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Duas Quintas 25th Anniversary Verticals Part 2: Douro DOC Reds

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Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Duas Quintas in style, Chief Winemaker João Nicolau de Almeida

Last Friday I wrote up a fascinating tasting – Duas Quintas’ 25th anniversary vertical of white wines.  As you might expect, the Ramos Pinto-owned Douro marque’s first wines were red. Following single varietal experiments during the 1980s (check out this note on the incredible 1981 Tinto Cão), the maiden red – a blend – was released in 1990.  It has a very interesting back story – in fact, you might even say it had a frosty start!

This eagerly anticipated first release – the culmination of wine trials dating back to 1981 – was a very near miss.  Nothing to do with the quality of wine. Chief Winemaker João Nicolau de Almeida told us he was “very happy” with it at bottling.  However, the very next day, he received word of disaster. Hot-footing it back to the Douro from Oporto he discovered that, “in something like the coldest year in a century,” the wine had frozen, forcing the corks out!

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A frosty start for the maiden 1990 release

It was all the more embarrassing when his new French masters (Roederer Group had just acquired Ramos Pinto that year) were “very excited” about the maiden release – de Almeida recalled thinking “my first act was to freeze the wine – they’re going to think I’m crazy!”   Fortunately, when he tasted the wine it was good.  In the end, 80,000 bottles were uncorked of which 60,000 were successfully salvaged and released.

As with the whites, this vertical revealed that the best red wine vintages were often made in generally declared Vintage Port years.   The other striking revelation of the tasting was the longevity of the Classico – it offers terrific and complex bang for modest buck (the outstanding 2011 is just £12 at Oddbins).

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At the vanguard of single varietal planting – an experimental single varietal red (reviewed here)

Again, in parallel with the whites, the grape varieties used for the reds have diversified over time, beyond the “top cinco” which the Ramos Pinto team originally identified (Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca – a.k.a. Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão and Tinta Barroca).  To good effect where latter vintages show greater complexity and layer.

Here are my notes on verticals of both the Classico (all 75cl bottles) and Reserva reds (all from magnum, save the 1992), in each case preceded by Ramos Pinto’s short description of the vintage (in italics/bold) and vintage, vinification and varietal summaries.  My stand out vintages?  Of the Classicos: 1992, 1994, 1997, 2004, 2007, 2011.  Of the Reservas: 1997, 2007 & 2011.

Duas Quintas Tinto Classico vertical

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Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto 1990

“the beginning of a new era”

Climate: Although the total annual rainfall was generally above average, one cannot consider that it was a humid year, given the irregular distribution of rain. Rainfall during the winter months was very high, reaching 80% of the total for the year. As for the temperatures, the months of December and February registered above average temperatures for the season. The Summer was hot and dry and this caused a few problems in the development of the growing cycle. During the month of August and in early September there was no development in the alcohol content and the musts showed little acidity. The rainfall in the second half of September helped to improve maturation.

Vinification: A new and modern winery was fully equipped in 1990 to produce the wines Duas Quintas. The selected grapes from Quinta de Ervamoira and Quinta dos Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel vats with pumping over at controlled temperatures. The maceration was soft and the extraction smooth. After the malolactic fermentation, 20% of the wine is aged in two and three-year-old Portuguese oak casks, for 6 months. The wine spent 2 winters in the winery and it was bottled in the spring of 1992.

Grape varieties: Touriga Francesa (50%), Tinta Roriz (25%), Tinta Barroca (15%),Touriga Nacional (10%)

Tasting note: the ice lolly vintage still has a pulse, with iodine-edged, slightly salty plum fruit, but it is drying out and a little attenuated. 12%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto 1992

“the confirmation of douro superior great potential”

Climate: The 1992 vintage had a very dry winter and a very hot summer. The heavy rains of August saved the vintage providing good conditions for the ripeness of the grapes. In September/October, during the harvest, the weather was cooler which was very positive. These conditions resulted in a very small grape size, and consequently in a small production.

Vinification: The selected grapes from Quinta de Ervamoira and Quinta dos Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel vats with pumping over at controlled temperatures. The maceration was soft and the extraction smooth. After the malolactic fermentation, 10% of the wine is aged in two and three-year-old Portuguese oak casks, for 6 months. The wine spent 2 winters in the winery and it was bottled in the spring of 1994.

Grape varieties: Touriga Francesa (60%), Tinta Roriz (20%), Tinta Barroca (10%),Touriga Nacional (10%)

Tasting note: with good fruit still, the palate is fleshy, quite rich and mellow with dark chocolate and hints of eucalypt and cassia bark.  Impressive persistence too for this winner of the IWC’s Iberian Trophy.  Excellent.  12.5%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto 1994

“the year of the decade”

Climate: 1994 was an excellent year, with amazing weather conditions. The soils had absorbed  enough water after a rainy winter and spring. A hot summer followed by some rain early September produced perfect ripe grapes.

Vinification: The selected grapes from Quinta de Ervamoira and Quinta dos Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel vats with pumping over at controlled temperatures. The maceration was soft and the extraction smooth. After the malolactic fermentation, 20% of the wine is aged in two and three-year-old Portuguese oak casks for 6 months. The wine spent 2 winters in the winery and it was bottled in the spring of 1996.

Grape varieties: Touriga Francesa (45%), Tinta Roriz (40%), Touriga Nacional (15%)

Tasting note: a solid core of dark berry and currant fruit, in fact it’s a little four square.  That said ripe but present tannins and persistent acidity carry a long, very (dark) chocolatey finish with a useful eucalyptus lift in the tail for light relief.  Very good. 12.5%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto 1997

“duas quintas reaches adulthood”

Climate: An atypical year. A dry winter characterized by a hot February, with the vines bursting early and full of strength. It was followed by a rainy spring and a cold May. The lower altitudes, which registered higher temperatures were more protected, but the higher quotas were eventually affected by this weather change. Maturation developed in a very irregular climate until the arrival of the equinox with ideal temperatures. The long, hot and dry summer raised the sugar levels, the concentration of colour and the ripening, which resulted in tannin-rich wines of excellent quality, making this a memorable harvest.

Vinification: The selected grapes from Quinta de Ervamoira and Quinta dos Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel vats with pumping over at controlled temperatures. The maceration was soft and the extraction smooth. After the malolactic fermentation, 50% of the wine is aged in two and three-year-old French oak casks for 8 months. The wine spent 2 winters in the winery and it was bottled in the spring of 1999.

Grape varieties: Touriga Francesa (40%), Tinta Roriz (40%), Touriga Nacional (20%)

Tasting note: de Almeida told me that the tannins were very fine in 1997, but I suspect that the advent of French oak played a role in the elegance of both 97s – the Classico and Reserva.  A sweet fruited nose with juicy, chocolate edged plum and (attractive) herb sausage notes, cedar and iodine hints on the palate.  The finish is a touch gravelly, the tannins fine but plentiful – a plume into the finish with enough juice – fruit and acid – to lubricate it to the last. Intense, fine-boned and elegant. 12.5%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto 1999

“a turbulent year”

Climate: A difficult year with climatic upheavals that resulted in a difference in the quality of the grapes on the higher levels (medium quality) and the lower levels (great quality). The condition of the grapes varied greatly, therefore a surgical vintage was necessary and this resulted in a significant fall in production.

Vinification: The grapes, harvested by hand in 150 kilos boxes, were selected by variety and by vineyard. After being crushed and destemmed they fermented in granite “lagares” and in stainless steel vats, with “pigeage” and pumping over. Maceration in lagares is short, whilst in vats is prolonged for the time needed to obtain a wine with the desired body and structure. After the malolactic fermentation, 50% of the wine is aged in two and three-year-old French oak casks for 8 months. The wine spent 2 winters in the winery and it was bottled in the spring of 2001.

Grape varieties: Touriga Francesa (40%), Tinta Roriz (40%), Touriga Nacional (20%)

Tasting note: Plummy with a rather short, slightly salty dilute finish. 12%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto 2000

“new douro at the dawn of the millennium”

Climate: The winter was exceptionally dry and with hardly any rain from October until the end of February. However, April was cool and damp and the rain persisted until May, therefore the precipitation registered was three times higher than usual. Flowering took place in May under very humid conditions, leading to a decrease in fruit production. All these conditions resulted in one of the smallest harvest we have ever had. July and August were characterised by the occurrence of some showers that proved very useful, although it was not a very hot summer, by which at the end of August, maturation was slightly delayed. September began with an abnormally warm period, leading to a rapid maturation. At the start of harvest,the fruit was in excellent condition.

