Friday Feature 01/09/15: The 2012 Releases from Quinta Vale D. Maria

Hello and Happy Friday!
The New Year always brings new arrivals, and we will have lots of fun new selections for you in the coming weeks.
One set of new arrivals that just came in at the end of December are the new vintages from superstar Portuguese producer, Quinta Vale D. Maria.
Whether it is their inexpensive “Rufo,” which we sell by the bucketload, to their flagship offerings from the Quinta Vale D. Maria estate, these are some of the most beloved wines that we sell in the store.
In fact, everyone that had a chance to try these when Francisca Van Zeller was in town last year, came back for more.
We are proud to currently be the exclusive retailer of these wines in Illinois.
The Douro region of Portugal, from where these hail has garnered much attention in the last year.  While we don’t often quote press, we believe that a country with as great of wines as Portugal, we must share the consensus so that consumers who are wary realize it has arrived as one of the great wine producing countries.
In last year’s Wine Spectator Top 100, the Douro logged three of the top five spots.  Pretty impressive.
Now we will begin to see the new vintage 2012 arrive to our shores, a vintage that I had the chance to taste when I visited Portugal last July.  Generalizations about the vintage don’t paint the whole picture.  If you have ever been to the Douro you know it offers many different expositions, elevations, and even slight changes to the soils.  Different Douro estates, within a few kilometers, all experienced variations which impacted their wines.
What I can tell you from my visit to Quinta Vale D. Maria is that they produced really outstanding wines in 2012.  There were some wines I may have slightly preferred in 2011, but then others I preferred in 2012.  That’s wine – the differences in the vintages are what makes it interesting and fun to debate.  Nobody, not even Robert Parker knows exactly how these will turn out exactly.
So without further ado, let us introduce you to some world-class wines, that we think any of our collector / drinker clients need to try!
Have a great weekend,
Craig & Sheb



Friday Feature
Quinta Vale D. Maria
The history of Quinta Vale D. Maria starts in 1996, when it was acquired by Cristiano Van Zeller and his wife Joana.  The property had been in Joana’s family for many years.   A huge restoration of the property needed to take place, as well as increasing of vineyards through new plantings and long-term leases.
Today, Quinta Vale D. Maria has 31 hectares of vineyards. 16 hectares, which are fully-owned are 60-80 years-old.  10 hectares which have a long lease are between 25 and 80 years, and new plantings of 5 hectares occurred in 2004 and 2007.
The team behind Quinta Vale D. Maria is an impressive one.  The Van Zeller’s have been involved in the Douro and Port trade since the late 1700’s.  They owned Quinta do Noval, till it was sold in 1993.  Cristiano Van Zeller was the manager of Noval till that point.  His other team members include famed consulting winemaker Sandra Tavares da Silva (owner of Pintas), and full-time winemaker Joana Pinhão.
I’m excited to introduce the line-up of red wines from Quinta Vale D. Maria!
2011 “Rufo” Tinto
It all starts with the “Rufo.”
“Rufo” is the everyday drinking wine from Quinta Vale D. Maria. They use the fruit from younger vines on the estate, as well as some purchased fruit from various cousins in the same region. The wine is a blend of Touriga Franca & Touriga Nacional.
Complex and full-bodied this has enough fruit to make it a glass you can just sip on all by itself.
This is an outstanding value, and the 2011 is dangerously close to selling out!  Insert sad Emoji here.
$15.00 BTL. / $90.00 SIX-PACK CASE – ONLY 60 BOTTLES LEFT!
2012 Quinta Vale D. Maria Douro Tinto
Each person that bought the 2011 Tinto from us commented on how much they loved it, and usually purchased more.  Wait till you have the 2012!
This is the flagship wine of Quinta Vale D. Maria.
There are over 40 different traditional grape varieties blended in this wine, with an average vine age of 60-years-old.  The vineyards are co-planted with these indigenous varietals and harvested together.  Some of the names include Tinta Amarela, Rufete, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Francisca, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Sousão.
