Food in the Douro Part 2

March 30, 2011

Last Spring I wrote about 2 local restaurants, Douro DOC and Cacho d’Oiro, and a foodie’s passion for bolas. I have a couple of additions to add for when you come to visit us!

In Regua, next to the train station, is Castas e Pratos, located in what previously was the station’s warehouse or armazem.  Rustic turned modern here, and with great panache: open ceiling with wooden beams and exposed heating/AC ducts, glass floor to peer down at  the restaurant’s 1st floor beneath your feet, warm and organic wall colors and built-in wood cabinets showing off  a remarkable display of Douro red and white wine and, of course, port.  To note: wi-fi in the bar area, where wines by the glass and appetizers are served at a community-style high table with bar stools around, acting as a catalyst to start conversations with those next to you. OH, and THE FOOD! Classic and modern, never forgetting the Douro flavors.  On a recent winter visit my sister and I thoroughly enjoyed pata-negra prosciutto wrapped grilled asparagus drizzled with warm local honey; slow cooked wine-imbibed baby goat, cabrito, falling off the bone on top of a deep-flavored fava bean ragout; and a port wine semi freddo with bittersweet chocolate ice cream. The impressive wine list, by the glass or bottle, will keep me coming back and the service speaks for itself.

http//: www.castasepratos.com

Just across the street from destination restaurant Douro DOC, is the more simple but all the same very valid AzDouro, 5 minutes from our quinta in Folgosa.   As a family we have enjoyed meals here after early evening waterskiing on the Douro, finishing after the sun goes down and not in the mood to cook at home.  All the more reason to savor the beauty of the Douro in the summer, with the cooling evening breeze and the glistening river at dusk.   My favorite dish remains salt cod or bacalhau with potatoes topped by a béchamel sauce, a melt-in-your mouth pleasure.  Roasted bacalhau with crunchy corn-bread broa crumbs and wild boar with chestnuts are 2 other worthy dishes to try.  Light dishes area also served, all to be enjoyed with a fantastic view of the Douro!

http//: www.hotelfolgosadouro.com

Delicious Tawny

Thanks for your reading and enjoy a glass of Quinta do Tedo!

Travel tips – the Douro Valley

February 28, 2011

 

The region awaits your visit

Now this is very subjective, as I have my tastes and you have yours.  With that said, I do believe that I can share with you my very pleasurable experiences (outside of the realm of wine and food), especially for one passionate about the out of doors, culture and history and, ultimately, discovering. If I had 4 days to visit the Douro Valley here are some places that would be part of my itinerary…..

 

Museu do Douro – located 15 minutes away in Regua, the commercial hub of the Douro Valley, this museums does a great job in educating the visitor about the Douro and port crafting, along with having excellent exhibits of individual artists.  Not to miss are the video of the seasons in the vineyard and the gift shop, that in addition to offering a vast selection of Douro port, wine and olive oil, has an extensive selection of made-in-Portugal products, books and posters that are uniquely Portuguese in packaging and in content. http://www.museudodouro.pt

 

Visiting the Foz Côa Archaeological Parka good 2- hour drive from the quinta, via picturesque and windy roads going towards Spain, Foz Côa is a UNESCO world heritage site and the river Coa valley holds 30 paleolithic rock art sites dating to 25000 years ago.  Book in advance for a guided tour and travel back in time.  Amazing to think that these outdoor rock gravings remain so unspoiled, considering the harsh elements of nature.

http://www.cm-fozcoa.pt/turismo/Paginas/MuseudoCôa.aspx

 

Lamego – to the south of Regua, this ancient episcopal (!) city, with remarkable Baroque architecture, is charming with its many public gardens,  and ease to walk around and to visit, all catered to the human dimension. A highlight is to climb the 600 granite steps leading to the pilgrimage church of Nossa Sehora dos Remédios, set in a forested park, stopping at various levels to take it all in!

http://www.travel-in-portugal.com/Lamego/

 

Palacio do Mateus – to the north of the quinta close to Vila Real, stands 18th c Mateus (home to the rosé wine exported throughout the world), considered a sublime example of Baroque architecture.  Enjoy the tour of the palace, and be reminded of Portugal’s world dominance centuries ago with furnishings, documents, ceramics, maps and overall grandeur.  Not to miss is the gardens, with the minutely sculptured hedges, perennial beds, shallow granite pools and the remarkable 12 m high x 10 m wide x 35 m long cypress tree tunnel, that will inspire you to walk through numerous times. Perhaps you will be lucky and be there when it is being pruned, a true feat, or when an evening summer concert is taking place and Mateus’ ambiance becomes truly seductive.

http://www.casademateus.com/home.html

We hope to see you soon....

