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Quinta Vale D. Maria White Port
A dedicated team of viticulturists and winemakers - Sandra Tavares da Silva, Joana Pinhao and I - tries to make sure that each and every one of our wines is a testimony to our life's philosophy. We hope that when tasting them you will also agree that we have accomplished at least some of our ambitions.
The home of Port—perhaps the world’s most popular after-dinner drink, the Douro region of Portugal is one of the world’s oldest delimited wine regions, established in 1756. Less well-known but often of excellent quality are the region’s dry table wines, both red and white. The vineyards of the Douro, set on the slopes surrounding the Douro river (known as the Duero in Spain), are among the steepest in the world, necessitating the use of terraces in much of the region. This often requires grapes to be harvested by hand—a labor-intensive process. The climate here is Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and cold winters. There are three sub-regions of the Douro—Baixo Corgo, the mildest and wettest, Cima Corgo, where many of the best producers are situated, and Douro Superior, the hottest and driest. The best sites, typically with schist-based soils, are reserved for Port production, while table wines are usually grown on granite.
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 table wines. Touriga Nacional is the finest of these, prized for its deep color, tannic and concentrated structure, and floral aromatics. Along with Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Spain's Tempranillo) helps to provide the backbone to these wine and adds bright acidity and red fruit flavors. Touriga Franca and Tinta Barroca help round out the blend with their soft, supple textures. Tinta Cão, a fine but low-yielding variety, is rarely planted but still highly valued for its ability to produce excellent, complex wines. Rosé Port and table wines are produced from the same varieties, while whites are generally crisp, mineral-driven blends of Arinto, Viosinho, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, and an assortment of others.
Blended from the most important red grapes of the Duoro 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.
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 2011, 2009, 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.
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.