The Douro Valley – Burgundy Connection

February 28, 2015
King Afonso, 1st King of Portugal in the 1100s, from the Duchy of Burgundy lineage.

King Afonso, 1st King of Portugal in the 1100s, from the Duchy of Burgundy lineage.

There is a historic and present day connection between Douro Valley and Burgundy; let me recount the historic connection, according partly to Vincent and partly to legitimate sources.

It was during the Moorish invasion (back in the 1000s) when more muscle was needed to fight, that the Duchy of Burgundy, more powerful at the time than the Kingdom of France, was asked to help Spain.

Sao Pedro das Águias, once a Cistercian monastery in the what is today Douro Valley.

Sao Pedro das Águias, once a Cistercian monastery, in the what is today Douro Valley.

Thanks to Spain’s and the Duchy of Burgundy’s bravura, the Moors were defeated and indebted King Alfonso of Spain strategically gave his daughter, Teresa, in marriage to Henry, the younger son of Henry of Burgundy, (native of Dijon!).  As part of her dowry was included the northwest of Spain that became part of Portugal.  Their son, Afonso I, became the first King of Portugal. The House of Burgundy, or Afonsine Dynasty, ruled the Kingdom of Portugal from 1143-1383, and it was during this time that the region’s vineyards, to include what is today Douro Valley, were further developed by Cistercian monks, most probably Burgundian!

Douro View from Maramalal - Version 3

Douro Valley, UNESCO World Heritage, Quinta do Tedo in the foreground.

The Douro Valley – Burgundy connection surfaces again in this century, with regards to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Douro Valley received UNESCO status in 2001, based on the criteria of human influence on its development over the last 2000 years of winemaking that have shaped it into a terraced, vine-covered, wine-producing destination.  Burgundy awaits UNESCO World Heritage status to be decided in June 2015, with criteria majorly based on the “climats”, or individual vineyard parcels, that differentiate Burgundy from other viticultural regions in the world.  It is the “terroir” that Burgundy is famous for; the differences from one row to the next can be so acute. The area lies roughly between Dijon and Beaune.

In Burgundy the history of climats dates back to the monks at the Cluny and Citeaux Abbeys in the 1000s, who began the culture of vineyard delineation. This is roughly the same time that the Cistercian monks brought their knowledge of the vine to what become Portugal.  Small world, even back then.

Fingers crossed and love live the Douro Valley – Burgundy connection.

(Français) Principaux Salons et Dégustations de l’année 2015

January 29, 2015

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Important 2015 Fairs and Tastings

January 26, 2015

The dead of winter, after the holiday season, is when the quinta is “quiet”. Our 2014 port, wine and olive oil are all resting for further evaluation. Ongoing work in the cellars continues, that never stops. The grapevines are dormant, pruning, burning vineyard debris and manually tilling the soil around the trunk are underway.  The tourist season is very slow, a contrast from the intense “other” 9 months of the year. Days are short, leafless trees allow to see details usually covered up, green ground cover is a pleasant change from the usual brown.  The mind is more reflective, yet plotting out strategy for 2015!

We are proud of our achievements in 2014, especially the prestigious Best of Wine Tourism for Wine Tourism Services, the Gold Medal for our Vintage 2011 at Vinidivio in Dijon, France and the ongoing high ratings and impressive medals for our ports and red wines.  There is always room for improvement.

This year we will be present at the following key tastings:

-Essencia do Vinho: Porto, Portugal 26 Feb  1 March

-Prowein: Dusseldorf, Germany from March 15  to 17

-Vinitaly: Verona, Italy  from March 22 to  25

-Vinexpo: Bordeaux, France from June 14 to 18

Please contact us to set up a visit and tasting if you attend.  As always, we appreciate your preference for Quinta do Tedo.

Here are some winter photos from our property, a lovely time for breathing more deeply.


Crystal clear winter day.


Dormant vine.


Green ground cover a pleasant change from the usual brown.


Tangerines bursting with flavor.


Cleaning around each trunk of a parcel planted in 2012.


To keep the body warm while outside.


We always find yet another place to plant cabbage!


We await you at any time of the year~ Kay

Wishes for the holidays

December 22, 2014


Gold for our Vintage 2011 at Vinidivio – Dijon, France

November 30, 2014
Gold Medal for Quinta do Tedo's Vintage 2011.

Gold Medal for Quinta do Tedo’s Vintage 2011.