This is a start for what the visitor can enjoy while staying at our quinta or in the area, combined with the dolce vita of fare niente that makes any holiday so special.  The region is attractive because it is less known and less contrived, and as Frank Bruni in a New York Times travel article, so perfectly puts it, in the Douro region “you can discover this country on your own (and) fashion it for yourself”.

 

Olive Harvest 2010

January 28, 2011

Early 7 AM start

We tried something different this year.  Given that our olives, as our grapes, are organically grown, we do not use any chemical fertilizers at the quinta.  This year we pressed the olives at a mill that accepts only organically-grown olives.  Why? Because, at the azenha (olive mill) water is used to clean the olives before pressing, and if our olives are rinsed in the same water as olives that have not been grown organically, the chemical residue from non-organic olives, undermines making an organic olive oil.

Long sticks gently hit trees and olives fall to ground

2010 was an excellent olive harvest, with abundant and healthy fruit.   We picked the olives earlier (we have 6 hectares of olive trees with average age 50 to 60 years, main varieties to include cordovil, verdial and moleirinha), starting mid-Nov instead of around 10 December, in an effort to add a slight piquantness to the oil, that results from an earlier harvesting time.  Not to copy the Tuscans, known for harvesting olives mid-Oct, to strive to obtain a picquant flavor with a certain bite!  While our olive oil is known for a rounder and softer quality, a style preferred by the Portuguese and that we love, we are always looking for ways excel, and adding a little spiciness, may result in something also delicious.

Preparing big nets to collect olives

Let us know what you think when you try our 2010 olive oil, we love to know what our customers think and we really do appreciate your business.

Late autumn color

FYI: the quinta restoration is 60% finished, 4 agroturismo rooms will be ready soon, hopefully by Easter.

Restoration coming along

FYI: we currently have a flock of sheep staying at the quinta in a paddy at night and grazing all day long at the quinta.  Two-fold in scope: they are hungry critters and we need to keep growth in check in the vineyard and around the olives.  Great solution: man and animals live happily together!

 

 

End of Year 2010

December 30, 2010

Dear all Quinta do Tedo friends,

I am, very unfortunately, without camera and so have no photos to share with you, as I had intended to for my December blog’s topic.  So, instead, I wish you all a most happy, healthy and prosperous 2011, with many occasions to be with loved ones and to toast  with a glass (or glasses!) of Quinta do Tedo!

I thank you all for your support over the years, as we work to make Quinta do Tedo an ever-improving and dynamic winery and estate.  We feel very fortunate to have accomplished thus far our goals: to make unfailing quality products, be it port, wine and olive oil; to maintain our “working farm” status and respect the environment by being sustainable since years and by implementing organic viticulture since July 2010; and to receive visitors and customers with hospitality, warmth and unending care.

Our bird just keeps on singing……

Kay Steffey Bouchard

Port, wine, wood and Vincent

November 30, 2010

 

Vincent and his passion

“Forests and vineyards were my cradle, oak and wine are my livelihood and passion.”

Barrels and more barrels....

For those who have ordered our port, wine and olive oil direct from the winery, you may have noticed the above quote on our order form.  For those who haven’t noticed, let me introduce you to Vincent’s unfaltering devotion to wood; namely in the form of barrels for aging wine, a product for which he consults internationally since the late 1970s.

The bird is singing

Vincent’s involvement in wood started as a boy, accompanying his grandfather to evaluate trees for harvest in the family-owned forests of the French Vosges, Allier and Nevers. He also spent a lot of time with his father, then co-director at reputable Bouchard P ère et Fils winery in the 1960s, inspecting the extensive vineyard parcels in Burgundy (his mother tells me that he was such wiggly boy that it was also a way to get him out of the house!). Growing up many afternoons were spent in the cellars at Bouchard Père et Fils, earning extra money to help bottle and label and also to play hide-and-go-seek in such a perfect place: a dark and humid cellar with a labrynth of bottle-stacked rows going in all directions……a fantasy for any child.

 

These experiences served as a catalyst for Vincent’s later passion for wine and wood. Today Vincent consults and sells French, Hungarian and American oak barrels internationally.  That said, we have a fantastic source for our barrels, pipas, casks and tanks at Quinta do Tedo, both new and used, for experimental purposes and for aging our dynamite port and table wine.

The passion continues

Here is Vincent’s philosophy about wood, wine and port: “Wine and wood should be in harmony.  Wood should not dominate the delicate grape aroma or terroir from the grapes.   Wood does have different subtle aromas and brings a better structure and long finish to the wine, especially for wine that will age,  to give more complexity to the wine, such as texture and a long finish.  For port the wood is strictly used to give the opportunity to the port to breathe and concentrate during the aging process and not to give any aroma to the port.”

