For the first time we have bottled a limited quantity of vintage port from our oldest vineyard, Vale do Inferno.
Vale do Inferno was built by Sophia Bergqvist's great grandfather, Albert Feurheerd, just before the First World War and is situated along the banks of the Douro, two kilometres from Pinhao. The vineyard boasts some of the highest dry stone terrace walls in the Douro, towering up to 6 metres high. Ramps, instead of steps, were built into the walls allowing mules to plough the whole vineyard. This was quite unusual for the time.
Vale do Inferno has mixed planting of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Amarela. A few of the vines date back to Sophia's great grandfather's original plantation.
1999 was the first year that Vale do Inferno was farmed using organic methods and we were pleased with the results. Fortunately the weather was relatively kind to us although weed control was an issue.
Whilst the summer was hot, the weather broke much earlier than normal due to the remnants of Hurricane Floyd dissipating the usual protective Azores high. With the risk of unsettled weather setting in, La Rosa started vintaging on 19th September. Vale do Inferno was the first vineyard to be picked and was trodden in the smallest granite lagare over a five day period. Cold weather meant that the fermentation was slow allowing for plenty of extraction. The port was then stored in a large oak cask, Tonel 8, for two years before bottling. Very concentrated fruit has resulted in a powerful Vintage port with deep berry flavours.
Overall 1999 was a good year with many port houses declaring the last vintage of the century. Yields from Vale do Inferno are low so only 5,500 bottles were bottled.