Our core work force at Quinta do Tedo

August 31, 2014

Last month I wrote about rebuilding parts of our 4 km/2.5 miles of dry stone walls that were originally built in the 1800s, with photos of our vineyard workers in action.  Thanks to this team our terraced vineyards stand solid.   These exemplary multi-taskers are the quinta’s backbone and an integral part of our success.  As we are minimally mechanized, because of the sheer steepness of our terraced vineyards, we depend on this workforce – to work the vineyard in the winter months with our horse Tedo and  to ensure throughout the year the best viticultural conditions possible to have an excellent grape quality at harvest and, among other duties, to build and rebuild dry stone walls.  In order to work so hard it is essential that they are provided decent working conditions.

Heading off for break for 9:30 meal.

Heading off for 9:30 meal.

A well-deserved break.

A well-deserved break.

Arriving in the summer at 6 :30 as the sky lightens and the temperature is cool,  they work until 9 :30, come in for a light meal to refuel, head back to the vineyards and return at 1 PM for a hot lunch.  A break follows and then back to the vineyard, finishing around 4 PM.  Long, hot hours under the sun with sweat and fine schist dust; we are indebted to them.

Green bean and potato soup and fried fish…..mmmmm….

Green bean and potato soup and fried fish…mmmmm…

Delicious!

…delicious!

Proud to be a « traditional quinta » we serve hot meals to our workers, thanks to our cook Adelaide’s delicious food.  The morning « snack » includes a delicious soup (Adelaide is a pro at this) and a protein and carbohydrate – grilled sardines,  big slabs of bacon or codfish cakes aka « bolinhos de bacalhau » with potatoes and watered-down wine.  At 1 PM a more substantial meal is prepared, with soup again, meat or fish, potatoes, rice or beans, and homegrown vegetables, all prepared in a myriad of ways.  Adelaide cooks not only for the vineyard workers but also for our winemaking and tasting room/agroturismo teams, and V and me.  One day I will put up a plack outside her kitchen « Adelaide’s Place » – but there are only 24 hours in a day, as I remind myself.

Conviviality is ever so important for all work.

Conviviality and sharing a meal is ever so important for all work.

Harvest starts next month and our vineyard workers swell in number from 6 to around 25, women with more hand dexterity for cutting our delicious and ripe grapes and men to carry the grape-filled baskets down the steep terraces  for loading in our trucks.  The sooner the grapes come in to press the better and our quinta becomes a beehive of activity, to be reported on next month.

“Weather cycle normal” = 3 months of winter and 9 months of inferno!

July 29, 2014
Parcel Frente da Quinta with thriving Touriga Nacional,   Touriga Franca, Sousão vines.

Parcel Frente da Quinta with thriving 2-year-old Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Sousão vines.

According to winemaker Jorge “weather cycle normal” so far for 2014, as I inquired about the 3 July rainfall of a whopping 4.3 cm/1.75 in when the average for July is 1.2 cm/½ in for the whole month.  Could this support the climatic changes in the Douro region, as in the rest of the world?  Perhaps the extreme rain on this one day, but so far precipitation and temperature are within 30-year average parameters.

Hard work to repair walls.

Hard work to repair walls.

Filling in with smaller rocks for strengthening walls.

Filling in with smaller rocks to strengthen walls.

Our walls average 1 m deep x 2 m high.

Our walls average 1.5 m to 2.5 m high x 1 m deep/5 – 8 ft x 3 ft.

All the same, there are walls to repair; impossible to hold the rain’s hammering intensity on 1 day.  Portuguese tradition says “the more you lose walls the more wine you will make”, at least that is comforting.  Every year there are walls to repair, we have 4 km/2.4 miles total of traditional dry walls on our property of 14 hectares/34 acres, and this is a good time to repair.  The soil is dry and light and consequently easier to work.  The jugs of fresh diluted wine,  nestled in the soil, are always helpful to the workers.

2012 - before planting.

2012 – before planting.

2014 = 2 years after planting.

2014 – 2 years after planting.

