The power of a great schist terroir
With its blistering summers, fierce winters and vertiginous slopes,
the Douro is one of the most challenging wine-growing regions in the world.
But oh, these wines!
Reds and Ports of wondrous opulence and elegance.
The finest Port-producing Quintas are concentrated in the Cima Corgo, in the centre of the Douro valley. An upland wine-growing area par excellence, its central location in the valley provides a relatively balanced climate. Although the summers are as torrid as elsewhere in the valley, there is at least the compensation of an adequate level of rainfall for grape growing. Some 3 kilometres beyond Pinhao, at a bend in the road, the Quinta da Côrte reveals its terraces set on the mountainside, with their distinctive lime-washed steps cut into the schist. The schist is everywhere, and that is what gives the local wines their minerality and their delicacy. Its great foliated sheets conceal precious pockets of moisture where the vine roots can find sustenance. From such meagre resources these vines can yield one of the finest wines in the world. In the heart of this exceptional environment, classed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Quinta da Côrte covers 24 hectares; its plots, mainly planted in terraces and patamares, contain a fine diversity of old vines. They are mainly on northerly or north-easterly exposures to provide protection from the fierce sunlight, and have been subject to extremely careful working over the past 3 years.