Vinification: The grapes, harvested by hand in 150 kilos boxes, were selected by variety and by vineyard. After being crushed and destemmed they fermented in granite “lagares” and in stainless steel vats, with “pigeage” and pumping over. Maceration in lagares is short, whilst in vats is prolonged for the time needed to obtain a wine with the desired body and structure. After the malolactic fermentation, 50% of the wine is aged in two and three-year-old French oak casks for 8 months. The wine spent 2 winters in the winery and it was bottled in the spring of 2003.

Grape varieties: Touriga Francesa (40%), Tinta Roriz (40%), Touriga Nacional (20%)

Tasting note: A touch gamy with quite chunky, blocky tannins;  solid and lacking a bit of definition and finesse.  13%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto 2002

“a tricky year”

Climate: The winter of 2001/2002 was relatively dry in the Douro region. The large fluctuations in temperature continued through most of the winter and brought about a later than usual bud burst in mid-March. April is typically a wet month in the Douro but the dry conditions continued and very little rain fell. Flowering took place in mid-May under dry but cloudy conditions, leading to a reasonable fruit set. The summer was mild, which was fortunate because low levels of rainfall continued throughout this period. The vines resisted the dry conditions surprisingly well, partly due to sporadic showers. August was unusually mild and in September we approached the harvest with confidence. Everything indicated that we were building up to what might be a classic year: low yields, some water stress, grapes in near-perfect condition and mild weather conditions for a balanced ripening.

Vinification: The grapes, harvested by hand in 150 kilos boxes, were selected by variety and by vineyard. After being crushed and destemmed they fermented in granite “lagares” and in stainless steel vats, with “pigeage” and pumping over. Maceration in lagares is short, whilst in vats is prolonged for the time needed to obtain a wine with the desired body and structure. After the  malolactic fermentation, 50% of the wine is aged in two and three-year-old French oak casks, for 8 months. The wine spent 2 winters in the winery and it was bottled in the spring of 2004.

Grape varieties: Touriga Francesa (40%), Tinta Roriz (40%), Tinta Barroca (20%)

Tasting note: a deep colour with a motile if not the most concentrated palate – lovely fluidity and elegance, with bitter chocolate notes to its plum and berry fruit, decent persistence and a touch of cat’s fur to  the tannins.  Medium length.  A good effort in a tricky year.

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto 2004

“saint peter came to the rescue”

Climate: 2004 was an unusual year. October and November 2003 were extremely damp months, followed by an uncommonly dry start to 2004. In August, the vines were in excellent condition, though high water stress was noted. What would be unlikely indeed happened: a good rainfall in August. This rain was also accompanied by relatively low temperatures for the Douro region, which resulted in much slower ripening. September began with unstable weather, which could have easily damaged the grapes, followed by a long, sunny spell with daily temperatures of around 30°C. The  harvest took place without a single drop of rain.

Vinification: The grapes, harvested by hand in 150 kilos boxes, were selected by variety and by vineyard. After being crushed and destemmed they fermented in granite “lagares” and in stainless steel vats, with “pigeage” and pumping over. Maceration in lagares is short, whilst in vats is prolonged for the time needed to obtain a wine with the desired body and structure. After the malolactic fermentation, 20% of the wine is aged in in two and three-yearold French oak casks for 12 months. The wine spent 2 winters in the winery and it was bottled in the spring of 2006.

