Ferreira

Douro, douro Portugal

Founded in 1751, when the Port trade was dominated by British shippers, Ferreira is the oldest Portuguese Port house and remains the leader in the domestic market.

It was under the leadership of Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, one of the formidable widows of the world of wine, that the company became the force it is today. Not only was Dona Antónia an astute businesswoman – expanding the company’s vineyard holdings, developing viticulture in the Douro Superior and protecting the company’s library stocks – she also fought to improve quality of life for the impoverished people of the Douro, building schools and hospitals and supporting them during the phylloxera crisis. Dona Antónia was ahead of her time in recognising the importance of vineyard ownership to guarantee quality at a point when most other Port houses bought bulk wine from farmers. By the time of her death in 1896, Ferreira had become the largest Douro landowner and owned many illustrious Quintas including Quinta do Vesúvio, Quinta de Vargellas and Quinta do Vale Meão.

Today, the 27-hectare ‘Quinta do Porto’ is Ferreira’s flagship vineyard. Planted in 1771 and acquired by Dona Antónia in 1863, it is located on the north bank of the Douro, downstream from the village of Pinhão and facing Sandeman’s ‘Quinta do Seixo’ on the south bank. A warmer mesoclimate, due to the south/south-west exposure of the terraced vineyards and the proximity to the river, results in Ports characterised by an exuberant ripeness, exceptional concentration, weight and structure, yet wonderful balance. Old-vine parcels, described by winemaker Luís Sottomayor as “over retirement age”, produce low yields of intensely flavoured grapes and form the backbone of many of the top Ports in the Ferreira range. The entire Quinta is dry farmed, sustainable practices are followed and harvesting is carried out by hand.

The ‘Quinta do Porto’ Single Quinta Vintage Port is the purest expression of this vineyard’s unique sense of place. The recently declared 2019 vintage is a blend of 42% Touriga Franca, 36% Touriga Nacional and 22% fruit from a small field-blend parcel of over 100-year-old vines. Foot trodden in granite lagares, it has wonderful depth of flavour with layers of brooding black fruit married with hints of mint and a stony minerality.

Luís claims that Vintage Ports are ‘made by God, with the help of men’. If this is the case, the almighty certainly had a hand in the latest declaration: the 2018 Vintage Port was awarded a perfect 100-point score by Wine Enthusiast’s Roger Voss who described it as immensely age worthy and impressively structured, striking “a perfect balance between its powerful, spicy fruits and firm tannins”. The Late Bottled Vintage, aged in cask in the Ferreira lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia for around five years before release, is more immediately approachable.

Luís’ adage continues that Aged Tawnies, conversely, are ‘made by men, with the help of God’. So, it is mostly Luís’ expertise in the art of Aged Tawny blending that secured the ‘Dona Antónia’ the 20-Year-Old Tawny Port Trophy at the 2021 International Wine Challenge. This intense and complex Tawny is a blend of Ports between 15 and 40 years of age and is bursting with evolved flavours of dried figs and apricots, roasted hazelnuts, baking spice and toffee.

The three white Ports in the Ferreira range all offer something different. The Dry White Port is young, fresh and bursting with citrussy aromatics. The Reserva has spent an average of seven years ageing in oak casks and has a delicious raisiny richness on the palate. The ‘Dona Antónia’ 10-Year-Old, the most opulent of the three, is a blend of white Ports aged for between 8 to 15 years. Amber in colour with intense aromas of dried citrus peel, nuts and caramel, it perfectly marries oomph and elegance.

 

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