When the grapes are harvested they are foot trodden in traditional lagares, or open top stone tanks, with this process typically lasting 1 to 3 days.  There is temperature controlled lining in the lagares to ensure a fermentation range in the 22 to 27 degree Celsius.  Malolactic fermentation takes place in oak casks, two different sizes, and then aged for 21 months in barriques (75% new, 25% 1 year).
The 2012 Tinto is outstanding.  It has the concentration you would expect from a Quinta Vale D. Maria wine, but finishes with more freshness and great length.  I had a chance to taste a 2004 vintage with Cristiano, which was a cooler vintage, and it was in great shape.
The best part about this wine is that it can be opened now (give it a little time in a decanter) and will age nicely over a decade.
A world-class wine – do not miss this!
2012 CV – Curriculum Vitae, Douro
Before Cristiano decided to make his two single vineyard wines, Curriculum Vitae was considered the top wine of the house.  Today, it is one of the top three, but still one of the most impressive wines made in Portugal.
The grapes are grown in one of their vineyards along the river Torto.  It is a North facing vineyard, very old vines, with more than 80 years of age.
The grapes are foot trodden at Quinta Vale D. Maria for 2 days at a cool temperature between 16 and 18 degrees Celsius.  50% of that juice is fermented in the same lagares, and the other 50% in stainless steel vats.  Aging is done in barrique, 75% new and 25% one-year barrels.  Production was down in 2012 to 5,036 bottles.
The 2012 offers some of the same fruit tendencies as 2011 with notes of black cherry and plum, and also is showing some of its baking spices from the oak, yet the finish is very different.  The tannins are a tad softer, and the length and freshness seem to go on and on!
I have no problem with someone opening and decanting a bottle right now.  In fact I would ask that next time you need a gift bottle for someone that is over immersed in wines like Napa Cabernet or even Châteauneuf-du-Pape, that you bring a bottle of this to try!
This of course will age nicely in one’s cellar, so drink now – 2030.
Truly fantastic!
2012 Quinta Vale D. Maria “Vinha da Francisca,” Douro
A single plot on the Quinta Vale D. Maria estate, the vines for Vinha da Francisca were planted in 2004.  The 4.5 hectare vineyard is planted with Tinta Francisca (an old varietal introduced in the Douro in 1756), Touriga Franca, Sousão, Rufete and Touriga Nacional.
Like the others, the grapes are foot trodden in lagares, but also fermented in those lagares.  The wine was racked into Allier oak, undergoing malolactic fermentation in those barrels and aging.
I thought it was going to be difficult to outdo the 2011 Vinha da Francisca, but in my estimation the 2012 does so.  The hallmark of this wine is its aromatic exuberance, always teeming with beautiful red fruits, mineral and spice.  It has a very seductive, silky texture that firms up a bit at the end.  Again, that freshness of 2012 really adds to the length.
Only 7,800 bottles produced, and this will be very rarely seen in the United States.
For those that want to drink sooner than later, this is special!
2012 Quinta Vale D. Maria “Vinha do Rio,” Douro
The amazing thing about the Quinta Vale D. Maria estate is that every plot is identified and many vinified on their own.
It was this knowledge of their different terroir within the property that led Cristiano Van Zeller to decide to make a special wine from his oldest parcel on the property.  Called Vinha do Rio (River Vineyard) it sits at lower altitude, very close to the river.  The vines were planted 100 years ago.
The wine is fermented and aged in the same manner as Vinha da Francisca, but the flavors and identity are completely different.
Compared alongside the Vinha da Francisca, the aromas introduce a dark cherry, red currant note alongside darker berries, notes of mineral and cocoa.  Texturally, this is much richer and full-bodied than Vinha da Francisca, but again with that hallmark balance and complexity.
The 2012 was recently reviewed by Mark Squires of The Wine Advocate and given 94 points, one of the highest rated Douro wines of the vintage.
With only 2696 bottles produced, this is very rare stuff indeed. This is always the wine that sells out the quickest from the winery and will do so from my store as well.
A perfect gift to yourself, or someone else!
Cellar and drink from 2018-2035.
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