Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo, Douro Valley, Portugal
With a history dating as far back as 1725 and with buildings almost as old, Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo is one of the most elegant estates of the Douro valley. The current owners are the Amorim family, of cork production fame, who purchased the property in 1999. After selling off the estate's Burmester Port label and stocks, Quinta Nova now concentrates on producing high quality DOC Douro wines and vintage and LBV ports from its 85 hectares under cultivation. In addition to scoring as high as 96 points for its premium Mirabilis Grande Reserve White and 94 for its matching level red from Robert Parker, Quinta Nova's wines constantly take top prizes in international competitions.
We had the unique opportunity to visit Quinta Nova during our first Iberian Peninsula adventure, as guests of Amorim, the world's largest cork producer and one of the most dynamic Portuguese multinationals. Following a walk through the vineyards and a tour of the winery, we were treated to a guided tasting of their wines, both still and fortified.
Starting with the whites, we preferred the vibrant fruity and mineral tastes of the entry-level Pomaris white, an unoaked blend of 3 local varieties over the mid-range Grainha Reserva. The latter blend is aged in French and Hungarian barrels which give the wine a smooth finish but which we felt suppresses the wonderful mineral and tropical notes typical of the region which makes the Douro whites so refreshing and enjoyable.
Among the reds, we tasted the Reserva 2013, Grande Reserva 2013, the Referencia Grande Reserve 2013 and Mirabilis 2013. We found the Reserva 2013 the most approachable despite its being quite robust. The label is embossed with the route of the Douro River and shows the position of Quinta Nova. Both the Grande Reservas are based on vines from the winery's oldest plot (25%), where dozens of varieties were planted together around a century ago, then each with 75% of either Tinta Roriz or Touriga Nacional. We preferred the Referencia with its more intense aromas, spicy and red fruit tastes and longer finish from the Tinta Roriz. All the reserve series wines will improve with careful aging.
The winery has an excellent view of the Douro river, and it's contour-hugging vines are postcard perfect. It is possible to stay at the winery hotel and take a meal at their in-house restaurant Conceitus. It is imperative to reserve well in advance, not only for the accommodation but also for the restaurant and winery tours.
David Silverman is a wine, travel and lifestyle photographer whose work is distributed worldwide by Getty Images
Photos and text by David Silverman/dpsimages. Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved.