Douro, douro Portugal

Legado, first produced in the 2008 vintage, is made in tiny quantities (only 4,000 to 5,000 bottles a year) from an eight hectare vineyard of 100-year-old vines at Quinta do Caêdo in the Cima Corgo. It is without doubt one of Portugal’s finest wines, yet quite distinct from the legendary Barca Velha. The latter is made with fruit sourced from different sites in the Douro Superior (similar in that sense to Penfold’s Grange), while Legado is a single vineyard wine (like Henschke’s Hill of Grace) that Luís Sottomayor, the winemaker for both Legado and Barca Velha, describes as “a singular expression of this site”. It is made from a field blend of 25 different grape varieties, some of which Luís had never previously heard of until they were identified by the University of Porto.

Legado (meaning ‘legacy’) is Fernando Guedes’ tribute to everything that he learnt from his father, and the legacy he wanted to leave for future generations. Fernando’s father was the second generation to lead Sogrape and one of Portugal’s first oenologists to graduate from the University of Dijon in the mid-1950s. One of his enduring legacies was the work he did to draw attention to the quality of the ancient vineyards of the Ribeira do Caêdo Valley.

The vineyard used for Legado is steep and terraced, rising from 200 to 350 metres in altitude. The vines are bush trained and yield on average 0.5 to 1 tonne per hectare. At harvest, the grapes are hand-picked into 20 kilogram crates and transported to Quinta da Leda, where they are fermented in 5 tonne stainless-steel fermenters. “The berries are small, so we don’t need to work the cap very vigorously,” says Luís. Following fermentation, the wines are racked into new French oak barriques and aged for two years in Vila Nova de Gaia.

A recent vertical tasting showed outstanding wines with lovely tannins and vibrant acidity that will ensure the fresh fruit character of the wines will continue to develop beautifully with age. The recently released 2014 vintage is probably the best yet, though time will tell if it will age even better than the hallowed 2010 vintage. Either way, this startlingly good wine deserves more attention!


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