Grape varieties: Touriga Francesa (40%), Tinta Roriz (40%),Touriga Nacional (20%)

Tasting note: this is a vintage I generally like very much and this wine is no exception.  Great fruit concentration, intensity and persistence with a subtle green, spicy edge to its black berry, currant and plum fruit and fine graphite tannins.  Long and elegant of delivery.  Excellent. 13.5%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto 2005

“back to the future”

Climate: Despite extremely dry conditions, 2005 produced excellent wines. In late August, the vines showed signs of high stress. The previous winter had been very dry. There was great concern over that year’s harvest when August came to a close without any signs of rain. But the weather changed in early September with a constant rainfall during some of the harvest days. The rain gave way to a clear sky, offering ideal conditions, cool nights and a heavy dew for the remainder of the harvest.

Vinification: The grapes, harvested by hand in 150 kilos boxes, were selected by variety and by vineyard. After being crushed and destemmed they fermented in granite “lagares” and in stainless steel vats, with “pigeage” and pumping over. Maceration in lagares is short, whilst in vats is prolonged for the time needed to obtain a wine with the desired body and structure. After the malolactic fermentation, 20% of the wine is aged in two and three-year-old French oak casks, for 12 months. The wine spent 2 winters in the winery and it was bottled in the spring of 2007.

Grape varieties: Touriga Francesa (40%), Tinta Roriz (40%), Touriga Nacional (20%),

Tasting note: conversely, I’m not generally a fan of 2005s.  I found this example a little compressed, with grainy, quite blocky tannins which were chewy and punctuating on the finish.  A core of bitter chocolate-edged plum has a nice wash of acidity and perfumed cedary oak.  But it doesn’t manage to break free of the tannins and establish momentum.  Will it?  I’m not sure.  I picked up a hint of iodine which suggests that the fruit might dry out before the tannins resolve.  13.5%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto 2007

“a classical year in douro”

Climate: November and February were very wet, as was the month of May, and the month of June in particular, which was wet and cool, mainly in the Douro Superior. This originated a slow, gradual maturation of the grapes on our quintas, which attained their ideal condition with the rise in temperature in early September, which was dry and hot. This development of the maturation produced an optimal acidity/sugar balance, strength and great aromatic expression in the grapes, characteristics that define 2007 wines.

Vinification: The grapes, harvested by hand in 150 kilos boxes, were selected by variety and by vineyard. After being crushed and destemmed they fermented in granite “lagares” and in stainless steel vats, with “pigeage” and pumping over. Maceration in lagares is short, whilst in vats is prolonged for the time needed to obtain a wine with the desired body and structure. After the malolactic fermentation, 20% of the wine is aged in two and three-year-old French oak casks, for 14 months. The wine spent 2 winters in the winery and it was bottled in the spring of 2009.

Grape varieties: Touriga Francesa (40%), Tinta Roriz (40%), Touriga Nacional (20%)

Tasting note: a hint of greenness on the nose with bitter chocolate, which notes are more subtle in the mouth.  Lovely energy, flow and drive to the palate, with 2007’s rock rose florality providing a veritable flourish to a very long, fine finish with cedar, graphite and gravel notes.  With its long plume of tannins it puts me in mind of the 1997.  Excellent. 14%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto 2011

“thank you nature!”

Climate: 2011 was preceded by two dry winters, which led to an early vineyard growing cycle,  followed by a warm, wet spring and a dry summer with cool nights. The harvest started early with high temperatures and the maturation took quite a long time. This climate produced very aromatic and intense dark wines, with a fantastic acidity. It’s hard to say exactly how a great vintage happens, or which factors contribute to success – science cannot explain everything!

Vinification: The grapes, harvested by hand in 150 kilos boxes, were selected by variety and by vineyard. After being crushed and destemmed they fermented in granite “lagares” and in stainless steel vats, with “pigeage” and pumping over. Maceration in lagares is short, whilst in vats is prolonged for the time needed to obtain a wine with the desired body and structure. After the malolactic fermentation, 25% of the wine is aged in French oak casks, 15% in oak vats and the remainder in stainless steel vats for 14 months. The wine spent 2 winters in the winery and it was bottled in the spring of 2013.

Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional (45%), Touriga Francesa (35%), Mix of Douro grape varieties (20%), Tinta Roriz, Tinta da Barca,, Tinta Barroca, Sousão, Tinto Cão, Tinta Amarela

Tasting note: –this vintage rings a few changes – the introduction of large format oak vats and a host of other grape varieties.  In this exceptional vintage this wine is markedly deep in hue with a youthful pink rim.  A youthfulness which is reinforced by a formidably concentrated, still tightly coiled palate with prodigious ripe tannins to match.  This will go some distance.  It reveals exotic hints of coriander spice and bergamot dark currant/berry and chocolate palate as it opens up.  Great structure – an outstanding wine – especially for £12!  14%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto 2013

“a full bodied wine”

Climate: 2013 witnessed a rainy winter and a wet spring, followed by a hot summer, which a priori indicated a year with good characteristics. The low spring temperatures reflected on the small size of the berries (especially at Quinta de Ervamoira), with a direct impact on the concentration of the wines, which became one of the main characteristics of the wines of this harvest.

Vinification: The grapes, harvested by hand in 150 kilos boxes, are crushed and destemmed for fermentation in lagares and in stainless steel vats, where maceration is prolonged for the time needed to obtain a wine with the desired body and structure. After the malolactic fermentation, 20% of the wine is aged in French oak casks, 30% in barrels and the remainder in stainless steel vats for 13 months. The wine spent 2 winters in the winery and it was bottled in February 2015.

Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional (43%), Touriga Francesa (37%), Mix of Douro grape varieties (20%) Tinta Roriz, Tinta da Barca, Tinta Barroca, Sousão, Tinto Cão, Tinta Amarela.

Tasting note: while youthful, the 2011 has a purposefulness – great focus – about it.  The 2013 is still a little gangly and callow with a ping of reduction to its almost winery fresh fruit and a touch of wamrth (alcohol) – it’s still finding its feet.  Not the most concentrated of the vintages but I like its ruffle and roll of tannins.  Give it time. 14%

Duas Quintas Tinto Reserva vertical

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto Reserva 1992

“the confirmation of douro superior great potential”

Climate: The 1992 vintage had a very dry winter and a very hot summer. The heavy rains of August saved the vintage providing good conditions for the ripeness of the grapes. In September/October, during the harvest, the weather was cooler which was very positive. These conditions resulted in a very small grape size, and consequently in a small production.

Vinification: The grapes from Ervamoira were foot trodden and fermented in granite “lagares” and those from Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel tanks with pumping over and controlled temperatures. The maceration was soft and classic. Following malolactic fermentation, 20% of the wine aged in Portuguese and French oak casks for 9 months. It was bottled two years after the harvest and aged in the bottle for 1 year.

Grape varieties: Touriga Francesa (50%), Touriga Nacional (25%), Tinta Barroca (25%).

Tasting note: though it’s a little attenuated the ’92 has flashes of loveliness with lifted coriander seed, bay leaf and pencil shavings going through and some flesh on its mid-palate bones.  A touch of iodine on a medium length finish reinforces this is teetering over the hill.  12.5% NB this was the only wine in 75cl bottles – the other Reservas were in magnum.

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto Reserva 1994

“the year of the decade”

Climate: 1994 was an excellent year, with amazing weather conditions. The soils had absorbed enough water after a rainy winter and spring. A hot summer followed by some rain early September produced perfect ripe grapes.

Vinification: The grapes from Ervamoira were foot trodden and fermented in granite “lagares” and those from Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel tanks with pumping over and controlled temperatures. The maceration was soft and classic. Following malolactic fermentation, 40% of the wine aged in Portuguese and French oak casks for 9 months. It was bottled two years after the harvest and aged in the bottle for 1 year.

Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional (50%), Touriga Francesa (30%), Tinta Barroca (20%).

Tasting note: still a deep colour with distinctly sweeter fruit to the nose than the ’97, in fact a little Porty and panforte on the palate with its rich, round dried fruits and attractive bergamot lift.  Just a touch over-ripe (for my palate), but satisfying for sure with its broad, chocolatey tannins. 13%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto Reserva 1997

“duas quintas reaches adulthood”

Climate: An atypical year. A dry winter characterized by a hot February, with the vines bursting early and full of strength. It was followed by a rainy spring and a cold May. The lower altitudes, which registered higher temperatures were more protected, but the higher quotas were eventually affected by this weather change. Maturation developed in a very irregular climate until the arrival of the equinox with ideal temperatures. The long, hot and dry summer raised the sugar levels, the concentration of colour and the ripening, which resulted in tannin-rich wines of excellent quality, making this a memorable harvest.

