• antoniojulioalvesm

Quinta de Tourais - Douro, Portugal

Updated: Mar 17

We knew Liliana when she lived in Lisbon, but lost touch over time.

During our second tour to the Douro, someone had referred us to Tourais.

What a surprise when Liliana answered the phone when we called to book the appointment for the group.

The rest, as they say, was “history,” after meeting Fernando and tasting through the wines.

We go visit during the off season just to check in – phenomenal people in a stunning natural environment. There are a lot of big wine companies in the Douro. The fact that Liliana and Fernando only produce around 15,000 bottles at Tourais is something you don’t see that often.

It’s not a vanity project, it’s their life and livelihood. We are excited to be a part of it

Fernando and Liliana who continue a long line of winemakers that go back to the 12th century

Q | Where did you and your husband meet?

A | Liliana | We met at a wine-bar in Lisbon in 2015. My grandfather was a small wine producer in Dão DOC (protected designation of origin) and winemaking was something I always took an interest - I remember harvesting or stomping grapes as a child- so it is curious (and logic, may I say!) that we met at a wine-bar while Fernando was taking care of his family wine business at Quinta de Tourais.

Q | How did winemaking start for you?

A | Fernando | As Liliana said, I have been at Quinta de Tourais for many years now. I was born here. My grandfather bought the estate in the 1940´s from a renown port wine producer (Adriano Pinto). My father continued what was already happening, for generations. Initially I was not that much focused on wine. I spent some time in Oporto, then Coimbra, but decided, afterwards, to take a winemaking degree in Vila Real and it was only then, that things really started . The first wine release was done in 1999 and it is what I have been doing since!

Q | What responsibility comes from winemaking in the world's first wine region to have a formal demarcation (1756) which also happens to be a UNESCO world heritage site?

A | Fernando | Responsibility is huge! Not only because it is a UNESCO heritage site (which implies a strong sense of identity) but also, historically speaking, Quinta de Tourais is first mentioned in 12th century documents as part of a donation by the first king of Portugal to one religious order, the Cistercian Monks. That means we are part of the original bulk from which wine history in the Douro came.

Q | What makes you passionate about winemaking?

A | Fernando | The challenge the Douro offers as a wine producing region. Douro is a winemaker´s paradise due to the immense grape varieties that exist here, how they grow in slopes and the challenges this feature presents regarding different altitudes and light conditions, circumstances that allow you to be fascinated, then to discover how things can work and finally, to embrace production. LILIANA | I would also add that sharing the generosity that grows from this land (that takes so much effort to work) and from wine, is also very rewarding and a reason to feel even more passionate about winemaking.

Q | What makes your terroir unique?

A | Fernando | Let me start to say that Quinta de Tourais terroir is the worst place to produce wine (laughs)! But that is what makes it so unique! Basically, our estate and our vineyards stand at no more than 120 meters high from sea level, which is a relatively low height as a Douro standard. That contrasts even more sharply because everyone is now focused on having vineyards planted as above to sea level as possible, in order to allow more intense and fresh notes. Anyway, the fact that we stand so low does not prevent our wine from having the freshness and intensity that others seek higher. That is what I find so peculiar about the Quinta de Tourais terroir!

Grape-stomping is still one of the traditions carried by Quinta de Tourais

Q | Can you talk about your field blend? How many grape varieties do you work with?

A | Fernando | Actually, we do not know how many grape varieties we have! We work so many it is difficult to establish a record of what we can find at our estate. But that was the winemaking tradition in the Douro for centuries! Wine was made from any sort of grapes people could get their hands on… It is from that tradition that our field blend comes from! That the grapes are still stomped with feet on old stone vats with more than two hundred years, also honors that same winemaking tradition. But we also focus on common Douro grape varieties such as Touriga Nacional or Touriga Franca and experiment with others, as Tinto Cão, Touriga Fêmea or Brasileira, Jaen or Baga, varieties we do not find here so often.

Q | What is your approach regarding sustainability? Is climate change having any impact?

A | Fernando | Yes. Impacts are visible. Nowadays, our havests are scheduled sooner than they used to, and in one of the most recent ones, the maturation happened so quickly that in one week grapes went from unfit for harvesting to almost being overly ripe. That makes the wine process challenging. As for sustainability, we have removed chemical fertilizers and herbicides, so to preserve the original land conditions. The fact that we are a small wine production helps sustaining that approach.

Q | What is the most difficult thing about the wine business?

A | Liliana | Being a very small wine producer! Much of our sales depende on word of mouth!

Q | What wine do you drink at home?

A | F & L | The wine we make (laughs)! And “Lollipop” red 2018 is a must!

Q | With what food would you recommend your wines to be drunk with?

A | Liliana | Our kitchen is our wine and food laboratory! It dates back to the 17th century (as the rest of the house) and its history inspires us to experiment and cook dishes that might pair well with the wine blends we produce at Quinta de Tourais. It is inventive and amusing! One of those exquisite pairings came to be with a cortimenta blend we paired with marinated horse mackerel… Simply astonishing!

The Douro wine Region is classified as UNESCO World Heritage

Q | What is your favorite restaurant in the Douro wine region?

A | Liliana | Tasca da Quinta in Peso da Régua! It is a typical portuguese food restaurant where you can not find a wine menu! Wine choices are made from the ones available on a shelf and according to what your main course may be. The Chef suggests but you only drink if you agree with the fundamentals of the wine suggestion. It is an excellent way of talking about wine, food and flavours!

Q | What do you do for fun and where do you expect to go on your next vacation?

A | Liliana | We try to get as far away from winemaking as we can during vacations! We usually go to places that offer us very different surroundings and mindsets, places like India or Mozambique. It is to one of those places that we will be heading once the coronavirus allows us!



Quinta de Toura

Quinta de Tourais, Lilipop 2018, Red | Douro

Quinta de Tourais is located in the Douro World Heritage Site, has belonged to the Coelho family for three generations. Until 1999, the grapes produced on the farm were sold in full to an exporting company for the production of Port wine. In 1999, under the responsibility of Fernando Coelho, the first wines began to be produced. Currently, there are about 37,000 vines are planted on the property.

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