The 3.22 hectares/8 acres of replanted vineyards are thriving after the 2012 planting.  Here are photos of  2012 and 2014.  As much as we wanted to maintain the old vines, they were just not producing – due to age and the more rock vs less soil in thèse terraced vineyards.

Tinta Franca - photo taken 20 July

Tinta Franca – photo taken 20 July.

Too early to predict 2014’s quality, the grapes are turning color and are healthy and following the normal ripening phase.  Vincent tells me that according to vigneron tradition “the hidden quality of the coming harvest is always better than the previous one” – is that a Burgundian saying?  Towards the end of August, when we sample on a daily basis for sugar content, is when we can confidently predict the quality of the approaching harvest.

All roads lead to Quinta do Tedo!

All roads lead to Quinta do Tedo!

This marks the first year that I can spend more time at the quinta, instead of a month here and there. I am now an “empty nester”, as my 3 children are off to their post-highschool studies. The Quinta, the Douro region and Portugal continue to captivate me.  Seems to captivate others as well, as evidenced by the visitors at the quinta, enjoying the dramatic beauty and traditions of the Douro and, of course, the quality port, Douro Doc wine and olive oil that Quinta do Tedo produces.

Summertime with Quinta do Tedo Porto Rosé

June 29, 2014

Summer is here and I would like to share 1 cocktail and 1 apéritif with you: refreshing, eye catching and thirst quenching and with our Porto Rosé!

The cocktail Vincent “discovered” while dining at Roka Akor http://www.rokaakor.com/san-francisco/ - a Quinta do Tedo account in San Francisco.  Porto and sake – why not?  By the way, the restaurant was a gem of a find for Vincent in the Bay area and the dishes were presented with honorable aesthetics.

Porto Rose' Cocktail

“Decoding Annie Parker” from Roka Akor in San Francisco

1.5 oz/ 44 ml Eiko Fiji Dry Sake

1.5 oz/44 ml Quinta do Tedo Rosé  Porto

.25 oz/7.5 ml fresh squeezed lemon juice

Mash 2 raspberries with a whole strawberry and simple syrup.

Add Sake and  Quinta do Tedo Porto Rosé

Hand shake with ice cubes and double strain.

Serve in a glass, such as a Riedel Cognac glass.

Bamboo pick with 2 raspberries as garnish.

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This apéritif Vincent devised some time ago.  It is imperative that the Porto Rosé’s temperature is that of a very cold champagne. The addition of  frozen red fruit acts like an ice cube (clever husband Vincent!).

Vincent’s Quinta do Tedo’s Porto Rosé Apéritif

Fill 1/2 full Quinta do Tedo Porto Rosé  in a frozen sugar-rimmed champagne flute.

Add 2 or 3 frozen red fruits (raspberry, strawberry, currant and/or blueberry) in the bottom of the glass to act like an ice cube.

Garnish with a torn piece of a mint leaf, the size of a finger nail.

Discover our cocktails and let us know what you think….

Nos idées sur l’évolution dans la commercialisation du Porto

May 30, 2014

La très complète e-newsletter du Porto et des vins du Douro et Madère For the Love of Port (pour l’amour du Porto) http://www.fortheloveofport.com fait un excellent travail pour la promotion et l’enseignement du vin de Porto et de la vallée du Douro. Au début de cette année, la publication posait la question quant au commerce du porto :

« Nous avons observé beaucoup de changements depuis le passage du millénaire, que prévoyez-vous comme évolution pour la prochaine décade et demie dans la commercialisation du Porto ? »

La réponse des autorités du Porto a été très forte et Vincent a été le porte-parole des réponses émises par la Quinta do Tedo, que je voudrais vous faire partager. Bien que sa réponse ait pris en compte le marché français, elle démontre nos ressentis sur la tendance générale du commerce du Porto et du tourisme dans la vallée du Douro.

