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Quinta de la Rosa Vale Inferno 1999
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.
Quinta de la Rosa was one of the pioneers of making and selling table wines and olive oil in addition to port directly from the estate. These products are produced, matured and bottled on the Quinta and not in Vila Nova da Gaia as is the case with other shippers. It can be argued that this helps give our ports a dry and stylish nutty flavour. A combination of the best of the old with the new, treading in granite lagares and using stainless steel and temperature controlled technology, together with careful handling of natural materials (such as oak casks for the table wine and large old tonels for the port), ensures that wines of the highest quality are made. As everything is grown, made and bottled on the estate, Quinta de la Rosa is one of the few true "Single Quintas"; it is not a second brand used by most large shippers for their "off Vintage" port years.
Best known for intense, impressive and age-worthy fortified wines, Portugal relies almost exclusively on its many indigenous grape varieties. Bordering Spain to its north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean on its west and south coasts, this is a land where tradition reigns supreme, due to its relative geographical and, for much of the 20th century, political isolation. A long and narrow but small country, Portugal claims considerable diversity in climate and wine styles, with milder weather in the north and significantly more rainfall near the coast.
While Port (named after its city of Oporto on the Atlantic Coast at the end of the Douro Valley), made Portugal famous, Portugal is also an excellent source of dry red and white wines of various styles.
The Duoro Valley produces full-bodied and concentrated dry red wines made from the same set of grape varieties used for Port, which include Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Spain’s Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão, among a long list of others in minor proportions.
Other dry wines include the tart, slightly effervescent Vinho Verde white wine, made in the north, and the bright, elegant reds and whites of the Dão as well as the bold, and fruit-driven reds and whites of the southern, Alentejo.
The nation’s other important fortified wine, Madeira, is produced on the eponymous island off the North African coast.
Blended from the most important red grapes of the Douro Valley, Port is the famous fortified wine from Portugal. It is based on the Touriga Nacional grape with over 80 other varieties approved for use in the blend. However, typically about four other varieties play a major role: Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Touriga Francesa. Other wine regions of the world can produce fortified wine of a similar style from the same grapes or other grapes.
There are numerous styles of Port: Ruby, Tawny, Vintage, LBV, White, Colheita, and a few unusual others.
Ruby ports usually pack the most value and are ready to drink once bottled. Typical characteristics are ripe cherry and blackberry flavors with stewed plums, cocoa and dates.
Tawny ports are “tawny” in color and have flavors of toffee, caramel, toasted pecans, vanilla, dried apricot, citrus peel, green figs and roasted espresso. The age designation on a Tawny Port indicates the average vintage age of the grapes in the bottle. These are not intended to be aged once bottled.
When Port is made with high quality grapes selected from a single notable vintage, it is called Vintage Port. Some of the best recent vintages are 2016, 2011, 2007, 2003, 2000, 1997 and 1994. Vintage Ports are complex and full-bodied with many flavors possible: concentrated blackberry, black cherry, raspberry and spice, smoke, coffee and chocolate. Vintage ports tend to improve in the bottle up to approximately 30 years from the vintage.
LBV Port comes from a single-vintage Ruby Port and may spend six years in the barrel before being bottled. These are ready to drink upon release. Serve most Ports slightly chilled at around 55-65°F.