Not just because Vincent is Burgundian do I applaude the professional, warm and generous reception of Douro Valley producers at Vinidivio during Dijon’s 84th International Gastronomic Fair, that took place from  30 October to 4 November. Each year a non-French viticultural region is chosen to be at the “table of honor”, and during 5 days we proudly showcased our wines and ports along with 20+/- selected Douro Valley wineries.

Port style differences tasted.

Port style differences tasted.

Tasting the public, private collectors, trade and wine professionals and sharing our knowledge of port style differences, of Douro Valley with her beautiful traditions and dynamic innovations was our grand honneur.  Vinidivio’s additional seminars/group tastings/professional days were well-received  and impressively organized.  Not to mention the apéritifs, dinners, visits to Burgundy’s prestigious wineries and the unforgettable participation at the Paulée de Dijon organized with Douro Valley wineries that created a great sense of camaraderie between the 2 wine regions, such is the wine world!

!st prize Dijon

Awards handed out at la Paulée de Dijon.

Proud to share with you that Quinta do Tedo received the Gold for our Vintage 2011 handed out during the Paulée.  A big thanks to all organizers to include the sommeliers present, especially to Florence Zito and Manuel Cabral.  Merci bien~

NB For a food and wine lover to have “experienced” a gastronomic fair in France with close to 600 exhibitors of véritable French cuisine and wine where I lunched sur place for 5 days is equivalent to having been “at large” in a 5-story candy store for a young child! In addition, the Paulée de Dijon, with over 150 attendants to include Burgundy and Douro Valley wine producers, with bottles of  prestigious wines shared at tables with a pairing menu catered by Michelin-rated group Bernard Loiseau was icing on top of the cake! ~ Kay

Our sublime Portos: Vintage 2011 and Vintage 2011 Savedra

October 30, 2014
Sublime Vintage 2011

Our sublime Vintage 2011 Savedra

Last week at our Dutch importer Okhuysen’s annual warehouse pre-holiday tasting our 2011 Vintage Porto and 2011 Vintage Porto Savedra attracted serious attention.  For obvious reason: Vintage Port (or Porto) 2011 is considered the best since 20 years by many Port authorities.  Tasters held their glass for a small pour, eyes lit up in delight over the dark purple inky color and upon tasting their eyes gazed upward to the left, a sign of processing information and, in this case, of our Vintage 2011 or Vintage 2011 Savedra’s sublime qualities.

Judging by the intense color in the glass, one knows that the mouth feel will have weight and rich flavor. Blackberry and black cherry jam flavors together with the Douro soil’s schist minerality and rich tannins in the mouth, and native wild rockrose cistus in the nose are the initial descriptors for this young fortified wine. Powerful, complex and gripping, yet with balance and length, these are beautiful Vintage Ports.

Bloomberg’s wine writer Ellin McCoy wrote in 2013 that “collectors whining about Bordeaux prices have an excellent alternative: the 2011 Vintage Ports”.

Highly respected Port expert Mark Squire from The Wine Advocate, wrote recently  about our Vintage Port 2011 Savedra “10% Touriga Nacional together with its old vines field blend (65+ years) … built for the long haul, with concentration and structure (and) beautiful fruit, but also the potential to age well.”  93 points!

Question: when to drink this Vintage?  According to Vincent “enjoy when young after 5 years (2016) to 105 years (2116), avoiding “Vintage Port’s “awkward adolescence” from 10 – 17 years (2021-2028).  Human aging studies point out that we will live longer, up to 120 years, so here is a wine that can accompany your for years to come”.

Oh, that French humor…~

(Français) Vendanges 2014

September 30, 2014
Annual harvest foot treading at Quinta do Tedo

La foulage au pied annuelle à Quinta do Tedo

Des trombes d’eau qui alternent avec de magnifiques journées ensoleillées compliquent la tâche d’une récolte qui a commencé en avance par rapport à la date habituelle du 5 septembre. Même si la région du Douro, au niveau des précipitations et des températures, reste dans la moyenne des 30 dernières années, les mois de juillet et d’août légèrement plus frais ont entraîné un retard de maturation par rapport aux années précédentes.

Inépuisable et dédié Alvaro.

Inépuisable et dédié Alvaro.

Notre fils Joe et son ami d'enfance Peter McElearney au travail!

Notre fils Joe et son ami d’enfance Peter McElearney au travail!

Des sourires dans la pluie.

