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Quinta do Noval
by
Kathy and Terry Sullivan

Quinta do NovalSummary: With panoramic views of the Douro Valley, Quinta do Noval is definitely a destination
for wine enthusiasts and travelers. During our late March visit, we observed the architecture of the pruned vines and the sculpture of the terraces. Today Quinta do Noval belongs to the AXA Millésimes wine group.

We visited Quinta do Noval on a cool, cloudy day. Despite the coolness, as we walked a long distance from the bus to the white sprawling winery, we enjoyed wondrous, panoramic views of the terraced vineyards in the Douro Valley. From the Qunta do Noval estate, one sees and feels the grandeur of the Douro Valley and its magnificent terraced vineyards. Along the path to the winery, in addition to the vineyard views, we saw signs of spring with various flowers bursting out in color.

Quinta do NovalAccording to Patricia Bastos, our guide during our visit to Quinta do Noval, the winery was the first port house to have a lodge on the property rather than in Vila Nova de Gaia across the Douro River from Porto. For Quinta do Noval, everything is taking place here in the Douro Valley, although the company does have a tasting room in Vila Nova de Gaia.

In 1993, AXA Millésimes, a French group bought the property. Quinta do Noval consists of two vineyards, with one close to the estate house.

History

Quinta do Noval dates back to 1715 when a priest, who was interested in wine, began producing still wines. Years later Luiz Vasconcelos Porto sought to make improvements and began to broaden the narrow terraces. After purchasing the vineyard in1894 when the vineyards had been destroyed by phylloxera, António José da Silva replanted the vineyards. In 1958 the winery started producing a Late Bottled Vintage port. Even after many years, Quinta do Noval seeks to continually improve their winemaking techniques for producing quality wines.

Vineyards

Quinta do NovalThe vineyards consist of 145 hectares (358 acres). One hundred of these hectares are located around the house. Altitude stretches from 50 meters (164 feet) high to 500 meters (1,649 feet) high. The other 45 hectares (111 acres) are located eight kilometers (4.9 miles) away. Grape varieties growing in the vineyard include: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Francisca and Sousão. It should be noted that the vineyards for producing port cannot be irrigated.

At Quinta do Noval, terraced walls are made of schist. Only work in these special terraced vineyards can take place by hand or horse. It is possible to use machines where the terrace walls are not made of schist. Patricia noted that the schist walls are the traditional walls of the region so they cannot be taken down, only repaired.

Patricia took us to a special vineyard plot at a higher elevation where Touriga Nacional was planted on its own rootstock. These grapevines survived the devastating phylloxera. The port made from these very old vines during a vintage year sells for a high price. A bottle of such a port from 2011 sells for 1,000 euros ($1,234).

Quinta do Noval

Spend some time scanning the terraced vineyards and the surrounding countryside.

Winemaking

The winemaker crushes and ferments the wines in granite lagars for three days and then adds a high grape spirits alcohol to halt the fermentation preserving much of the sugar. On the first day, the winemaking team can use people to stomp grapes. Fermentation takes place on day two. On the third day a mechanical system is used to punch down the cap and mix the skins with the juice since the carbon dioxide is harmful for people to breathe.

Quinta do Noval     Quinta do Noval

Quinta do NovalThe barrel room was filled with large, wood vats. There were also cement vats. It was intriguing to notice the vintage rafters above the barrels. It appeared that the rafters were splinted together to increase their length.

Quinta do Noval Ports

Our wine tasting took place in an elegant house on the property. The house was adorned with a mix of Portuguese and English styles. At the time of our visit, the tasting room was having work done on it. Our tasting took place in a large room on the first floor of the house.

The Noval Black, a ruby reserva, was an opaque ruby color that was a blend of three harvests of different grapes. The aroma was of fresh black fruits. The taste included notes of black cherries and black raspberries. The finish was fruity. This wine with 19.5% alcohol and 80 g/L of residual sugar is also good in cocktails. This is an easy drinking port. Consider pairing it with a chocolate dessert.

Quinta do NovalColheita 2000, bottled in 2017, was a translucent red color. Dried fruit was on the aroma. The taste included notes of cherry and plums. The finish was fruity with a bit of heat. The wine bottle back label read, “Quinta do Noval Colheita 2000 is an old Tawny produced from a single harvest, made from grapes exclusively grown in Quinta do Noval’s own vineyards, in the heart of the Douro valley. Matured in oak barrels since the harvest until its bottling, it combines finesse and elegance with creamy and nutty characteristics. Ideally served as an accompaniment to chocolate, cheese, dessert or simply on its own.”

Late Bottle Vintage 2012 was an opaque dark ruby color with a purple hue. This unfiltered wine offered dried black fruit notes. The taste was of cherries and plums. The finish was fruity with some mineral on the aftertaste. The wine was 19.5% alcohol with 90 g/L of residual sugar. Serve this wine with strong cheese.

The 10 Year Tawny was a translucent light red color. The aroma was intense with notes of dried fruits. The taste was very smooth with cherries and blackberries. The finish was fruity. Enjoy this wine as an aperitif or with cheese.

Wine enthusiasts, travelers and photographers will want to make a special effort to visit Quinta do Noval. The breathtaking beauty of the area begs for continuous visits during the different seasons. Tastings can take place in Vila Nova De Gaia.

 

Quinta do Noval Tasting Room in Vila Nova De Gaia
AV. Diogo Leite, 256
4400 - 111
Vila Nova De Gaia, Portugal

 

Article written April 2018.

 



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