« Le premier point est que le Porto, avec une consommation de 40 à 50% dans les pays francophones, perd des parts de marché. D’autres vins doux internationaux à des prix compétitifs ont été introduits et des vins rouges de meilleure qualité pénètrent les pays de l’ancien et du nouveau monde vinicole. Le fort impact des lois de plus en plus sévères sur l’alcool au volant a réduit la consommation et la crise économique a diminué le pouvoir d’achat des individus. Cependant, grâce aux efforts de promotion consentis par le Portugal, le Douro est entrain d’attirer de plus en plus de touristes prenant les vols à bas prix (low-cost) pour atterrir à Oporto, distant du Douro d’une heure et demie en voiture ; de plus les Portugais très hospitaliers sont polyglottes, le Français étant souvent la deuxième langue parlée et les prix pour se loger et se restaurer sont généralement moins chers que dans beaucoup d’autres pays européens. De plus en plus de Français viennent dans le Douro découvrir la qualité de ses vins et du Porto. Les Francophones découvrent d’autres produits que les Ruby et Tawny qu’ils consomment énormément dans leurs pays d’origine, France, Belgique et Luxembourg. Le Porto est un produit unique avec sa propre appellation et la gamme des produits est très diversifiée : Ruby, Tawny, LBV, Vintage etc. La composition du sol et le climat en font certainement un des vins qui peut vieillir plus longtemps que d’autres.

Celui qui n’aurait pas visité le Douro depuis les années 1900, verrait un changement incroyable avec une bien plus importante offre de Portos, vins, hôtels, restaurants, musées et destinations touristiques qui contribuent au développement. L’esprit du Douro est de plus en plus ouvert d’où plus d’hôtels, de restaurants, de locations de voitures, de tours œnologiques internationaux, Great Wine Capitals, etc. l’investissement dans la région et cette dimension internationale toujours en progression verront une progression qualitative du tourisme dans le Douro. Ceci servira l’image internationale du Porto et des vins du Douro, aux cépages spécifiques, comme le Touriga, le Nacional, le Tinta Roriz, le Touriga Franca ayant des caractéristiques uniques qui se suffisent à elles-mêmes, sans avoir à les couper avec du Cabernet Sauvignon et du Merlot pour les rouges, ou du Chardonnay et du Sauvignon blanc pour les blancs. Les particularités de ces cépages portugais produisent grâce à d’excellents œnologues doués de solides bases, beaucoup de produits exceptionnels. Cependant pour accroître sa reconnaissance internationale, celle d’une destination des amoureux du vin, du maintien de la part de marché des vins de desserts et de table, la collaboration des domaines, du gouvernement portugais et des autorités du tourisme n’a jamais eu un rôle aussi important.

Aerial #2 of Quinta

Au confluent des rivières Douro et Tedo, dans une région viticole d’une beauté et d’un dynamisme exceptionnels…

 

Indigenous grapes of excellent quality, at Quinta do Tedo ours are grown according to strict organic guidelines….

…des cépages indigènes d’une excellente qualité sont plantés, à Quinta do Tedo, les nôtres sont cultivés en pur respect des règles biologiques.

 

We await you to discover this unique region...

Nous vous attendons pour découvrir cette région unique…

 

…and to enjoy a glass of Quinta do Tedo.

…et savourer un verre de Quinta do Tedo, le résultat de notre passion chevillée au corps, pour produire du Porto et des vins rouges du Douro d’une exceptionnelle qualité. 

A votre santé !

 

Big Q: What do you foresee changing in the Port business over the next decade and a half?

May 29, 2014

The comprehensive Port, Douro wine and Madeira e-newsletter FOR THE LOVE OF PORT http://www.fortheloveofport.com does an excellent job in the promotion and education of Port wine and the Douro Valley.  Earlier this year the publication asked the following question to the Port trade:

« We have seen many changes since the turn of the millennium, what do you foresee changing in the Port business over the next decade and a half? »

The response from the Port trade was very strong and Vincent was the main voice in Quinta do Tedo’s response, that I would like to share with you.  Although his answer takes into consideration the French market, it does show our feelings of a general trend in the Port trade and in Douro Valley tourism.

