Quinta do Vale Meao Douro 2008
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Quinta do Vale Meão was founded in 1877 by the legendary Dona Antònia Adelaide Ferreira and is owned today by her great-great-grandson Francisco “Xito” Olazabal. Vale Meão built its reputation supplying fruit to the famed 250-year-old Port house Ferreira. In 1952, its vineyards were chosen to create a revolutionary wine, which for decades would be the Douro’s only globally recognized table wine.
Vale Meão began a new life in 1998 when Xito realized his dream of making his own wine from his family’s estate. Success came quickly, and in 2011, Portugal’s leading wine publication Revista de Vinhos named Xito Winemaker of the Year. Today Xito is recognized as a leading figure in the Douro table wine revolution, which has captured the attention of the wine world.
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 Douro 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.
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.