Wine Drinking in Texas – Quinta do Crasto: Wines Offering Offering Both Old & Modern History
Quinta do Crasto and its estate with over 180 acres planted in vines is beautifully situated on the right bank of the majestic Douro River, between Régua and Pinhão. The vista seen from the estate show the heart and, as many say, the soul of the Douro wine region of Portugal. From the east or west, the visitor will find the estate only by traveling winding roads that navigate steep slopes and vineyards. These roads turn back on themselves that appear as endless switchbacks. The patient visitor, however, is rewarded upon arrival with history, vistas and some of widely acclaimed wines at Quinta do Crasto.
While most wine drinkers are well familiar with the quality red wines from regions of France, Italy, Spain, California and other regions, Portugal is often a wine drinker’s unknown territory except for its namesake and centuries old Port wine industry. Since the 1980s, however, there has been an awakening in Portugal especially with the wines of the Douro. This was the time that Portuguese winemakers rediscovered their native grape varieties and employed modern viticulture and winemaking technology with spectacular success as seen in the quality of their table wines.
Featured here are five wines from Quinta do Crasto established in 1615. It is a lovely old estate with a beautifully restored country house and chapel. The grape varieties, some old vines more than 70 years old, include Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Cao, and more. The wines are acknowledged with DOC designation (Denomination of Controlled Origin) equivalent to DO designation in Spain and AOC in France. See below for my tasting and comments:
This white wine is made from grapes chosen from the estate’s selected plots and is a blend of indigenous varieties—40% Viosinho, 30% Gouveio, and 30% Rabigato – grape that were a mystery to me. Eightyfive percent of the blend is aged in stainless steel that keeps the wine bright and crisp, while the other 15 is fermented and aged in used French oak with lees stirring for three months to enhance the feel on the palate. The result is a textured and layered white wine with aromas and flavors of orange blossom and soft citrus with a line of minerality that lingers long after the last sip. This wine was a surprising palate pleaser for me at an affordable price $20.
This wine is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Souzão. The grapes are sourced from the estate’s Quinta da Cabreira property located in the Douro Superior sub-region. The wine was aged in French oak for 12 months, and the result is a dense red wine with a soft entry offering well amalgamated tannins and flavors of ripe blueberries and blackberries punctuated with hint of allspice on the nose. This too, was an eye-opening tasting experience particularly noting its affordable price – $29.
During my visit to Portugal in the 2000s, I heard from many there tell me that there are old vineyards of mixed plantings – in some cases, the grape varieties were not yet differentiated. These grapes are harvested and made into wine only classified as old vine field blends. It is likely the case for this Reserva Old Vines that is a blend of 25 to 30 different varieties from parcels of vines that are an average of 70-years-old. The wine was aged for 18 months in French and American oak barrels. The wine has a rustic intricacy with a firm-but-pleasant tannic structure and mature mélange of flavors integrating red and black fruits, dark roast coffee along with fresh floral and earthy notes – $45.
My time in Portugal, brought me up close and personal with the Touriga Nacional grape. Even with its reputation for low yields and cultivation difficulties, Touriga Nacional synonymous with Douro and the region’s Port wines, it has become the raising star of Portuguese grape for table wines. For this wine, the Touriga Nacional grapes are taken from the best plots of Quinta do Crasto’s estates and spends 18 months in French oak. It has this grape’s signature purple hue and aromas of violets, fresh spice, and lush dark black and blue berries. Its presence on the palate is complimented by firm tannins and acidity through to a long lively finish worthy of its price – $78.
Hopefully, this blog will help define a new tasting experience from the world of Portugal’s high quality table wines that offers an experience unlike those you may have had before. Click here to find out more about Qunita Do Crasto listed in the Best Vineyards in the World. For a sources to purchase Quinta do Crasto wines go to wine.com or totalwine.com.