the laws changed, Port producers weren't allowed to export wine that didn't go through Gaia, which created a financial hurdle that ended up keeping small players out of the game. So for a number of years, Infantado made Ports and sold them domestically, before they were allowed to export. Infantado were also among the first in the region to farm organically, starting back in 1990.

As well as Infantado, João has also been involved in Bago de Touriga, a negociant operation with winemaker Luis Suares Duarte: these wines are written up separately. They began in 1998 (Luis had already made some wines in 1996 and 1997 that were later bottled under this label), and after the crisis they stopped in 2010, resuming the project in 2015. The brand name is Gouvyas.

The Infantado wines are all made in lagares with wild yeasts, but they aren't strictly natural wines, because in many years acidification is needed. The reds are usually fully destemmed, and these days they are worked with robotic treaders in modern stainless steel lagares.


Modern lagares with robotic treaders

There are trends in the world of wine, and in the Douro these have been extreme. 'We've gone from 16.5% alcohol and Parker to thin and 10% alcohol,' jokes Joao. 'You can do this [the light, low alcohol glou glou wines] from the Douro if you harvest in the spring!' He says he is looking for phenolic maturity, and to get this sometimes it is necessary to acidify. 'You can have 13% alcohol and a pH of 4,' he says, 'which is too high.' He's worked in the winery since he was 12. Now he's 54. 2008 was the only vintage over this period where they haven't had to acidify. '90% of the wines in the Douro are acidified. Schist makes things hot at night.'

See a short film of Joao in the vineyard:

We visited the vineyards and toured round the winery, which is a blend of the new and very old.

 

THE WINES

Quinta do Infantado Tinto Green Label 2012 Douro, Portugal
This is from mixed coplantations of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinto Roriz, planted in 1998. 12.5% alcohol. Very fresh and pure with lovely black cherry and blackberry fruit. Fresh and supple: has a bit of fleshiness together with brightness and good acidity. 93/100

Quinta do Infantado Tinto 2015 Douro, Portugal
From Covas de Douro. Fresh pure and vivid with expressive, supple, sweet blackberry and black cherry fruit. Has a brightness but also some nice supple sweet fruit. Very expressive with good tannin and acidity. I like the floral edge this wine possesses. 93/100

Roseira Douro 2011 Douro, Portugal
Inspired by Mariano Garcia's Alion, João wanted to make something more modern and approachable. This weighs in at a heady 15.8% alcohol. Ripe, bold, sleek and tasty, with tarry, spicy notes. This has freshness despite the high alcohol. It's a bit tarry but it has nice fruit character. 91/100

Quinta do Infantado Reserva 2012 Douro, Portugal
80 year old vineyard, field blend. Structured, fresh and detailed with some nice black cherry and blackberry fruit as well as some really grippy, peppery structure. Sweetly fruited with complex tar and herb notes. A rich, bold wine with real intensity and complexity. Still quite primary with potential for development. 94/100 

Quinta do Infantado Ruby Reserva NV Douro, Portugal
This is an organic Port made in robotic lagares, and it's meio-seco, which means it's a bit drier than most Ports (just 50 g/litre sugar as opposed to 100-120). Vivid and complex with some savoury, spicy notes under the bold black cherry and blackberry fruit. Rich and tannic with lovely balance. Has some substance and density. 92/100

Quinta do Infantado Unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage Port 2013 Douro, Portugal
A more serious style of LBV. Powerful, floral and expressive with concentrated black cherry and blackberry fruit. Really intense and vivid with lovely purity of fruit. Structured and pretty at the same time, and quite Burgundian. 94/100

Quinta do Infantado 10 Years Old Tawny NV Douro, Portugal
Savoury and a bit spicy with sweet notes of raisins and herbs. Rich and focused with fresh, bright citrus peel characters. Lovely and intense. 93/100

See also:

Part 1, Quinta do Infantado
Part 2, Bago de Touriga

Wines tasted 02/18  
Find these wines with
wine-searcher.com

 

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