Wines from Portugal Annual Tasting
Vinopolis, 14th March 2006


Adega Cooperativa da Covilhã
The Adega Cooperativa da Covilhã was founded in 1954, with 147 members; the first wines were released under the coop's labels in 1957.  At first, the main business was the supply of wine in bulk, moving into bottling their own wines in the 1970s.  Today the coop has almost 1200 members with around 1500 hectares of vines, producing around four million bottles per annum.


Quinta de Ventozelo
Represented in the UK by Alliance Wine, Beith (


Quinta do Zimbro Vinhos Lda


Associação de Adegas – Vinhos de Portugal
Vinhos de Portugal is an association of three cooperative wineries from Ribatejo and Estremadura.



Aveleda, Penafiel


Casa de Vila Verde, Soc. Agricola


Churchill Graham
Churchill started developing table wines from the Douro in 1999, under the direction of João Brito e Cunha, one of the new generation of Portuguese oenologists.  The grapes come from Churchill’s own vineyards, principally the Quinta da Grincha, which they believe has a microclimate and terroir that produces “distinctively elegant wines with excellent natural acidity and purity of fruit.”  As of 2003, they have increased the percentage of touriga nacional to give them greater aromatic elegance and identity.


Quinta de la Rosa, Sophia Bergqvist
The Bergqvist family have been making port since 1815 and bought Quinta de la Rosa in 1905 as their flagship property. The family port shipping company, Feuerheerd, was sold in the 1930s but they kept Quinta de la Rosa, which was run by Sophia’s grandmother, Claire. In 1988 Sophia and her father, Tim Bergqvist, decided to restart the family business and launched Quinta de la Rosa as a top quality port producer onto the market place. Starting in the early 1990s, the Bergqvist family were one of the pioneers in taking red table wine production (as opposed to port production) in the Douro region seriously. More recently, they have also been making their Vale da Clara wine, buying in carefully selected grapes from nearby properties. The Vale da Clara wine is made for younger drinking than the Quinta de la Rosa wines, the aim being for it to have more fruit and less oak.

The quinta is on the north bank of the Douro, one kilometre from Pinhão in the heart of the best port-producing area.  They have around 55 hectares of vineyards, A-graded by the Casa do Douro, producing 100,000 litres of table wine per year (together with another 50,000 litres of port).  The older terraced vineyards with their stone retaining walls are planted with mixed varieties, the vines being at least fifty years old.  The newer vineyards (patamares) date from the early 1970s and are block planted with Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, and Tinta Cão.


Companhia Agricola do Sanguinhal


Fiuza & Bright
Imported by Portukal Impex Ltd.


Quinta do Casal Branco Sociedade de Vinhos 
The Casal Branco estate is located on the left bank of the Tagus River in the Almeirim region, and has been owned by the same family for more than two centuries (the winery is in a building dating back to the 18th century). The estate extends to 660 hectares, 140 of which are under vines. The vineyards are planted mainly with Portuguese varieties such as the white Fernão Pires, and (for red) trincadeira, castelão, and touriga nacional; more recently Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Alicante and Syrah have been planted. As well as producing wines, the Quinta do Casal Branco also maintains a stud going back to the second Earl of Sobral (1807-1876).


Prats & Symington
Imported by John E Fells (
Chryseia is a joint venture between the Symington family, who have some four generations’ experience of port and wine production in the Douro, and Bruno Prats, former owner of Château Cos d’Estournel: a collaboration, then, that brings together experience from the two regions that have probably been historically very important wine-producing regions for the English gentry. 

The name Chryseia is a Greek translation of Douro (i.e. ‘of gold’).  Further upstream the Douro/Duero, in Spain, the Marques de Grinon and Haciendas de Espana have started their Durius project, and in the new world, there has been a minor fashion for Latin names on wine labels: the Symington-Prats collaboration decided that for their new wine, a classical Greek name would be appropriate.

The Chryseia project started in 1998 when James Symington suggested the collaboration to Bruno Prats to produce top quality dry reds from the Douro.  The new company, Prats & Symington was set up in 1999 and a number of experimental lots were made from the 1999 harvest to assess the potential.  For the 2000 vintage, a new press was installed.  No Chryseia was made in 2002, as the wet weather during harvest meant there were insufficient grapes of the required quality and concentration.

Chryseia and the Post Scriptum are blends of Touriga Nacional (the principal variety), Touriga Franca and Tinta Cão.  Sometimes tinta roriz (the tempranillo of Spain) can be included as a minor component in the blend.  Unlike most of the older vineyards of the Douro, the Symingtons have planted parcels of single varieties in their best quintas, allowing each varietal to be chosen from the quinta where it performs best.  Each variety is vinified separately in a series of fermenters dedicated to Chryseia within the Symington family’s Sol winery near Regua.  Chryseia also has its own barrel cellar.

Vinification and élevage follow the classic Bordeaux methods: individual bunch selection, destalking, light crushing and fermentation in small temperature-controlled stainless steel vats (though at lower temperatures than in Bordeaux).  This is followed by frequent (though less than in Bordeaux) pumping over of the cap, and prolonged skin contact.  After malolactic fermentation has finished, the wine is matured in 350 and 400 litre new oak barrels, the oak coming from Allier and Fontainebleu.  Chryseia usually only spends eight months in oak, though the power of the 2003 meant a twelve month period in barrel was necessary.

After the third vintage, they agreed that a ‘second wine’ would be appropriate to use the grapes that aren’t good enough for Chryseia.  Post Scriptum de Chryseia is made for slightly younger drinking than Chrysea: it will be made in years such as 2002 when Chryseia is not made, and as a second wine in other years.