“The first thing is that Port, with 40 – 50% quantitatively consumed in French-speaking countries, is losing market share. Other international competitively-priced sweet wines have been introduced and better red wines are crafted in the old and new wine world. The large impact of stricter laws concerning drunk driving has reduced alcohol consumption and the economic crisis has had an impact on the individual’s budget. However, due to the promotional efforts of Portugal, the Douro will attract more and more tourists due to the fact of economic/low-cost flights coming into Oporto, that the Douro is only 1 1/2 hours by car from Oporto, that the Portuguese in the tourism industry speak multiple languages and French is often the 2nd language spoken and the Portuguese are hospitable, and the prices for lodging and dining are generally less expensive than in many other European countries. There are more and more French coming to the Douro and discovering the quality of the port and wine of the Douro. The French speakers are discovering other products than the largely consumed Ruby and Tawny in their home countries of France, Belgium and Luxembourg.  Port is a unique product with its own appellation, and the product line is diversified, to include Ruby/Tawny/LBV/Vintage and etc, and due to the climate and soil composition are certainly some of the wines that can age longer than others.  Anyone visiting the Douro since the late 1900’s will see a dramatic change with the wider selection of port and wines, hotels, restaurants, museums, tourist destinations that work together to promote.  The Douro mentality is more and more open and hence more hotels, restaurants, rent-a-cars, international wine tours, Great Wine Capitals, etc: the investment in the region and this ever-growing international dimension will see an increase in quality tourism coming to the Douro. This will further the international image of Port and wines of the Douro. The wines of the Douro with their unique grapes to include Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca have unique characteristics that stand on their own, and do not need to have additions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, for the reds, or Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for the whites and the uniqueness of these Portuguese grapes produce, together with excellent winemakers with solid training, many outstanding products.  However, to keep growing in international acclaim, to continue to grow as a wine lover’s travel destination and to maintain the market share in dessert wines and table wines, collaboration with wineries, the Portuguese government and the tourism sector has never been more important.”

Aerial #2 of Quinta

Where rivers Douro and Tedo meet, in a dramatically beautiful and dynamic viticultural region…

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…indigenous grapes of excellent quality are grown, at Quinta do Tedo ours are grown according to strict organic guidelines.

We await you to discover this unique region...

We await you to discover this unique region…

…and to enjoy a glass of Quinta do Tedo.

…and to enjoy a glass of Quinta do Tedo, the result of our ongoing passion to produce port and Douro red wine of exceptional quality.

Cheers!

La tarte au citron de Petra

April 30, 2014

Le Porto Tawny de Quinta do Tedo s’accorde avec beaucoup de desserts qui comptent dans en tête de ma liste, la tarte tatin, le tiramisu, la tarte aux noix caramélisée et… cette merveilleusement délicieuse tarte au citron de Petra. Pourquoi un Tawny se marie si formidablement avec cette tarte au citron ?

Pendant la période de vieillissement de 6 à 8 ans d’un Tawny (celle de Quinta do Tedo est de 8 ans), l’agressivité des tanins du Porto s’estompe grâce à une lente micro-oxydation. Le Porto Tawny est plus doux suite à un long vieillissement en fût, alors que le Porto se concentre naturellement par évaporation de l’eau (pensez à une réduction de sauce). Des tanins «soyeux » et un Porto plus concentré en résultent, le moelleux de notre Tawny se marie magnifiquement à l’acidité du citron dans la recette suivante.

Petra Casini, une très talentueuse tailleuse de pierres précieuses et orfèvre accomplie de Florence (http://www.petracasini.com), est aussi un cordon bleu ; c’est toujours un plaisir que d’être invitée chez elle pour diner. Elle a partagé ce dessert, la première tranche en appelle une autre. Merci Petra, « nous » garderons la recette chère à notre cœur !

Ingrédients pour 6 personnes

  • 110 grs de beurre
  • 30 grs de sucre en poudre
  • 160 grs de farine
  • 1 demi-cuillère à thé de sel.