Des sourires dans la pluie.

Notre fille Odile âgée de 20 ans et moi-même avons ouvert les portes du « Bistro O.K. », capacité 15 couverts, pendant la période des vendanges, sous une pergola dominant la rivière Tedo. Quelle meilleure manière de passer la journée, après un tour du domaine et une dégustation de nos Portos, vins rouges Douro DOC et d’huile d’olive. La cuisine est un mélange de la portugaise, la californienne et la française (qu’attendiez-vous !) et ainsi nos clients sont enchantés de pouvoir déjeuner sur place pendant que les vendanges ont lieu. Peut-être l’offrirons-nous aussi l’année prochaine ?

Opening day at Bistro O.K.
Le jour d’ouverture pour Bistro O.K.
University friend Ariana even got into
Odile, copine d’université Arianna au travail avec guide touristique Monia.
Fantastic view of Tedo while pairing food to our Porto and wine.
Splendide vue sur le Tedo avec un verre de notre Porto – la vie est rose!

Le dernier jour des vendanges est toujours émouvant , quand selon la tradition du Douro, l’équipe des vendangeurs, de la cuisine, et d’autres travailleurs se rassemblent pour une petite fête – beignets faites maison saupoudrées de sucre-cannelle, des bolo – gâteau à l’orange, des bola – pain brioché rempli d’une savoureuse farce, accompagnés bien-sûr d’un verre de Porto Quinta do Tedo. Les employés préparent un chant retraçant la récolte et offrent un bouquet de fleurs aux propriétaires et nous en retour, offrons un ban bourguignon et un pourboire. Quelle merveilleuse tradition pour tous.

Last truckload of grapes ready to go!
Dernière livraison de raisins prêt à aller.
Cuisiniere Adelaide propose un bouquet de fleurs avec un poème de récolte. 
Vincent et je les remercie pour leur superbe travail.
Vive vendanges 2014!

Cumprimentos ~ Kay


Harvest 2014

September 30, 2014
Annual harvest foot treading at Quinta do Tedo
Annual harvest foot treading at Quinta do Tedo.

Patches of rainfall interrupting gorgeous days of Douro sun add challenges to a harvest that started ahead of usual 5 September harvest date and ended later on 26 September.  Even though the Douro region remains within the 30-yr average of both precipitation and temperature, slightly cooler July and August resulted in grapes ripening later than in the past several years.  The quality looks very good. This year the landscape has remained greener and no one has heard about the terrible Portuguese wildfires that normally plague the hills during the very hot and dry summer months!

Inexhaustable and dedicated Alvaro.
Inexhaustible and dedicated Alvaro.
Son Joe and Peter McElearney (childhood friend from Napa Valley) both worked harvest, super hard-working cellar rats.
Cracking smiles even in the rain!

20 yr-old daughter Odile and I opened doors during the harvest period to a 15-seat “Bistro O.K.” (Bistro Odile and Kay !) under a pergola overlooking our scenic Tedo river.  What better way to spend the day after a tour of our property and a tasting of our ports, Douro DOC red wines and olive oil.  The Portuguese/Californian/French fusion cuisine (what would you expect ?!) was a novidade for the quinta and our guests were thrilled to dine sur place while the harvest was underway.  Perhaps to offer as well next year ?

Opening day at Bistro O.K.

Opening day at Bistro O.K.

University friend Ariana even got into
University friend Arianna working at Bistro O.K., here together with tour guide Monia.
Fantastic view of Tedo while pairing food to our Porto and wine.
Fantastic view of Tedo while pairing food to our Porto and wine.

Harvest’s last day is always touching, when according to Douro tradition,  the harvest crew, cook, and other workers gather for a little party- with homemade cinnamon-sugar dusted fritas, orange cake bolo and savory meat bolas enjoyed  together with, of course, a glass of Quinta do Tedo Porto.  The workers prepare a song recounting the harvest and offer a bouquet of flowers to the owners and Vincent and I sing back to them, and in turn, offer a tip !  What a wonderful tradition for all.

Last truckload of grapes ready to go!

Last truckload of grapes ready to go!

Cook Adelaide offering bouquet, a Douro tradition.
Vincent and I returning their song with our song to thank them for their hard work.
Long live harvest 2014 (with Italian friends Silvia Lastri and Ricardo Soldani).



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…



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.

(Français) Notre principale force de travail à Quinta do Tedo

August 29, 2014

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