It was quite easily one of the most stunningly beautiful vineyards we'd ever seen. Vines covered in autumn's reds, yellows, and oranges stretched in neat rows towards green fields beyond, a country road turning around the next vineyard where houses dot the hillside, river and mountains beyond, white clouds streaking across the crystal blue sky above, all seen through the floor to ceiling window in the tasting room at Quevedo, one of the Douro's finest port wineries.
We had become acquainted with the Quevedo winemaking family -- Oscar, Oscar Jr, and Claúdia -- through our friend Marco, the winemaker behind Penada Wines in Portugal's Tras-os-Montes and Travessia Urban Winery in New Bedford, Massachusetts. They, in turn, introduced us to the wonderful Quinta do Pôpa winery. Our conclusion in this, our last installment (for now) on this winemaking circle of life is clear: Northern Portugal produces phenomenal wines and expert winemaking families in one of the most naturally beautiful places we've ever seen.
Located in São João Pesqueira, near the Douro River about two hours' drive from Porto (Portugal's second largest city and the epicenter of port wine), Quevedo are fifth generation winemakers specializing mostly in Port with a smaller complement of still wines. I recently wrote of the journey from Porto to the Douro Valley:
Quevedo's production is 110 hectares spread across six vineyards, of which two are found down in the valley closer to the river than the winery itself. We ventured into the cellar with our host, where we found stately hundred-year-old port barrels upon which you can lay a hand and almost feel the work of history, each chalked with the year of their content's birth: 2012, 1996, 1985, 1970, 1968, and on it goes. These wines have endured longer than their still cousins, from grape to enormous 87,000ml tank, eventually fortified with Portuguese brandy where fermentation is stopped, to long slumber in these barrels. They will be bottled one July or August, when they're ready, eventually to find their way into Quevedo's tasting room in Vila Nova de Gaia across the river from Porto, or as the 90% exported to one of 27 countries.
Quevedo 30 Year Old White Port
We found this 30 year old white port in a large barrel, tasting it straight from the cellar. It's important to know that for port, the "30 year old" monicker represents an average age. Beautiful gold in color, there's absolutely no trace of alcohol in the nose. It's very complex on the palate, tart at first, then sweet everywhere with notes of vanilla, almond, and brown sugar.
Quevedo Late Bottle Vintage (LBV) 2011
This ruby port was bottled in 2015. Your port education here is that port designated ruby ages one to two years in the barrel before aging in bottle. Different barrels will produce different aromas. This one was more playful, with cherry vanilla and fruit aromas that gave way to a tart red cherry and a little bit of cranberry.
Quevedo Colheita 1996
Where rubies are red and fruit driven, tawny ports like this are aged far longer in barrel to produce a more dried fruit character. This Colheita is a tawny through and through, throwing notes of caramel, molasses, brown sugar, and very specifically a ristretto espresso. In talking with our host, we suspect this one will migrate from barrel to bottle rather soon.
Sadly, we've been somewhat challenged locating shops in the United States where you can find Quevedo. Don't despair, though, we have some ideas:
- Washington, DC and Northern Virginia: Disappointment first, for there is no Quevedo to be found here. However, there is Quevedo to be found at Grapes and Grains in Shepherdstown, WV, a city escape we'd recommend anyway. We also understand that Quevedo is available at Weis Market in Charlestown, Penn Liquors in Martinsburg, and back in Shepherdstown at Shepherdstown Liquors.
- New York: Our data here is spotty, but we understand that Quevedo can be found at several stores in Brooklyn. I know, this presents a needle-in-haystack type of problem, so let us know if you find them!
- Online: Order at Flickinger Wines, this link specifically... http://flickingerwines.com/advancedsearch.aspx?qry=quevedo.
- I also understand that Quevedo distribution in the United States is much better in the western states (their importer is based in Denver), but my vantage point on the east coast doesn't give me a lot of latitude to test the theory.