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The influence of the Marão on the Douro Valley climate

100km East of Porto city, the Serra do Marão surrounds the Douro River, giving birth to the Douro Valley as the river carved its path through it. Its highest peak is standing over 1400 meters. The Marão role is crucial for the weather pattern we are seeing in the Douro Valley. Its configuration and height are blocking most of the external influences leaving the valley in its own 60km long microclimate.

Isolated from the Atlantic ocean’s warmth during the winter and its refreshing influence during the summer, Douro will be on average 7 degrees colder than Porto during the winter and 7 degrees warmer during the summer. This translates into long and cold winters with temperatures flirting with zero at night and hot summers often reaching up to 45 celcius in some areas.

If you look at this map you’ll notice that the mountains also have an impact on the rainfall. As it blocks most of the rain clouds aiming for the region, leaving the Douro in a semi-arid continental climate, represented in light blue on the map, very abnormal for its geolocation. In some unusual years, we’ve seen part of the Douro receiving such low rainfall as the Sahara desert.

For viticulture, this climate brings pros and cons. The cold winter helps the vine to go dormant and is beneficial for slowing or reducing diseases, viruses and bacterias affecting the vines. Since most of the rainfall occurs when the fruits and leaves are not developed, it drastically reduces the need for treatment in the vineyards. Making sustainable viticulture an easier task than most regions. On the other hand, during the hot and dry summer, the vine can suffer from hydric stress and sunburns as Douro’s sun is as intense as it can be. A few isolated summer showers are welcomed to relieve the vines from the stress and ensure proper fruit maturation.

Through the years the vines were forced to adapt to this microclimate creating unique varieties with thick skins and high sugar content potential that are essential for the generous red wines and long living Port wines. White wines and white Ports can also find their ease in this region with plenty of vineyards located at the top of the hills often reaching 600m where the air is cooler, a necessity for these categories.

Our main quinta, Senhora Rosário stands on top of the hill of São João da Pesqueira, 650m above sea level. As you can see on the photo below, the Marão is our horizon when we look west and gives us spectacular sunsets. The other photo was taken close to Vila Real, where the mountains are part of the scenery behind the vineyards.

We hope to welcome you soon and share a glass of Port together while watching the sunset over the Marão.


Sunset from Senhora Rosário

Great view on the Marão from Vila Real

The soil of the Douro, lost in translation. Is there really schist in the soil of the Douro?

In Portuguese, the soil of the Douro is named ‘’xisto’’. If you look on google translate you’ll see that xisto’s first result will be schist which is also the closest phonetically. But if you also look for the word shale translated into Portuguese, you’ll find the answer to be xisto as well! Commonly, many articles and features talk about the most predominant element of the soil of the Valley as being schist but…
Is there really schist in the Douro? Well the answer is yes BUT very little!

Wait… what!? Yes! For so many years we’ve been promoting our unique schist soil, this information was relayed by many over the years and we’ve created this myth.

When you start digging into some reliable technical geologic sources and talking to experts in the region such as my friend Ryan Opaz, you quickly identify that the rocks you are stepping on as you walk in the vineyard are shale. Shale can come in different colors depending on the minerals in it: blue, red, yellow, brown. It is highly fragile sedimentary rocks and breaks easily in your hands.

Schist on the other hand is much harder and is easily recognizable by its highly foliated plate-shaped mineral grains that are large enough to see with our eyes. We can find some mica-schists in the Douro.

The good news is that schist and shale are from the same family of rocks called metamorphic rocks. Through high pressure and temperature, sediments are being compressed and combined with other minerals to result in different metamorphic rocks depending on the steps they went through.

Here you can find a clear path of the transition phases from shale to gneiss.

Douro soil results from a complex amalgamation of different metamorphic rocks from shale to gneiss that got shifted from its horizontal alignment to a semi vertical one. It is mostly composed of phyllite (in the lower parts) and shale (in the upper parts) residing on and surrounded by granite. We’ll also find amounts of the other rocks like slate, schists, gneiss and quartz in their singular forms but also in transition stages outcropping in small amounts to the top. Each stone’s color is the signature of its mineral composition and they vary a lot in the Douro.

Each combination of those rocks will give each vineyard or parcell a unique character. A simple example: at our quinta da Trovisca we planted some Sousão grapes in a high aluminum content shale parcell. We can clearly see that Sousão does not perform as well as our Tinta Roriz. It is hard work to understand our vineyards and adapt each variety we are planting to the mineral composition of the soil below!

This unique configuration of metamorphic rocks in the Douro is the reason why viticulture is possible in this arid location where the vine is tested to its limit. The fragile shale vertically aligned permits the strong vine roots to find its way as deep as 10 meters sometimes. The strong dew formed by the contrast of high temperatures during the day and cold nights also finds its way down the layers of shale to the roots offering some relief to the vine during high hydric stress days of the Douro’s intense summer. At the bottom, the granite base is impermeable to water and in some places, it will retain the spring rain and create reserves the vines can reach during the season.

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment. I look forward to welcoming in the Douro this year, we’ll share a glass of wine or Port while contemplating our shale-filled vineyards.



Our Journey Into Organic

Our journey into Organic practices in our farms and vineyards started in 2005 when my father started growing 20 hectares of olive trees to make organic olive oil in Valongo dos Azeites, his mother’s home village. For our vineyards, we started converting them in 2013 starting with the new plantations and existing young vineyards in the heart of Quinta da Trovisca. The next vineyard to be converted was Quinta da Senhora Rosário, next to our winery, home to our oldest parcells and newly planted white grape blocks.

Going organic was an easy decision, but the actual implementation is not so simple and you have to be prepared to handle its implications. The most important one is manual labour, as it becomes significantly more intensive than in traditional methods. In our case it meant that instead of spraying once a year some chemicals to get rid of the weeds, we started to trim manually or mechanically the growing vegetation around 3 times a year.

Also, organic farming implies that there is more life growing around the vines, therefore healthy competition for the ressources occurs. The vine then produces less fruits but the quality is definitively higher.

Converting our production to organic is a progressive process in which we keep learning and improving our efficiency at farming our vineyards. So far we have converted 2 of our 5 vineyards and we keep working to diminish the impact on the rest of the states by using more sophisticated equipment that helps reduce the use of chemicals. The main difficulty we face in the Douro Valley is the vegetation control in the abrupt ramps between the terraces – Yes, those magnificent steep slopes that create the amazing World Heritage Landscape have it’s disadvantages…

Currently we are working into bringing sheeps and chickens to the vineyards which will help to maintain the weeds controlled while leaving behind first quality fertilizers! Maybe your next case of Oscar’s bio will come with cheese or eggs 🙂



6 Tricks to preserve your wine once it is opened.

When you have a nice dinner at home with friends and family, you will probably end up drinking all the bottles of wines you are opening. In other moments, for example when you feel like having just a glass of wine for yourself while relaxing reading your book, what are your options? Recently many of you have been asking about how long you can keep a bottle of wine or Port once opened and what are the best tricks to keep it fresh for as long as possible.

So let’s begin with the basics: What happens when you open a bottle of wine or Port?
When you pop up a bottle, Oxygen – the main troublemaker- gets in contact with the wine components and triggers a chain of reactions altering its structure, its color, its aromas and its flavours.
The pace of the changes depend on many factors (which I won’t be able to cover all today) but mostly on 3 main ones:
– The temperature you are storing the wine at
– The surface of the wine in contact with oxygen and
– The time the wine has been opened.

More oxygen will dissolve into your wine at cold temperatures but the changes will happen slower, while at higher temperatures, less oxygen will dissolve in your wine but the changes will happen faster. As everything, it is a question of balance!

Today, I want to share with you the tricks I use and my experience using some tools available on the market. I suggest you find your own combination to preserve your wines depending on the conditions you have and the tools you want to use.

All those tricks are equally good for Port and for wine. Due to its higher content of sugar and alcohol, Port is more resistant than wine but I recommend you treat it like wine and not like spirit. The changes will simply happen slower with Port under the same conditions.

1-The best and easiest way to preserve your wine is to keep it in a space with as little contact with oxygen as possible and store it at cold temperature to slow down the oxidation process. If you can plan ahead, find a smaller bottle that you will fill upon opening your bottle of wine. Then keep it in the fridge until next service. You can easily keep your wine for a week like this with little impact. This is how we handle our samples at the winery using half bottles or emptied sparkling/tonic water bottles of smaller size.

2- If you plan to drink the remaining wine over the next 1-3 days. Simply put the cork back on the bottle, leave it on the counter, away from the light at room temperature (12-16C 53-60F). This is what I normally do at home, it is my sweet spot where I find the oxygen does not dissolve much into the wine and the temperature for the oxidation reactions is slow enough. This way I can also follow the evolution of the wine and it gives me an idea how it will evolve when I’ll want to open my next bottle. If you can’t get your bottle at this temperature, put it in the fridge, it is better to have your wine preserved at lower temperature than extreme temperatures, especially for summer days.

3- If you like gadgets, you can use those vacuum pumps to remove as much air and oxygen as possible from the wine bottle before putting back the cork. This will slow down the reactions and help you keep your wine as good as trick #2 but up to a week. If trick #2 fits you, you don’t really need this tool.

4- Another tool is inert gas.There are many solutions in the market but from my experience the best one is Coravin. How does it work? This gadget is applied to a closed bottle and its small needle allows you to extract the wine while replacing it with an inert gas (Argon gas), ensuring oxygen never touches the remaining wine. Once you are done, you simply remove the gadget and the cork will naturally expand again to its original shape. The cost of such a gadget is not inexpensive but it does seem to keep your wine fresher and brighter for a longer period of time. In my experience using Coravin, I felt that sometimes the wines got a bit dull and bitter. Also, when used many times on the same bottle, the cork has its limitations therefore I’ve seen many leaking.

5- Try to open your leftover bottle the fewest times possible. Anytime you open your bottle again, fresh oxygen comes in and more changes will happen. Ideally, you’d drink your bottle and its leftover on 2 different occasions. For Port it is less dramatic but the fewer the better.

6- Always keep your bottle standing up. If you keep it stored on its side, you’ll simply increase its surface in contact with oxygen and increase the oxidation process.

Answering some of your questions:

I’ve heard I could put a spoon on top of an opened sparkling wine or beer to keep it fresh and bubbly if I preserve it in the fridge”.

It is a popular belief and I don’t know where this comes from, but from my experience it is just a myth.

I’ve seen many friends keeping their Port in a nice decanter in the living room for many years. It is safe to drink?

Yes! The big difference over the years between Port and wine is that Port will not turn into vinegar and will still be proper for consumption. It will just have a dramatically different aromatic and flavor profile.

I hope this text answers some of your doubts and if you have any more questions, please do not hesitate, I’ll do my best to answer them!


wine oxidation once opened

Which tools to open a bottle of wine?

Here are some tools you can use to open your wine/Port bottles. Which one do you prefer?

-The 2 step corkscrew is definitively the most versatile and easy tool to use.
With older wines, it can be tricky, as the cork gets softer or sticks to the glass inside the neck. With the corkscrew it can often break in 2.
-The twin blade(Ah-So) is very useful to open old bottles or if you want to preserve your cork for your collection. Here is a cool link on how to use it
-The Port Tong is another great tool to open old bottles as you heat the glass by its contact, so it can break easily by applying very cold cloth. It requires more preparation but it is always a joy to hear the cracking of the glass.
I did a video a few years ago on how to use them, follow this link


bottle opener tools

Aging wine-In Vino Veritas

Today I want to discuss wine aging. How can we tell if a wine will age well or not?

As passionate wine lovers, we dream of that moment where we put our lips in a cup of wine that is older than us. We’ve heard or read stories of those perfect old wines giving you chills after the first sniff in the glass. My epiphany arrived in 2010 when Villar D’Allen, a famous Port merchant family with long Port history asked my sister and I to create a blend for them. After a dinner in their historic estate, they forged in me long living memories of the perfect taste from an 1827 Vintage Port.

Aging wine was not only a fashion or a tradition, it was mandatory. Most of the great wines were not approachable in their youth and you had to keep them in your cellar for the harsh structure and flavours to smoothen or disappear. Only in the last 50 years we’ve studied oenology(the science of winemaking) seriously. We’ve learned more about ripeness and what part of the grape brings which component or flavour to the final wine. Combined with greater knowledge and prediction of weather forecast, we are able to harvest higher quality grapes, thus making much better wine and more approachable wines in their youth. This is equally true for still wines and Port wines, especially Ruby that ages in the bottle.

In the last 30 years, we’ve seen a race to make bigger wines, riper wines, bolder wines with no rough edges, great amounts of new oak flavours and increasing amount of residual sugar to hide the defects. Have we gone too far in this search of instant gratification, have we distanced ourselves too much from the essence of wine?

At Quevedo, we’ve decided to observe a moderate position meaning we do not take shortcuts that could amputate our wine aging potential but we also embrace some of the modern knowledge to make our wines better in their youth. We believe our wines should express its location and origin first before any other outside flavours. We are making wine not oak infusion. Oak is like salt and pepper, it brings complexity and it should not overtake the meal. We want our wines to be very good when we bottled them. But we do not want to sacrifice their future in any way, we hope that every wine we produce will be better and improve with some age in the bottle.

This is a tremendous task to find the perfect balance between each component to ensure the wine will evolve and improve instead of simply surviving in the bottle. Tannins, acidity, flesh, pH, extraction… Too much of one, not enough of the other and the wine that look promising will probably fall apart after a few years. We are coming back to a balance but for too many years some believed the bigger the wines, the better they will age. Balance is always the key for wine aging, tannins are great antioxidants, acidity is just as well and it keeps the wine fresh, especially for the whites.

Here are the keys when trying to figure out if a wine will age well. Balance and length of flavours on the palate are the 2 best components to look for. Some wines leave a very long presence on the palate but if it is because of the tannic structure, the strength of the alcohol or the bite of the acidity, these are signs of unbalanced wines, some will survive but few will evolve in the way that your patience will be rewarded. Another important piece of information that nowadays is easy to find, information from previous vintage. Look around and look how wine lovers are appreciating the wines from the previous years.

As usual, if you have more questions, do not hesitate!

P.S. The photo below is a Port from Noval 1879

To Blend or not to Blend, that is the Question!

As far as we remember, the Douro has always been a land where we were blending grapes. Blending in the vineyards, blending in the stone lagares, blending in the cellar and blending before bottling! Over 200 grape varieties exist in the Douro, the possibilities are endless. The only exception to this rule has been : the Moscatel. This grape, famous since the roman time as one of Alexander the Great’s favorite wines, remained very popular in the Douro as well as a single variety fortified wine.

Douro is a land of extreme climate conditions. No year is the same, even today with climate change, it is not different. Some grapes benefit from some weather patterns and others suffer. The idea with the traditional field blend approach was to always have good grapes every year. Our ancestors also understood the importance of old vines. Vines that had memory of the harsh conditions and could adapt over the years and could then survive the conditions in which they once suffered. This fact is still very important nowadays as you clearly see your old vineyards doing better in intense drought as their root system is strong and resistant.

This was the reality in the Douro until the early 1950’s, when Fernando Nicolau de Almedia decided to travel across Europe and visit other wine regions like Rioja, Bordeaux and Burgundy to see how different they were doing their viticulture and vinification. He came back motivated to make one of the greatest dry wines in Europe, the now famous Barca Velha. It was a revolution for the Douro.

Him and his son, João Nicolau  were the first to really start studying and planting single variety vineyards. It was a breakthrough, their focus was to understand the best location and soil to plant single varieties vineyards and be able to get the best expression from that variety. They were followed by many. They were also responsible for identifying the best grape varieties and clones to plant.

