Quinta da Carolina, Douro, Portugal

Jamie Goode reviews the wines of Quinta da Carolina, a small quinta taking a new, more interesting direction

Luis Pedro (above), Niepoort winemaker, is the dude behind Quinta de Carolina. It’s his family property from which he makes some wine as a side-project to his day job. There are 2.4 hectares of vines and 3 hectares of olive trees on this 7 hectare estate, which is in the Tedo valley.

The Quinta was previously owned by Jerry Luper, who came to Portugal and established the domaine in 1999. This was a short-lived project though, and his last vintage was in 2003. The Pedro family bought it in 2006, when it wasn’t in the best of states (‘it was a jungle’ says Luis), and made wine from the 2007 vintage.

Luis started making the wines here in 2015, the year he switched to organic viticulture. He also sold the destemmer, and started making the wines 100% whole bunch. His first vintage he had to use the oak the previous winemaker bought, but he’s since put his own stamp on the wines.

Quinta da Carolina Branco 2018 Douro, Portugal
This is mainly Rabigato, fermented in stainless steel. Supple and fresh with pear fruit and some pithy notes. Slight almond note, with a rounded character to the fruit. Very pure. 89/100

Quinta da Carolina Reserva Branco 2019 Douro, Portugal (cask sample)
This is a 100 year old vineyard at 650-700 m with lots of Malvasia. It’s early picked: pH is 2.8 and alcohol is 11%. The juice is oxidised and then it is fermented in barrel. Very saline, bright and linear. Has high acidity, and tastes mineral and precise with lovely purity. 93-95/100

Elemento 2017 Douro, Portugal
This is a project with Carmelo Peña from the Canary Islands who used to work at Niepoort. It’s a skin-ferment white made in a tinaja (amphora) from Spain, and spends 9 months on its skins. The grapes come from an old vineyard in the Douro. Juicy, bright and taut with lovely precision, showing fresh red cherry fruit. Sappy and expressive with good acidity. Lovely wine. 95/100

Quinta da Carolina Xisto Amarelo 2017 Douro, Portugal
Mainly Touriga Franca with a bit of Tinta Amarela, aged in a German fuder for 18 months. Supple with lovely red cherry fruit. Sappy, bright and pure with nice fine-grained structure. Lovely brightness here: elegant and fine. 94/100

Quinta da Carolina 2016 Douro, Portugal
This is 24 months in oak and one month in steel. Luis’ first vintage, and he used the oak the previous winemaker had bought. Rich and fresh at the same time with fresh, floral red fruits, as well as some polish and a touch of oak. This has lovely fruit and really good balance. 93/100

Quinta da Carolina 2003 Douro, Portugal
This was a Jerry Luper wine. It’s slightly baked with some earthy notes. There’s an appealing savouriness with some soy sauce notes, and it’s showing quite a lot of development. Hints at elegance, but overall a bit tired and baked. 85/100

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