Bruno Prats and the Symingtons bought Quinta da Perdiz in the Rio Torto valley in the summer of 2004, which will become a key contributing vineyard to both Chryseia and Post Scriptum de Chyrseia.



Azamor Wines
Owned by Alison and Joaquim Luís Gomes, the densely planted Azamor vineyards (the first planted in 2001) cover 27 hectares of the 260 hectare estate in the upper Alentejo, not far from Estremoz.  The grape varieties grown are: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Alicante, Syrah, Mourvedre, Merlot and Petit Verdot.  The winery, built in 2005, is described by Azamor themselves as a boutique winery, set in olive groves with breathtaking views.  Represented in the UK by Liberty Wines.


Adriano Ramos Pinto Vinhos
Represented in the UK by Maison Marques et Domaines Ltd.


Quinta do Tedo, Douro
Quinta do Tedo, with its Grade A vineyards in the Alto Douro high above the Douro and Tedo rivers, is owned by Vincent Bouchard, son of Joseph Bouchard of Burgundy’s Bouchard Père et Fils.  Vincent and Kay Steffey Bouchard (a winemaker in her own right in California) bought the 250 year old property in 1992.  Quinta do Tedo was the first property in Portugal to introduce the "lutte raisonée" approach to growing vines.  The vineyards contain traditionally closely spaced vines planted on steep terraces, and the vines are an average of 30 years old and include 18 varieties, mainly Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Câo, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Francesa. The estate is separated into 4 parcels which are always vinfied separately.
Imported by McKinley Vintners


Samuel Magalhães e Silva, Herdeiros, Douro
Samuel Magalhães have around 100 hectares in three properties in the DO Douro. 


Sociedade de Vinhos do Casal do Castelão
Situated around 50km north of Lisbon, some 15km inland.


Sociedade Agricola Encosta do Guadiana (SAEG)

The Sociedade Agricola Encosta do Guadiana is a former cereal producer and now a new wine producer in southern Alentejo.  The project is converting a cereal monoculture to vineyards and olive trees: they have no background in winemaking, but know they like nice easy wines, so that’s what they’re aiming to make.  The vineyards are now a mere six years old (the first was planted in 1998, but most were only planted in 2000 and 2001); and construction of the winery only began in 2002.  The winery is located in Monte do Paço do Conde, in Baleizão, a small village in southern Alentejo.  The second stage of the winery construction was completed in 1994, upgrading capacity to 1 million litres and installing a laboratory, bottling line and barrel and bottle stores.
The 96 hectares of vineyards are planted with the Portuguese varieties Aragonez, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional and Castelão, together with Cabernet Sauvignon, Alicante Bouschet, Syrah and Merlot.  The vines are drop irrigated and there is a high degree of mechanisation. Harvest is done late at night or around dawn to avoid the high daytime temperatures, which can often reach 35º to 40º C.


Sociedade Agricola da Labrugeira
SA da Labrugeira is a family owned company that has been producing wine in the Estremadura for generations.  Both the vineyards and the winery have recently been renovated: their 15 hectares of vineyards have been replanted with touriga franca, tinta roriz, castelão, touriga nacional, arinto and fernão pires, together with some sauvignon blanc and syrah.  2003 was the first vintage from the new plantings.  The grapes are picked by hand, destemmed and lightly crushed before fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, with long maceration periods.  Wines are then kept for 6-12 months in French oak before bottling.


Caves Transmontanas


Quanta Terra, Sociedade de Vinho Lda

Quanta Terra was established in 1999 by Jorge Alves and Celso Pereira, two Douro winemakers.  The grapes come from 10 hectares of 17-year old vineyards, at an average altitude of 250m, belonging to the Quinta do Tralhão in the Upper Douro.  The typical blend comprises 65% touriga nacional, 3% tinta roriz, 30% tinta barroca and 2% sousão and aged for a year in new French oak barriques.  Only around 8,000 bottles a year are produced.


Caves do Freixo
The Caves do Freixo were founded in 2001 by a group of wine lovers.





Rui Francisco Neves Dias, Rui Simeão Tavira Sal

Producers of salt, and notably what in France is known as fleur de sel or Flower of Salt.  Fleur de sel is the product of combining sea water, sun and wind: the evaporation of the sea water in salt pans forms particularly delicate, often pinkish crystals on the top of the salt – this is skimmed off with special tools and is one of the most prized forms of salt.

The Rui Simeão salt from Tavira is certified organic (it comes from salt pans on the edge of the Ria Formosa nature reserve) and an EU PDO has been applied for.  They have some 13 hectares of salt pans, producing 60-80 tons of flower of salt and 800-1000 tons of traditional sea salt per year.

I found the Rui Simeão flower of salt to have a deep, complex almost floral flavour, at one time more “salty” than such as the Maldon sea salt and also more diversely flavoured.

Salt is good for you (like everything in moderation), and pure sea salt, and even more so, flower of salt more so, given its purity compared to standard table salt.  A salt solution of 60g per litre of water has the same mineral content as amniotic fluid and blood plasma.  It is more salty than regular table salt, so less is needed.

Highly recommended.  Available from Rainha Santa, London (


Sovena – Comércio e Indústria de Produtos Alimentares

I tasted two of their olive oils:

Oliveira da Serra Colheita Especial, Sovena
Cold extracted with 0.3% acidity.  A very fruity nose.  Really good on the palate with very, very low acidity.  Quite a creamy, almost buttery feel.  Very peppery on the finish.

Oliveira da Serra Seleccão, Azeite Virgem Extra
Much more of a greasy feel.  Distinctly less impressive.

2005 Andorinha, Simão & Ca.
A premium extra virgin olive oil from the first cold pressing.  0.3% acidity.  50,000 bottles.  This has a fruity, more minerally, more appley nose.  Very mild and creamy.




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Last updated: 11 August 2006