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.
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!