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The Douro wine revolution
Part 11: Lavradores de Feitoria

Rua Cidade de Espinho, no 24
5000-6111 Vila Real, Portugal
Tel: +351 259 328 190 Fax: +351 259 328 192 

After feasting on wild boar with some very nice Douro reds, I was ready for a nap. This wasn't on the agenda, though: Olga Martins and Jo„o Brito e Cunha from Lavradores de Feitoria arrived and Ray and I were taken off to their facility near Alijo for some more barrel tasting.     

Lavradores de Feitoria is an interesting project that began in August 2000. It is a joint project between 15 quality-minded Quintas or growers (Lavradores means grower).  It's a cooperative venture, but unlike a co-op in several important ways. Two lines of wines are made under the Lavradores label. First, single Quinta wines, made from just one estate. Not all Quintas produce their own wine, but only four or five each year, chosen by a tasting panel (Dirk Niepoort is involved here). Second, blend wines are made by strict selection of grapes from different quintas, under the label TrÍs Bagos

Jo„o Brito e Cunha, winemaker at Lavradores de Feitoria

All the Quintas can benefit from help in both viticulture and winemaking from the Lavradores technical team, and the commercial department takes care of the marketing of the wines with a clout that would be beyond the resources of a smaller outfit. It's early days here, but Lavradores de Feitoria certainly has the potential to succeed, and is already making impressive wines at affordable prices. Production level in 2000 was 20 000 cases. 

Quinta da Mato de Baixo 2000 (cask sample)
From a north-facing vineyard; mainly Touriga Francesca and a bit of Touriga Nacional, among other varieties. Very deep red/purple colour. Slightly muted herb-tinged nose. Great concentration on the herbal, savoury palate, which is currently tight and quite austere. This is a fairly serious wine: structured but not too heavy. Impressive. Very good/excellent

Quinta da Meruge 2000 (cask sample)
From a higher north-facing vineyard in the Torto Valley, and aged in a mixture of French and American oak (this is the final blend, ready for bottling). Quite a vivid red purple. Attractive sweet fruit on the nose with a spicy edge: quite tight and herby. Lovely chunky spicy palate displays cherry and berry fruit. Overall it is quite elegant with high acidity. Not a big wine. Very good/excellent

Quinta do Couquinho 2000 (cask sample)
60% Touriga Nacional. 40% Tinto Roriz. Shy, rather tight spicy nose showing spicy cherry fruit. Sweet plummy fruit on the palate with a herby, spicy edge. Quite ripe and rich textured, this is characteristic of the hot Douro Superior where the estate is located. Very good+

Quinta da Meruge 2001 (cask sample)
Vivid, spicy cherry and berry fruit on the nose. Quite elegant palate displaying rich spicy cherry and berry fruit with good acidity and a touch of sweetness. Very good/excellent

TrÍs Bagos 2000 (tank sample)
Wonderfully expressive nose of dusty-edged spicy herbal fruit. Lovely midweight herbal palate is quite complex and savoury, with dry dusty tannins and good acidity. Brilliant for such a cheap wine. Very good/excellent

TrÍs Bagos 2001 (tank sample)
More vivid and fruity than the 2000, and perhaps a bit more simple, too. Forward, midweight and fruity with a bit of herbiness. Judgement reserved

TrÍs Bagos Grande Eschola 2000 (cask sample)
A selection of the best grapes, the goal here is to make a big wine with concentration and elegance. I tasted from three different barrels. Vivid red purple colour. Very intense, forward nose of spicy cherry fruit with herby, liquoricey complexity. Great density on the palate which is herby and intense, with lots of spicy oak and good acidity. Quite spicy and elegant with fine structure. Very good/excellent

[aside: The following day I visited the Casa de Mateus, near Vila Real, on my way back to Porto. It's a wonderful historic building that features on the label of Mateus Rosť. Well worth a visit. The vineyards that originally supplied grapes to Mateus Rosť are located here. The owner of the Casa de Mateus, Fernando Albuquerque, heads up the Lavradores project and has two Douro estates of his own, Quinta da Costa das Aguaneiras and Quinta de Barreiro, both of which are included in this venture. The wines are made at the Casa de Mateus, and I spent some time tasting with winemaker Josť Carlos Fernandes. The most impressive wine was a varietal Tinta C„o that is released under the TrÍs Bagos label.]