By Robert K Stephen (CSW)
(OPORTO, PORTUGAL) – I had the privilege of attending a tour and tasting at Quinta De La Rosa on September 11. It’s a beautiful winery located up in the hills of Pinhão in the Douro region of Portugal.
Not only is it a winery but there’s a gradual attempt being made to make it a wine destination. It has accommodations available and they are functional, clean, and very modern, but don’t expect plush Ritz-Carlton furnishing.
The two-storey accommodations, with a swimming pool and a tremendous view of the Douro River, are going to make this a real destination winery, especially when it’s tasting room and dining room, also overlooking the Douro River, are completed.
A wine producing region needs more than grapes and passion. It requires an infrastructure to support tourism development.
Being a frequent tasting visitor to the Douro, I have tasted a multitude of wines, during a 120 second period for each one, causing snap judgements, which are oddly usually highly accurate when compared to longer tastings. Personally, I like to spend at least 20 minutes per wine but, when duty calls, hopefully I can be a good trained seal.
A wine deserves the attention a winemaker has input to the wine; not just 120 seconds.
I start here with a Quinta De La Rosa 2011 Douro Red.
You mention this Quinta, and I think more of red table wine than of Port. I think the Quinta has distinguished itself internationally with its red table wines.
This wine is dark, ruby red with strong aromas of black cherry, tar, plum pudding, and cranberries. On the palate, it strays about from traditional Douro thickness and intensity, and surprisingly presents itself as an elegant and sophisticated wine, with its acids and tannins perfectly balanced.
Ready to drink now, but can hold for another couple of years before its elegance fades.
Nice black fruit, almonds, and chocolate pasta. Great with an organic zucchini and yellow pepper sautéed with garlic and green Thai curry paste.
A good sipper but its lighter nature suggests matching with fresh tomato-based pasta and I advise to steer clear of beef, goat, or lamb. (Quinta de la Rosa, Red, Douro 2011, D.O.C. Douro, Quinta de la Rosa Vinhos S.A., Pinhão, Portugal, 750 mL, 14.5%, LCBO #933101, $19.95, Square Media Group Rating 90/100)
A blend of Tinto Rorris (Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional, and Touriga Franca. The 2012 Red is the Quinta’s most important red sold throughout the world. Delightfully perfumed full of lavender, black cherry, and milk chocolate. Lots of ripe fruit but a tart acidic finish. (Windsor Square Media Group Rating 87/100)
Now, there at the Quinta, there is a shotgun tasting of wines, and I do my best to keep up. Owner Sophia Berqvist is a bit of a highly energized women and its hard to keep pace with her. There is no tasting sheet describing the wine, so we wine writers are on the fly.
The Quinta La Rosa 2014 White DOC Douro is rather typical of Douro whites in that is redolent of pear, melon, and apple. Good minerality, but a bit tight. Has some good spice and length (Square Media Group Rating 86/100)
The Riserva White 2014 Passagem is from a field blend, meaning several varieties of grapes grown in the field are used with no one really knowing the exact percentages of grapes in the wine. Rather from an era where wine was wine to be consumed without an obsession of exactly what grapes were used.
Aged in 70% new French oak. A tad woody and raw, but some ageing might quiet this one down. (Windsor Square Rating 87/100)
The 2013 Vinho Tinto has pleasing aromas of black cherry, blackberry, and cassis. It’s a bit tannic, full of black cherry, with a burning finish. This baby needs some time to settle down. (Windsor Square Rating 85/100)
The 2012 Passagem Riserva is very earthy, perfumed, full of high toned and taut black cherry and chocolate. Loads of black cherry on the palate infused with a tad of charcoal. (Square Media Group Rating 87/100)
The 2012 Riserva is really too young to drink and it’s loaded with blackberry, liquorice, and perfume. It’s very tannic, chalky, and full of dark chocolate, red pepper, and blackball candy with a long and peppery finish. (Square Media Group Rating 88/100)
Not to be cruel to Quinta de la Rosa, and this may be to lack of product in Canada, but I am really not familiar with its Ports. This should not be surprising as we Port lovers in Canada get a smidgen of what could possibly be available.
I can say Quinta de la Rosa is aggressively making its mark in Pinhão with its very cool accommodations, but it also has bottled some of its Ports in very non traditional Port bottles so they look like single malt scotches. They have crossed the fuddy duddy boundary in a direction that just might attract the attention of the younger Port drinkers.
Unless Port can transition to the younger generation, it faces an inevitable death.
Ruby Port is the lowest of low of Port, but Quinta de la Rosa proffers a Finest Reserve Ruby Port. It has a tight nose with almonds, prunes, and raisins.
Despite being fruity, it is somewhat dry, its finish infused with cassis and pepper. Let’s be frank. It’s a rather basic Port that grandma might like before dinner. Not sophisticated, but light and entertaining. Fun. (Square Media Group Rating 86/100)
The Quinta de la Rosa Late Bottled Vintage 2011 Port is totally smokey, velvety full of blackberry and liquorice. Quite frankly it is full of brutish power akin to a Vintage Port, but at a fraction of the price. This will knock your socks off. (Square Media Group Rating 90/100)
Vintage Ports are chameleons. In their youth they can be monstrous in power and delight, but as they age, and that can be over 50 years, they lose that aggressive edge and soften with an understated power.
The Quinta de la Rosa 2012 Vintage Port can settle in nicely for the next 40 years. It’s ripping with high toned cherry, lavender just full of earthiness, yet somehow hanging on to delicate black fruit. Big milk chocolate on the finish.
Best consumed after you are dead. Drink in 2050. (Quinta de la Rosa 2012 Vintage Port, Square Media Group Rating 93/100)
While Vintage Ports and Late Bottled Vintage Ports are full of power, Tawny Ports express more delicacy, usually with loads of orange, marmalade, and spice.
The 10 year-old tawny is full of orange citrus and orange peel, tinged with Portuguese almonds. There is heavy depth on the palate with an impressively long finish, (Quinta de la Rosa 10 Year Old Tawny, Square Media Group Rating 90/100)
The Quinta’s 20 year-old Tawny Port moves closer to perfection with an incredible balance of acidity. It is crammed full of apricots, marmalade, organic baby watermelons, coffee, and toast. (Square Media Group Rating 93/100)