Thank you for your support and enjoy a glass of Quinta do Tedo!

 

 

Our Douro DOC Red Wines

October 28, 2010

Our Douro DOC red wines

Reading what the international press has to say about our Douro DOC red wines, certain descriptors become repetitive: dense fruit, chocolate, black currant, dried orange peel, round, velvety, soft, vanilla, not too much oak…… Let me explain how the grape varieties and winemaking techniques are the backbone to these descriptors.

Thick skinned grapes chock full of fruit

Our Douro DOC red wines, to include Douro DOC, Douro DOC Reserva and Douro DOC Grande Reserva Savedra, are made from 3 main grape varieties, traditionally found in the Douro.  Thick skinned and full of deep and jam-like dense fruit, each variety imparts different aromas and flavors to the wine:

Touriga Nacional for orange flower and dried orange peel

Tinta Franca for red fruit to include black currant (cassis) and blackberry

Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo) for chocolate, black pepper and red fruit to include cherry and raspberry

As for our winemaking techniques: we still practice traditional foot treading FOR OUR WINES in open epoxy-lined cement vats called lagars, allowing for a soft working together of the juice, skin and pits.  FOOT ACTION RULES!  Afterwards fermentation takes place in rotating steel tanks and post-fermentation maceration lasts for about 14 days.

Foot action rules

According to Vincent, the wine’s roundness and good acidity are influenced by where we are located, at the intersection of rivers Tedo and Douro.   The cooling westerly or southerly night breeze helps to slowdown grape ripening, even with the very hot days that we have in the Douro!  We pick the grapes when they are mature and not overripe, and have good acidity, key to making wines that are known for their lovely fruit.

Velvety as a descriptor  is the opposite of astringent and we do our best to avoid making harsh wines.  We destem before maceration (stems can lend an unpleasant astringency to the wine).   We try to work as much as possible through gravity flow to bring the finished wine to the barrels, avoid pumping that tends to crush the astringent grape pits.  To avoid potential astringency coming from barrel use, we fill the barrels directly for malolactic fermentation and respect the time the wine needs to remain in the barrel to integrate the tannins of the wine and the wood.

Vincent and his barrels

Also important is a good cooper selection for the barrels for each wine: the wood type, toasting level and time in the barrels.  As you may know, Vincent consults internationally about wine aging in barrels, and he uses French oak from coopers Damy, Billon and Cadus, Hungarian oak from European Coopers and a small amount of American oak barrels crafted by a French cooper to give to the wine a touch of vanilla.  A firm believer that wine should have not too much oak, Vincent’s philosophy about wine and oak will be discussed in November’s blog.

Vincent, with Burgundian roots, is a big believer in allowing the wine to show the maximum of fruit, Jorge is a big believer in terroir, and together the job is very decently done with great results.

The bird keeps singing

“A vindima 2010” and foot treading reigns

September 29, 2010

Vive foot treading!

We are at it again, the annual process of foot treading and, once again, why?  For even and complete crushing of grape skin, flesh and juice, enabling maximum extraction of color and aromatic components, without breaking the grape pips that would release a green bitterness into the port in the making. We swear by it.  When we show our visitors the epoxy-lined open cement tanks called lagars in our winery and talk about foot treading, the initial reaction is usually a smile AND a raised brow, the prior for what seems to be a beautiful folkloric tradition, and the later for the slight disdain of potentially dirty feet in contact with the must (they are clean, I promise).  The best port is still made this way!  4 hours a day for approximately 4 days is the foot treading time until the fermentation is arrested with brandy and then the freshly made lagar of port is sent to individual tanks in the cellar by gravity flow.  For several months the port rests and sediment gathers at the bottom of the tank. Then the young port is ready to taste to evaluate the potential of each tank: Vintage, LBV, Ruby or Tawny or ?

Here are harvest palette colors –  pink, red, purple and all shades in between:

Healthy and plump clusters

Freshly pressed juice

Juice current

Fermenting must

Winemaker Jorge Alves tells us that 2010 is the best year since 2007, yet remains too early to know if of Vintage quality.  2010 was marked by 47% more rainfall and a 1-week  July heat wave 42C/108F, that unfortunately damaged some of the young vines.  Harvest started on 3 September and the last grapes came in on 26 September, many a long day of work!  Fingers crossed…

Foot treading is a high point of the harvest, the culmination of a year’s work in the vineyards.  A synchronized effort, the head foot treader calls out  “esquerdo, direito, esquerdo, direito” (left, right…) to keep all in line. Pauses take place, foot treaders move about freely in the lagar, perhaps a sip of port, then back to work.  Laughs, games and good music accompany, and all are hopeful for an excellent quality of port. If you have never tried foot treading, come to Quinta do Tedo, and join us. Last but not least, the port harvest means purple feet and stained legs!