 

Faire fondre le beurre dans une poêle aux bords élevés et y verser à feu doux  le sucre en poudre, la farine et le sel jusqu’à obtenir la forme d’une boule. Laisser reposer pendant que vous beurrez une tôle à tarte de 24 cm. Pressez avec les doigts et faire adhérer la pâte sur le fond et les bords de la tôle, une sorte de « patch work ». Soyez patient, l’effort vaut le coup. Piquez la pâte avec une fourchette et cuire à 180° C (thermostat 6) pour 15 minutes.

Garniture :

  • 4 œufs
  • 350 grs de sucre en poudre
  • Une demi-cuillère à thé de levure
  • Zeste râpé de 2 citrons
  • Le jus de 5 citrons

Mixez au fouet. Versez la garniture sur la pâte précuite et cuire pour 30 minutes. Laisser refroidir à température ambiante et servez accompagné d’un verre de Tawny et appréciez…

Ne pas utiliser de robot ni de fouet électrique et soyez patient avec la pâte.

 

Petra’s Lemon Tart

April 29, 2014

Quinta do Tedo’s Fine Tawny Port complements many desserts to include, high on my list, tarte tatin, panna cotta, tiramisù, walnut caramel tart, crème brûlée and this hauntingly delicious Petra’s Lemon Tart.  Why does our Fine Tawny pair so terrifically with this lemon tart?

During our Fine Tawny’s 8 years of cask aging (according to legislation Tawny is aged for at least 6 years) the port’s astringent tannins breakdown, thanks to micro-oxidation.  The long barrel aging naturally concentrates the port, as water evaporates through the wood (like reducing a syrup).  The resulting « soft » tannins together with more concentrated natural sugar and aromas heighten our Fine Tawny’s sweetness, and pairs beautifully with the lemon tart’s mellowed acidity and richness of the dessert in the following recipe.

Petra Casini is a talented precious stone cutter and accomplished jewelry designer in Florence, Italy (www.petracasini.com).  She is also a very fine cook; always a pleasure to be invited to her house for dinner.  She has shared with me this dessert, and the first slice begs for another.  Thank you Petra, I will keep this recipe close to my heart.

For 6

110 gr butter

30 gr powdered sugar

160 gr flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a pan with high sides, and incorporate on a very low flame the powdered sugar, flour and salt until a ball forms. Let it rest while you butter a 24-cm tart pan. Press the crust mixture on the bottom and the sides, using a bit of “patch work” to mend the very rich crust.   Be patient – it is worth the effort. Pierce the crust with a fork and cook at 180°C for 15 minutes.

Filling:

4 whole eggs

350 gr powdered sugar

½ tsp baking powder

grated lemon peel from 2 lemons (preferably untreated)

5 T lemon juice

Mix the above ingredients with a whisk by hand. Put the filling in the precooked crust and cook for 30 minutes.

Don’t use a robot or electric beaters, and be patient with the crust!

Serve warm or at room temperature with a glass of chilled Tawny, and enjoy.

~Kay

Un parfait accord Pascal : notre Porto Ruby et le meilleur gâteau au chocolat

March 31, 2014

Pâques est le temps des célébrations en famille et avec des amis et je peux fièrement partager avec vous mon « irrésistible gâteau au chocolat », un gâteau dense et simplement délicieux au chocolat doux-amer qui s’accorde à merveille avec notre Porto Ruby. La recette vient de la maison Lameloise à Chagny, un restaurant 3 macarons au guide Michelin où nous avons fièrement tenu un dîner-dégustation pour Quinta do Tedo.

Pourquoi un Ruby et non pas un autre Porto ? Ce Porto frais et fruité, un assemblage de 3 récoltes et vieilli de 3. 5 à 4 années en fût (un temps court en comparaison à d’autres sortes de Porto) est moins riche en tannins et ainsi s’accorde parfaitement à un gâteau dense et savoureux. Comme le dit mon mari Vincent, imagine le Ruby comme « une liqueur » de fruit rouge – légèrement glacée, fraîche et pleine en bouche et le gâteau comme une délicieuse truffe doucement amère.

