Wine & Soul Manoella Tinto 2015
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2015 Tinto Quinta da Manoella is a field blend but with only a few grapes, including about 60% Touriga Nacional and 25% Touriga Franca. It comes in at 14% alcohol and was aged for 16 months in used French oak. When I first saw this, it was only recently bottled. It looked like the best value point in the lineup, and it has been overachieving of late. It is still very pretty, but it has shed tannins and concentration far more quickly than I anticipated. It is not nearly as impressive now. That's not to say it's a bad choice, and it is still a very nice buy in a suave, Burgundian style. It's still got that silky texture and fine fruit, laced with some black cherries. The fruit is lifted by the freshness. It has an ethereal, precise and elegant air. That said, it won't be long before this is at peak—say, around 2020. Then, I suspect it is just as likely to go down as up.
Located in the heart of the Douro Valley, Portugal’s best-known wine region, Wine & Soul spans several picturesque vineyards. This innovative yet rustic winery was founded nearly 10 years ago by Jorge Serôdio Borges and his wife Sandra Tavares da Silva, both of whom wished to channel their extensive experience into a winery that would showcase the traditional varieties and terroir of the Douro Valley on an international level. Initially, Wine & Soul consisted of a lone vineyard, Pintas, located in the Cima Corgo's prized Pinhão Valley. Throughout the years, it expanded to include additional properties, such as the magnificent Quinta da Manoella. Parcels of 80-year-old vines are tucked into terraces carved out by dynamite a century ago. Walls built from the displaced schist border the vines, preventing erosion and enhancing the idyllic landscape. Wine & Soul has received considerable critical praise for its character-driven wines, all of which represent the exceptional terroir of the Douro region. Natural farming is prioritized, and no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides are used. Irrigation is minimal and performed only by hand, and indigenous yeasts are used for almost all fermentation. Organic certification by Sativa is pending. Due to the steep grade of the slopes and the narrow width of the terraces, all grapes must be picked by hand. The fruit is foot-trodden in granite lagares, 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.