A Dynamo by the Name of Julia De Melo Kemper


Julia de Melo Kemper on the left in the white coat at the edge of the vineyards: Photo Robert K. Stephen

Mushrooms in forest at Quinta do Cruzeiro, Biodiversity in action!: Photo Robert K. Stephen

New French Oak Barrel; Photo Robert K. Stephen

Some Julia Kemper Wines; Photo Robert K. Stephen

I must admit while on a media tour in the Dão in Portugal I was rather surprised to note we were visiting the Julia Kemper Winery. That name did not sound particularly Portuguese! I am not sure where “Kemper” originated from but there has been great foreign penetration in the Douro wine sector so why not in this part of Portugal?
In any case Julia de Melo Kemper does exist. Julia Kemper prefers to be called  Ana Julia  as with 12 other  of her legal names names attached as Ana Julia explains the name of her wine could be quite complicated. Ana Julia explains she named her winery Julia Kemper for commercial reasons as her Portuguese names would be too difficult to remember. This is important when you are focused on exporting your wine.
Julia Kemper Winery was founded in 2003 when Ana Julia, a lawyer in Lisbon, accepted her father’s challenge to establish a commercial winery. Her first wines hit the market in 2008
Her Quinta (estate) named Quinta do Cruzeiro, Oliveira, is about 30 minutes by car from the city of Viseu. It is on Wine Route #2 and near the town of Mangualde. It is a scenic drive full of forests and valleys with many small villages tucked in here and there. Her Quinta has been in the family for some 400 years and her family did make wine but more as a hobby than a thriving commercial enterprise. The Quinta has some 60 hectares of land surrounded by forest and olive trees. 20 hectares are under cultivation. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful vineyards in the Dão.
The soil is granite, schist and limestone. The vineyards are located on four plateaus. It is surrounded by mountains and protected from any Maritime influences.
Originally the grapes were grown as a field blend meaning all different types of grapes were growing together as in earlier days in Portugal well wine was just wine. She has replanted into specific plots for specific grapes.
Her wines are certified organic and she adds they are partially bio-dynamic. She has a team of French consultants assisting her in her organic directions. Wines under the Elpenor label are organic but not stated on the bottle for fear of alienating consumers the brand is directed to. Granite lagares are used to ferment and crush the red grapes. All wines receive some oak ageing except for the 4 Elpenor branded wines.
Her wines are all very clean which is a hallmark of many organic wines I have tasted.
Her Blanc de Noir Touriga Nacional 2017 has a very light golden colour with a nose of lime, lemon and grapefruit. On the palate very crisp with notes of grapefruit and almonds giving it an almost Ontario Riesling feel. It was fermented in stainless steel.
Her Encruzado/ Malvasia Fina/ Semillon 2016 is medium gold in colour with a nose and taste of lime, lemon and grapefruit but with less of a tart finish than the Blanc de Noir. The wine spent 2-3 months in new French oak.
The Julia Kemper White Reserva 2015 has spent one year in new French oak. Again, lime and lemon on the nose and taste buds but with some vanilla notes. It is medium gold in colour. Ana Julia says this wine has more volume than the other two whites and is more of a winter wine.
The Elpenor 2014 Red Blend is a field blend and has black cherry and blackberry on the nose. It is tart, juicy, peppery and full of black cherry.
The Elpenor Touriga Nacional 2014 Reserva is unoaked. It has a black cherry nose along with hits of blackberry and almonds. Blackberry on the palate and rather tannic. This is good for ageing a few years.
The Julia Kemper 2012 Curiosity is a blend of Alfrocheiro and Touriga Nacional and has received some oak ageing. Again, some blackberry and black cherry on the nose and black cherry, dried fruits, violets and raspberry on the palate. It is purple coloured.
Clean, fresh and enthusiastic wines. Julia Kemper wines deliver quality and purity. Ana Julia strikes me as a dynamo and passionate winemaker. An LCBO search reveals the wine Julia Kemper Reserve Red is available for $40.

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write." Email Robert Stephen

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