An ode to Douro Superior wines


TEXT António Falcão, Mariana Lopes and João Paulo Martins PHOTOS Ricardo Palma Veiga This edition, produced once again by the Grandes Escolhas team for the Foz Côa City Council, broke a number of records compared to the last one, not only in terms of the number of stands, but also in terms of the number of visitors. More than 9,000 people, around 15% more than in the previous edition, had access to almost 400 nectars at the show. The 2018 event, which took place from May 25 to 27 at the excellent ExpoCôa exhibition center, also featured 80 exhibitors and was opened by various individuals, including Carlos Daniel, Secretary of State for Local Authorities. The 7th Douro Superior Wine Festival wasn't just about wine tasting at the fair (and local cuisine). The event also had a number of other points of interest, such as the lively colloquium, which this year was on the theme of “The Douro and History: Valley with a Past, Vineyard with a Future”, led and moderated by Fernando Melo, journalist and critic for Grandes Escolhas. As the colloquium organizer told us, “the theme was ambitious”, but thanks to the reception it received from the entire Douro wine sector, it was one of the most well attended and fruitful ever. Focusing on the fundamental pillars of the family, entrepreneurship and innovation, it was an intense morning with pointers for the future. As usual, the Festival was also visited by dozens of journalists and professional buyers who, by participating as judges in the competition, also had the opportunity to get to know some of the region's projects up close. And indeed, there was a lot of interesting material to get to know: Barão de Vilar (now Van Zeller Wine Collection, S.A.) Álvaro Van Zeller, his brother Fernando and Rui Carvalho are the three partners in this company. The center of the house's operations is in Pocinho, where the company has a huge warehouse, especially occupied with Port wine in aging. A considerable number of liters (close to a million!) are stored there, almost all in barrels. Álvaro is a fan of buying old casks from various companies in the region, which have been restored little by little by a cooper hired for the job. In fact, Barão de Vilar's strategy is to buy wines (especially Port) from local producers/winemakers and age them before bottling and selling. But the company has its own vineyards, around 11 hectares in the recently acquired Quinta do Saião (100 hectares in total), located opposite the famous Quinta do Vale Meão. Winemaker Manuel Vieira told us that it is “one of the most beautiful vineyards in the Douro”.Manuel Vieira was present because he has been involved in some of the house's wines (see one of the highlights of the Wines of the Month in this magazine) and is a long-time friend of Álvaro Van Zeller. The grapes from this quinta (and others) go to the house winery in Santa Comba da Vilariça, under the supervision of the resident oenologist, Mafalda Machado. Mafalda told us that she likes to play with the various origins of the grapes to make the final batches. Some of the wines were tasted at a dinner in a local restaurant and the result was that this is a team that works very well, combining experience with the irreverence of youth. For example, the Zom Grande Reserva Touriga Nacional 2011 - one of the house brands - which had just won this year's Douro Superior Wine Festival competition in the red category. Most of the production is destined for export, but there are several national distributors. BEST RED WINE Zom Grande Reserva Touriga Nacional red 2011 (Barão de Vilar - Vinhos - now Van Zeller Wine Collection, S.A.)

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