On the steep slopes of Douro, close to the mouth of the Torto River, among ancient vines and timeless lands, unforgettable wines are being produced. Welcome to Quinta do Vale D. Maria.
By the time Cristiano Van Zeller recovered an estate that, for two and a half centuries, had belonged to his wife’s family, all he found was ruins and devastation.
But the grapes of the old estate had earned their place among the Smith Woodhouse Vintage; and Van Zeller, a remarkable oenophile that had been the chairman of Quinta do Noval, could easily detect a diamond in the rough.
With infinite vigor he rebuilt the houses, wine presses and traditional Oporto wineries; he turned a shed that used to lodge the workers into a guesthouse, raised a cellar and acquired or rented land until he gathered 45 hectares of remarkable vineyards.
The first harvest occurred in 1996. To say it was a success would be an understatement – The Quinta Vale D. Maria wines were celebrated by the much renowned experts and international wine magazines.
Since then, masterpieces like “Vinha da Francisca” red or “CV Curriculum Vitae” have become a part of our national heritage. Some of his creations are among the best of the Wine Advocate exclusive rankings. The brand’s prestige is overwhelming.
Nowadays, the farm proudly bears a prodigious variety of 41 Douro traditional red wine varieties like “Tinta Amarela”, “Tinta Barroca”, “Rufete”, Tinta Roriz”, “Touriga Francesa”, “Touriga Nacional” and “Sousão”. Circa 26 hectares are home to over 60 - year old vines; other 14 hectares host 30 year - old ones and in some small plots, the vines range from 80 to one hundred years old.
The vineyards’ potential is strengthened by the diversity of the land, by the exposure to the sun, altitudes and perfected by a deep knowledge of traditional techniques of the region, of the industry and terroir innovations.
Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that Quinta do Vale D. Maria exports almost two thirds of its production, rendering the connoisseurs from dozens of countries speechless. When the wines achieve this quality, character and perfection pinnacle, they carry within a breath of life that crosses borders and rests like sunshine in the soul of those who taste them.