Servez le avec de fraîches baies rouges – framboises, fraises, groseilles – marinées dans un léger sirop infusé aux zestes d’orange et une bonne cuillerée de crème fouettée. Oh la la !

250 gr de chocolat amère

250 gr de beurre

200 gr de sucre

4 œufs frais

25 gr de farine

Faire fondre au bain-marie le chocolat avec le beurre.  Mettre le sucre dans la farine et ajouter au mélange chocolat/beurre. Battre les œufs et les introduire au précédent mélange ; verser le tout dans un moule et faire cuire au bain-marie à 170°C pendant 1h 15 minutes +/-.

Laisser reposer et servir avec des fruits des bois ou des fruits rouges : framboises, fraises, myrtilles, groseilles – panachés ou natures ou marinés dans un sirop aux zestes d’orange, accompagné d’une crème fouettée ou d’une crème anglaise.

~Kay

A perfect Easter pairing: our Ruby Port and the best ever chocolate cake

March 31, 2014

Easter is a time for celebration with family and friends, and I can proudly share with you my “irresistible chocolate cake”, a melt-in-your-mouth, dense and simply delicious bittersweet chocolate cake that pairs beautifully with our Ruby Port. The recipe is from Maison Lameloise, Burgundy’s 3-star Michelin restaurant in Chagny, where we have proudly held a tasting dinner for Quinta do Tedo.

Why a Ruby and not another Port? This fresh and fruity port, a blend of 3 harvests and aged for 3.5 to 4 years in wood (a short time compared to other port types), is less rich in tannins and thus pairs perfectly with an intensely-flavored and dense chocolate cake. As husband Vincent says, imagine the Ruby as  ”fortified” red fruit – slightly chilled, fresh and full in the mouth and the cake as a delicious bittersweet truffle.

Serve with fresh red berries – raspberries, strawberries, currants – tossed in a light orange-peel infused syrup and a dollop of whipped cream.  Oh la la!

Melt-in-your-mouth Chocolate Cake

For 8 px

250 g bittersweet chocolate, cut in small pieces

250 g butter

200 g sugar

4 eggs

25 g flour

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler until almost melted; remove from double boiler and let cool, it will finish melting.  Mix sugar and flour, add to chocolate/butter mixture.  Beat the eggs and add to the above mixture. Transfer to a buttered pan. Cook at 170 C/350F for 1 1/2 hours. Let cool and serve with red fruit berries, ideally a mix of strawberries, raspberries, currants – in a orange peel-infused syrup, with whipped cream or creme anglaise.

Cheers~ Kay

 

 

Awaiting Spring

February 28, 2014
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Flowering almond tree.

Seems like the Douro has experienced a very wet and cold winter, or perhaps it is the longing for the longer days and inevitably warmer and sunnier weather of Spring to come.  Looking at ADVID’s climatic report (Douro wine region’s monthly viticultural report) this year’s rainy season, from October to March, is thus far an average year, actually 1 or 2 degrees C warmer than usual and for a 30-year average this year’s rainfall is right on.  A couple of years ago I wrote in this monthly blog of the extreme drought the Douro was experiencing; this year I will not write of a lack of precipitation.  Since our vineyards are traditionally terraced, I note at this time of the year the number of walls that have fallen, always a challenge here.  Considering that we have more than 4 kilometers/2.4 miles in walls the overall damage is minimal.  Life chugs on, and in a few weeks we will have vineyard bud break, wildflowers will create a riot of color and Spring will arrive!

Tedo at work grazing

Tedo at work – it is a horse’s life!

Circus, faithful companion on my walks

Circus, faithful companion on my walks.

Oranges for mouthwatering marmelade.

Oranges for mouthwatering marmelade.

Pussywillows by the Tedo.

Pussywillows by the Tedo.

Irresistible camelias

Irresistible camelias.

Backbone to our gardens - the red geranium, blooming even in the late winter.

Backbone to our gardens – the red geranium, blooming even in late winter.

The Douro river – translated the golden river – passing in front of our Quinta do Tedo en route from Spain to the Atlantic – with impressive levels this year.

As always, cheers! ~ Kay