Since the 1990’s single variety wines have been increasingly popular. Successful marketing campaign and simplified approach to the customers made it easier for them to understand they would love a Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia, South Africa or USA instead of decoding the labels and the regions. Portugal did not escape that trend with Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz(Tempranillo) leading the way. Nowadays there is an increase in production of single varieties wine, the market demands it but it is also very interesting to produce. I also think it is primordial for us Douro producers to remain authentic and share with the customers our heritage and difference and not start to plant Cabernet, Merlot or Pinot just to generate sales. Fashion comes and goes, but authenticity remains, this is what we want to offer.

As Port will always remain a blended wine, dry wines production on the other hand has more flexibility with the law. Is there a way better than the other? Not really. The best wine is always the wine you prefer and for us as a producer, our job is to put love and effort in the fields to craft products we enjoy and offer you the diversity to appreciate our region. We could see single variety vs blends wines as team sports vs individual sports, they both have something exciting to offer.

One little experiment we started in 2020 is to plant a small block of Tinta Miuda. The idea is simple, to learn more and see if it will be interesting enough to offer on its own or if it can improve one of our current blends. I do not know any other producer experimenting with this grape. To be followed!

On the photos you can see our old vineyards, looking at the wire’s dried sprouts, they had many harvest. Then next is our new plantation of Tinta Miuda, its first summer and being farmed organically.




Moon and Wine, Myth or Reality!?!

Even when we do not see it, it is somewhere up there and its gravity, as we all know, creates the tides on our blue planet. The Moon, the lonely satellite of planet Earth has always been captivating humans throughout history. Some believe it can influence our behaviors and even the growth of life.

What about wine? Biodynamic followers in viticulture and winemaking are growing rapidly. Part of the concept is to use the moon calendar when it is time to make important decisions like treatments in the vineyard, picking the fruits, racking or bottling the wine.

Some firmly believe the Moon phase has an impact on the quality of the fruit, the growth of the plant, the quality and expression of the wine or the sediments in suspension within the barrels. While some believers argue and disagree on many aspects, science is more on the side of the myth to the exception of the moonlight impact during night activities. Did you know the Moon reflects 30% of the sunlight it receives!?

It is not easy to take side on this. One day you think this is crazy then another day you meet someone with so many convincing stories that you want to believe into it. Maybe one day we’ll have the knowledge and the tools to understand exactly what is going on… or not!

In the meantime I can share with you one of our Moon stories. In 2016 we did our first experience to produce an orange wine(skin contact white wine). After 6 days in the tank, it did not ferment and I was getting worried. My friend Simon Woolf who was helping me in this project told me ‘’You’ll see, today it is the full moon and it will start fermenting’’. After dinner, we went to the winery to decide what we’ll do with the wine, guess what!? It was finally fermenting. We had to call the wine Moon Lagar.

One thing is sure though, organic, biodynamic or common sense, if you take care of Mother Earth, you get the quality of fruit you deserve.

I invite you to read Simon’s website with current news on wild and wonderful wines : https://www.themorningclaret.com/
If you are curious, this website debuks or debate on some of the myths around the world of wines : https://winemakermag.com/technique/527-myth-busting

Proper Glass for Port

We are often asked what is a good glass to drink Port from. Here are a few tips to choose the perfect glass.

Port wine should be considered more like wine, less like a spirit. You want a glass with a shape that can create a chimney, meaning the base should be slightly larger than the top. This allows the aromas to concentrate. You don’t want the glass to be too wide nor too tall in order to allow the alcohol to be present in the perfect amount.

When you serve your Port wine, don’t fill the glass more than 1/3. This enables you and your friends to swirl and smell/taste properly your Port.
Ideally hold it by the stem or base of the glass. This way, you’ll keep enjoying its beautiful color and you won’t warm it too fast.
This means the first 3 glasses are too small and too full, unfortunately we still see too much Port served like this, while the 4 other glasses have the proper shape, size and serving.

port glass

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