“This is a small, but very efficient winery,” emphasizes Sandra. Plot by plot, the harvest is brought here for vinification, starting in the lagares.The destiny for each and every grape, surviving the sorting table, has been determined a long time ago, as every wine is based on specific vineyard plots, the same each year. The basic rule is very simple: hotter location port, cooler red Douro wine.
Sandra Tavares da Silva welcomes us outside Quinta do Passadouro’s winery. Her husband, and the winemaker of Passadouro, Jorge Serôdio Borges, is delayed.
Quinta do Passadouro was bought by the Belgian business man Dieter Bohrmann in the beginning of the 90ies. He loved Portugal and port wine, but had also a vision to produce red Douro wine at the estate. That vision has become a reality. When Dieter Bohrmann passed away three years ago, the ownership was transferred to his two daughters. Jorge Serôdio Borges is also co-owner, with responsibility of the daily management of the estate.
Around Passadouro there are 20 hectars of vineyards, whereof Sandra counts seven to the very old: “We start to say old when the vines are more than 60-70 years old and then it is always ‘field blends’, that is several different grape varieties planted together.”
The vineyard next to the winery has reached the respectable age of almost 80 years, a field blend with about 30 varieties, planted with high density, 7000 vines per hectar. This is the base for the Quinta do Passadouros Reserva.
Organic methods are used for the vineyards, but there is no certification. Sandra explains that certification not has been that important for them and should additionally imply loads of paper work, very much for a small company. The climat is dry, the vineyards well established and ‘balanced’. Only oïdium can be a problem, which is treated with sulphur when needed. Biodiversity and organic methods, that is the way we manage the vineyards, declares Sandra.
The best red wines and the ports start their lives in the lagares, the large basins made of granite, where the grapes are foot trodden and the must fermented. Even the entry level wines are foot trodden during one or two days, but are moved to stainless steel tanks when it is time for fermentation. The grapes for the white wines are destined directly to the stainless steel tanks.
French barrels are exclusively used for Passadouro’s wines. A larger share new ones, up to 50%, for the premium wines Reserva and Touriga Nacional. Those two get about 16-20 months in barrel, depending on vintage.
Quinta do Passadouro’s red entry level wine, Passa, was not tasted at the visit. Instead we enjoyed five other Passadouro-wines during the garden lunch with Sandra and Jorge: one white, three red and two ports. And we can make the confession at once; the wines of Passadouro were completely to our taste.
Passadouro Branco 2013.
A blend of Viosinho, Rabigato andd Códega do Larinho grown on schist and granite soils, at an altitude of 500-600 meters around the village Murça, 50 km northeast of Passadouro. Fermented and raised on stainless steel tank.
Very light yellow. Medium intensity aromas with minerality and pears. Relatively light bodied, dry with fresh acidity. On the palate passion fruit, apricot and minerality resembling of blackboard chalk. Refreshing.
Passadouro Tinto 2011.
40% Touriga Nacional, 25% Touriga Franca, 25% Tinta Roriz and 10% ‘field blend’. 18 months in mostly used French barrels. (Vintage 2010 was 2013 ranked number 37 on Wine Spectator’s top 100-list, where quality, price, quantity and imported quantity to the US are considered as criteria.)
I ask Jorge if the blend is the same every year. The answer is that the wine always is based on those three grape varieties, but the share of each can change a bit depending on grape quality. However, the mental picture of the wine he is aiming for, is always cristal clear before the blending procedure is started.
Purple. Pronounced, developed nose dominated by dark fruit, oak and a bit spicyness. Medium bodied with fresh acidity and fine marked tannins. Beautiful fruitiness of dark berries and plums. Well integrated oak. Spicy, peppery. Very good, lovely length. Tight, elegant, beautifully structured. Very good indeed! Would not say no to a case of these.
Passadouro Touriga Nacional 2011.
100% Touriga Nacional, awarded gold medal at the International Wine Challenge this year. 50-70 year old vines, 18 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. Keep for a long time is the advice from Jorge, at least five years.
Purple, high intensity. Big, young, nose of dark fruit, blackberry, plums, together with a light floral touch. Full bodied, with fresh acidity and marked fine tannins and very good length. Powerful, concentrated.
Passadouro Reserve 2011.
Field blend of more than 20 different varieties from more than 70 year old vines. 1,5 year on French oak, 70% new barrels. Very good aging potential.
Purple, high intensity. On the nose medium intensity, developed aromas with complexity. Dark fruit, plums, blackberries, delicate notes of oak and some floral nuances. Full bodied, fresh acidity and soft, but emphasized tannins. Very good length. Focused, dense, fresh, very concentrated and complex. Excellent, gorgeous!
Then, port. First a Ruby and finally a Vintage.
Passadouro Porto Ruby Reserva.
Field blend from old vines. A blend of about four vintages, matured on average five years in large oak vats. The oldest wine is ten years old, the youngest three years.
Made to be easy to drink. Jorge emphasizes the importance of tempererature, serve at 12 to maximum 14 degrees.
Deep red. Fruity with floral notes. Medium bodied, fresch acidity and medium sweetness. Lovely touch of chocolate in the aftertaste. Yes, really fresch and easy to drink, despite the 19,5%.
Quinta do Passadouro Vintage 2011.
Another gold medal from IWC 2014. Field blend, old vines. Everything was perfect this super vintage 2011. Only 4000 bottles made. Today very Young, but at the same time seductively accessible .
“Perfect to drink today, but in 20 years the complexity and elegance will have developed perfectly,” says Jorge. “So why drink now, when it will be so much better? It is made to for keeping more than 50 years. Unfortunately, this wine will survive me.”
High intensity, tremendously concentrated with dark fruit, fresh acidity, balanced tannins, delicous dimmed sweetness and gourgeous body. Excellent length, fruity, dark berries and chocalate nuances. Young, focussed and seductive.
We enjoy the last drops of vintage and discuss when the best occasion should be to drink such a marvelous wine. Personally, I conclude that the best time is exactly this very moment. A warm and sunny afternoon in May, in the garden of Quinta do Passadouro, in the company of Jorge, the winemaker himself.
We visited Quinta do Passadouro in May 2014.