Wine & Soul Pintas Manoella 2010
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.
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.
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.