Quinta do Vale Meao, Portugal, Douro
In 1877, Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, queen of the 19th century Douro Valley and owner of the largest winemaking estate in the Douro, purchased 300 hectares of virgin land at auction from the Vila Nova de Foz Côa municipality. Her dream was to create a model vineyard from nothing, using for this the vast experience she had acquired throughout a lifetime as a Douro landowner. This ambitious project took eight years to complete, from 1887 to 1895. Sadly, this grand lady’s pleasure in her last and most significant enterprise was of short duration as she died in 1896.
Since then, the estate always remained in the hands of her descendants. In the 1970s, her great-great-great-grandson, Francisco Javier de Olazabal became responsible for its management and he began the long and laborious process of acquiring the shares that belonged to his kin and to other co-owners of the property. In 1994, he and his children became the sole owners of the Quinta. Until then, the grapes from the estate were sold to A.A. Ferreira S.A., the company established by Dona Antónia’s descendants, where they formed the basis of some its finest wines. This connection continued until 1998 when Francisco Javier de Olazabal resigned as Managing Director of A.A. Ferreira S.A. to dedicate himself, together with his oenologist son Francisco de Olazabal y Nicolau de Almeida, to producing, ageing and marketing the wines from the Quinta through a new company, F. Olazabal & Filhos Lda.
Since that day Quinta do Vale Meao has continued to build an impressive reputation and set high standards of excellence through out the Douro. Currently the estate is under 62 hectares of vines with plantings of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Amarela, and Tinta Barro dominating. Soil make-up varies through the vineyard but for the most part are made up of slate, granite and alluvial gravel.
The Quinta vineyards were subject to a major reconversion and replanting beginning in the 1980s, partly because of the need to replace the vines that were flooded as a result of the building of the Valeira dam. The new vineyards were planted with blocks of single-variety vines, most especially Touriga Nacional, a varietal that until then had practically been abandoned in the Douro because of the low yield and difficulty in cultivating the vine. This varietal has proven to be particularly well suited to the edapho-climateric characteristics of the Upper Douro and it contributes greatly to the quality and originality of the Quinta wines. Their complexity is guaranteed by the careful use of the different types of soil that exist in the Quinta – schistose, granitic and alluvial.
Their aim is to uphold the originality and complexity of our wines by exploring, to the utmost, the combination of the different traditional Douro varietals grown in separate blocks in the vineyards and the different styles that result from the geological variations of our soil.
They also give preference to combining traditional winemaking methods in lagares with modern technologies. This is why they restored and totally re-equipped the centuries-old Adega dos Novos winery, taking care to preserve its fine architectural features and recover the imposing stone treading tanks. The Adega da Barca Velha wine lodge, reserved exclusively as a warehouse for Port, was reconstructed in 2007.
On Ewineasia.com, you can find many of Quinta do Vale Meao wines that best defines the expression of its terroir, ethical viticulture and wine-making philosophy.
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