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Quinta do Passadouro Passa Tinto 2013
Pair with mushroom risotto, grilled pork chops, or carne asada.
Blend: 45% Touriga Franca, 45% Tinta Roriz, and 10% Touriga Nacional
This sprawling property in the heart of the Douro’s Cima Corgo consists of two different vineyards: Quinta do Passadouro and Quinta do Sibio. Both vineyards boast a range of indigenous varieties native to the Douro, including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Sousão and Tinta Barroca.
Due to the steep grade of the slopes where the vineyards are planted and the narrow width of the terraces, all grapes must be picked by hand. Traditional foot-treading in granite lagares is often employed, which yields fine, silky tannins since the process is so gentle on the grapes. The wines are all aged in French barriques.
The home of Port—perhaps the most internationally acclaimed beverage—the Douro region of Portugal is one of the world’s oldest delimited wine regions, established in 1756. The vineyards of the Douro, set on the slopes surrounding the Douro River (known as the Duero in Spain), are incredibly steep, necessitating the use of terracing and thus, manual vineyard management as well as harvesting. The Douro's best sites, rare outcroppings of Cambrian schist, are reserved for vineyards that yield high quality Port.
While more than 100 indigenous varieties are approved for wine production in the Douro, there are five primary grapes that make up most Port and the region's excellent, though less known, red table wines. Touriga Nacional is the finest of these, prized for its deep color, tannins and floral aromatics. Tinta Roriz (Spain's Tempranillo) adds bright acidity and red fruit flavors. Touriga Franca shows great persistence of fruit and Tinta Barroca helps round out the blend with its supple texture. Tinta Cão, a fine but low-yielding variety, is now rarely planted but still highly valued for its ability to produce excellent, complex wines.
White wines, generally crisp, mineral-driven blends of Arinto, Viosinho, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina and an assortment of other rare but local varieties, are produced in small quantities but worth noting.
With hot summers and cool, wet winters, the Duoro has a maritime climate.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.