Vincent has been in the lagar

As obras! Work in progress!

August 30, 2010

I have mentioned over the last year our restoration plans for the quinta that started this summer.  In a somewhat humorous way, I arrived at the quinta in July ready to take photos from across the Douro of our property for our new website’s home page, and low and behold!, impossible to do because the ROOF WAS OFF!

No more roof

We have owned the quinta for 18 years, so it us truly time to restore the main building!   We will have updated public bathrooms, a new office, a new quinta kitchen for our workers and for possible groups, a couple of rooms for accommodation, and a larger living space for us when we come, so we can invite guests without thinking twice (if you know what I mean).   All around we will have an even more charming Quinta do Tedo!  Estimated time of completion: end of 2010.

Here are some photos to show the progress:

Entrance to public bathrooms

Digging away

Please come into our kitchen, a cup of coffee or tea, or better yet, a glass of port?

So was spent our 20th wedding anniversary

Ready for action

Roof is almost back on, "as obras" continue....

Life this summer at Quinta do Tedo was a gritty, dusty, and grimy time, but the future is promising.  Look forward to your next (or first) visit to our quinta to show you the results!  Next blog I will talk about harvest 2010 and hopefully have some great lagar foot treading photos, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for anyone….

The bird is singing!

July 21, 2010

The bird keeps singing

This month’s blog is more an announcement than anything else for 2 reasons:

as of today, July 21, 2010 the Quinta do Tedo estate officially practices “bioviticulture”, aka organic viticulture in the US.  In addition, coincidentally today as well, our new website www.quintadotedo.com is up and running, or I should say “our bird is flying”?!   I wish that you could all be here to open up a fantastic bottle of Quinta do Tedo Vintage Porto or Douro DOC table wine to celebrate with us!

Open door to bioviticulture

By becoming officially “bio”, a 4-year conversion process from sustainable viticulture (in practice at Quinta do Tedo since 1997), you as our customer have the certified guaranty that NO herbicides, NO insecticides and NO synthetic fertilizers are used in our vineyards.  We have been practicing this form of viticulture since 1997 and, following the demand from our importers and buyers, we have now completed the administrative conversion process as of today.  Being a single quinta, all of our grapes and olives are estate grown, so the Porto, Douro DOC and olive oil from Quinta do Tedo from now will be officially certified as “bio” starting this harvest 2010.  About 10 of the 300+ producers of the Douro have made the conversion, and we proudly are one!  How will this affect the porto, wine and olive oil from this harvest?  Follow next month’s blog…..

Re our “new” www.quintadotedo.com :  the quinta’s bird oenanthe leucurus continues to sing a song with more notes than ever!  Quinta do Tedo, now a “bio” estate of 24 hectares/52 acres, located in a protected ecological reserve, bordered to the north by the Douro and to the south by the Tedo, in the heart of an Unesco World Heritage site is all the better a place for making excellent porto, wine and olive oil and….for our bird’s future.  Click on the website and see the bird fly!

Restoration underway

Lastly, I just wanted to show you the quinta’s current restoration, the roof is off since July! The quinta will become an even more lovely experience for our visitors, with new bathrooms, several rooms for accommodation, a kitchen for catered events and other modern touches.

How about the “pipa”?

June 26, 2010

Last month I ended my blog with a note that I would talk about the Portuguese barrel form called the “pipa” and why it has such a curious form for me, at least.

Our bird is singing

As I mentioned also in the May blog that Vincent has consulted for barrels for 30 years and we have been married 20 years this August, so you can imagine that we have seen many different sizes and shapes of barrels, from 114L for different dessert wines, 225/228L for the majority of wineries that we work with, to 300L, 350L, 500L and then onto the enormous upright tanks to 7000L.  The pipa is 550L and why this somewhat unusual size and shape, that of an elongated barrel?  Well, back when the Douro was a torrent flowing freely down to the Atlantic, this was the shape that fitted most snugly in the bottom of the “barco rabelo”, the traditional boat that was the main form of transportation in the 1800’s from the Douro Valley to Oporto, where were the famous Porto lodges  for aging the product in Vila Nova da Gaia.  Today the Douro has been tamed, with a series of dams, one feeding into the other, and the river has widened and flows slowly as compared to how it used to rage down in the rainy season before the dams were built in the last century.  So the pipa, is not used today for transportation reasons, as we now depend on trucks for most transportation and many Douro producers now age their products at the winery or closer by.  As you know our aging cellars are at our quinta, given that we are classified as a Single Quinta, all is done on site.

This is the 12th month that I have written a blog and I have enjoyed sharing bits of information with you  and look forward to  many more blogs.

By the way, we have started restoration!