Quinta da Costa do Pinhão is a beautiful quinta in the Pinhão Valley of Portugal’s Douro. The first wines from here were made in 2014, and this is a producer to watch.
Head up the Pinhão Valley in the Cima Corgo region of the Douro. It feels like you are a long way from anywhere here, and on a sunny day in late February, it’s pretty much perfect. I’m at Quinta da Costa do Pinhão, and the view from here is quite stunning. Nature hasn’t quite woken up from its slumber, and the late winter sunlight frames the hills in the distance in a slightly milky glow. And it’s quiet here. I sit, soak up the sun, and think about stuff.
I’m on a day trip to the Douro from Porto with the owner, Miguel Morais, and a few of his friends. The property, with 17 hectares of well-situated vineyards, has been in his family a long time. In the past, the grapes have been sold to leading Port houses (Sogrape take many, and Niepoort take some of the old vine fruit). It’s beautifully situated, with vineyards facing south and ranging from 250-500 m in altitude. Miguel inherited the vineyard in 2007 from his grandfather. Initially he carried on selling grapes, but then decided to renovate the small winery on the property and begin making some table wines.
He has a PhD from Cambridge University in engineering, and he still works at the University as well as running his Douro domaine. The winery was renovated in time for the 2014 vintage, which marks the beginning of the serious production of table wine here. It has some lagares (with schist, not granite construction), and some concrete fermenting tanks. Barrel storage is a mix of regular and 500 litre barrels; most are old.
He still sells quite a lot of grapes: he has the beneficio with his property graded ‘A’, and with this comes the permission to make a certain number of pipes of Port. This raises the price of grapes that are attached to this certification. It was only on the renovation of the winery that he produced table wines under the Quinta’s name, and he has had some assistance from Luis Seabra on the winemaking side.
A short film of the visit:
Farming is now more-or-less organic without being certified. Occassionally they will use some treatments if needed. ‘Now it’s much easier to control the weeds than before,’ he says, ‘when we were spraying like crazy.’
We also take a drive to a special old vineyard that he owns, a short distance from the quinta. Initially, he had plans to replant this single-hectare plot, called Peladosa. The vines are very old, and he only gets a couple of tons from it. But when he saw it, he realized he had to keep it. It’s a special place.
He picks the grapes for his wines first, then a few weeks later picks the grapes to sell for Port. Usually, people making table wine in the Douro don’t do this: they pick their grapes for Port (with the beneficio) and then pick the rest for table wine, which is one of the reasons that many Douro table wines are just too ripe. But most don’t want to risk not having enough grapes to fulfil their entire beneficio allocation.
The white, which is fermented on skins, has been a real success. But Miguel would rather people get excited about reds, his main focus. ‘One of the problems is that I’m making reds, but people know me for my whites,’ he says.
Quinta da Costa do Pinhão Branco 2018 (tank sample)
From old white vines, this has 2 weeks skin contact. It has one year in barrel and then a winter in stainless steel. Powerful and quite mineral with peach, pear and citrus. Has lovely texture and is slightly saline. Mouthfilling. 92-94/100
Quinta da Costa de Pinhão Branco 2019 (barrel sample)
Very floral with peach and pear fruit and nice spiciness. Has lovely flesh with good structure and spicy detail. 92-94/100
Quinta da Costa do Pinhão Branco 2017
This was a warm year, and the wine weighed in at 14.6% alcohol. Deep coloured with notes of tea and mint and even some raisin. Powerful palate with good structure and lovely precision. Real power here, but it still has balance. 92/100
Quinta da Costa do Pinhão Branco 2016
This is made in cement tanks and is fermented on its skins, for around two weeks. This has nice brightness with a hint of mint. Nice mineral-laced structure with a lovely citrus fruit core. Structured but balanced and really fine. 92/100
Quinta da Costa do Pinhão Branco 2015
This is powerful and structured with nuts, honey and spice. There’s a savoury edge to the citrus and pear fruit, and it shows nice grainy structure. One barrel new and one old here. 92/100
Quinta da Costa do Pinhão Branco 2014
The debut vintage, and all new oak (one 500 litre barrel). 11.5% alcohol. Golden colour. This is so mineral and reductive with nuts, honey and spice. It’s a powerful wine with a lovely mouthfeel, showing lively citrus fruit, with amazingly well integrated reductive mineral character that frames the wine beautifully. 95/100
Quinta da Costa do Pinhão Gradual Marufo 2017
This is a varietal Mourisco, which is widely despised in the Douro. Each year they get a letter from Sogrape telling them not to deliver any Mourisco. It took them two years to get this wine approved. It has big berries and it’s very heat resistant. Touriga Franca is actually a cross between Mourisco and Touriga Nacional. Pale in colour and slightly faded, this has lovely freshness. Red cherries, some plums, fine spices, orange peel. Fresh but textured, this is bright and really fine. 93/100
Quinta da Costa do Pinhão Gradual Marufo 2019 (barrel sample)
Pale pink in colour. Peppery and vital, with a lovely peppery edge to the red fruits. Reminds me of Pineau d’Aunis. 92-94/100
Quinta da Costa do Pinhão Gradual 2015
This is a co-ferment that starts off in lagar and then goes to stainless steel, and then barrel. Really bright and focused with nice fresh red berries and cherries. Has nice brightness with good structure. A linear style with nice freshness. 92/100
Quinta da Costa do Pinhão Tinto 2017
This is the final blend in tank, but isn’t bottled yet. It’s a blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, aged for two years in barrel. Taut with nice freshness, and sweet cherries and plums. Grainy with nice brightness.
Quinta da Costa do Pinhão Tinto 2015
Bright, juicy and grippy with nice freshness. Has cherries and plums with some herbs. Showing nice finesse with good structure under the black cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Nice focus. 92/100
Quinta da Costa do Pinhão Peladosa 2014
This comes from a single hectare of old vines that gives around two tons a year, so very low yields. Schist and quartz soils with some iron. 60% whole cluster ferment. Juicy and bright with nice freshness to the red cherries and plums. There’s a hint of earth and overall this wine is sappy and linear with nice freshness. 92/100
Quinta da Costa do Pinhão Peladosa 2018 (cask sample)
So fresh and focused with good structure and acidity. Has nice red fruits. Stylish with lovely weight and structure. Very fine with really nice tannins: it’s low extraction/infusion style. 93-95/100
Quinta da Costa do Pinhão Alicante Bouschet 2019 (cask sample)
Dense, spicy and vivid with some rusticity. Grippy, vivid, very fruity and quite fun. 91-93/100
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