Port, Quinta do Infantado
Quinta do Infantado, based in Pinhão, has been a leader in estate-bottled Ports since 1979. Prior to 1986, the British monopoly on Port required that all exported Ports be sent in bulk to Vila Nova de Gaia, 60 miles west of the Douro Valley, where they were bottled and shipped. This practice effectively prevented small private producers from exporting their wines, since the cost of running an operation in another town was prohibitive for these vineyard owners. In 1986 the laws were changed and Quinta do Infantado, who were already making their own wines, were amongst the first to begin exporting their wines. The estate, run by the brother and sister team of João and Catherine Roseira, is famous for producing ports that are meio-seco or medium-dry in style. Infantado’s wines have more natural alcohol and less sugar than other ports, meaning that less “aguardente” or grape brandy has to be added. The wines are therefore more vinous (still wine-like), more balanced and drier than most ports. They only use fruit from their own vineyards, and the wines are bottled at the estate. Every cuvée they produce is from Class A vineyards. These vineyards (terraced, very steep, with densely packed soil) are worked in traditional methods; all of the work is done by hand, from harvest through vilification. The grapes ferment long and slowly in lagares (2-foot high stone tanks) and are still foot “trodden;” less than 2% of Port is still made by this century old, labor-intensive method.
Touriga Franca/Touriga Nacional/Tinta Roriz/Tinta Barroca. From exclusively Class A parcels (Serra di Cima and Serra Douro) totaling twelve hectares on poor schist soils. The fruit is hand-harvested, partly destemmed and fermented in lagar and tank; fermentation is stopped with seventy-seven-degree grape brandy. The wine is aged in very old pipas. A pipa or 'pipe" in English is the traditional 550-liter wooden cask used for aging, as well as measuring quantities of, port; it is ideal for tawnies, as oxidation is promoted by its horizontal orientation, smaller capacity and thinner staves (versus the thicker ones of the huge wooden tank called a tonel or balseiro used for ruby and vintage ports). Infantado tawny finishes at a modest nineteen and one-half percent and seventy grams per liter of residual sugar, considerably drier than most tawnies. The average age in the bottle is four to five years.