Vinification: The grapes from Ervamoira were foot trodden and fermented in granite “lagares” and those from Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel tanks with pumping over and controlled temperatures. The maceration was soft and classic. Following malolactic fermentation, 60% of the wine aged in French oak casks for 9 months. It was bottled two years after the harvest and aged in the bottle for 1 year.

Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional (50%), Touriga Francesa (30%), Tinta Barroca (10%), Tinta da Barca (10%).

Tasting note:  as it should be I guess, the 1997 Classico and Reserva are like peas in a pod, the Reserva sharing the junior wine’s cedar spice and herb sausage lift and its beautifully fine – even more refined here – long, elegant tannins.  As you’d expect from the Reserva, the fruit is more concentrated – richer – but still very composed.   Superb length and polish. Such was its elegance I was mighty surprised to discover it weighs in at 15% abv!

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto Reserva 1999

“a turbulent year”

Climate: A difficult year with climatic upheavals that resulted in a difference in the quality of the grapes on the higher levels (medium quality) and the lower levels (great quality). The condition of the grapes varied greatly, therefore a surgical vintage was necessary and this resulted in a significant fall in production.

Vinification: The grapes from Ervamoira were foot trodden and fermented in granite “lagares” and those from Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel tanks with pumping over and controlled temperatures. The maceration was soft and classic. Following malolactic fermentation, 60% of the wine aged in French oak casks for 9 months. It was bottled 2 years after the harvest and aged in the bottle for 1 year.

Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional (70%), Tinta Barroca (30%)

Tasting note: spicy blood plum – quite dilute with an evolved biscuity, quite short finish. 12%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto Reserva 2000

“new douro at the dawn of the millennium”

Climate: The winter was exceptionally dry and with hardly any rain from October until the end of February. However, April was cool and damp and the rain persisted until May, therefore the precipitation registered was three times higher than usual. Flowering took place in May under very humid conditions, leading to a decrease in fruit production. All these conditions resulted in one of the smallest harvest we have ever had. July and August were characterised by the occurrence of some showers that proved very useful, although it was not a very hot summer, by which at the end of August, maturation was slightly delayed. September began with an abnormally warm period, leading to a rapid maturation. At the start of harvest, the fruit was in excellent condition.

Vinification: The grapes from Ervamoira were trodden and fermented in granite “lagares”. The grapes from Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel tanks with pumping over and controlled temperatures. The maceration was quite long.  Following malolactic fermentation, 80% of the wine aged in French oak casks for 12 months. It was bottled 2 years after the harvest and aged in the bottle for 1 year.

Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional (50%), Touriga Francesa (30%), Tinta Barroca (10%), Tinta Roriz (10%).

Tasting note: a very deep hue, this is a concentrated, rich, ripe red with an attractive gamy hint to the nose and rich confit plum and blackberry fruit on the palate.  Inky floral and bitter chocolate notes chime in on the finish. Verging towards porty, it’s drinking well now.  13%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto Reserva 2002

“a tricky year”

Climate: The winter of 2001/2002 was relatively dry in the Douro region. The large fluctuations in temperature continued through most of the winter and brought about a later than usual bud burst in mid-March. April is typically a wet month in the Douro but the dry conditions continued and very little rain fell. Flowering took place in mid-May under dry but cloudy conditions, leading to a reasonable fruit set. The summer was mild, which was fortunate because low levels of rainfall continued throughout this period. The vines resisted the dry conditions surprisingly well, partly due to sporadic showers. August was unusually mild and in September we approached the harvest with Confidence. Everything indicated that we were building up to what might be a classic year: low yields, some water stress, grapes in near-perfect condition and mild weather conditions for a balanced ripening.

Vinification: The grapes from Ervamoira were trodden and fermented in granite “lagares” and those from Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel tanks with pumping over and controlled temperatures. The maceration was soft. 80% of the wine aged in French oak casks for 12 months. It was bottled in July 2004.

Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional (67%) Tinta Barroca (33%)

Tasting note:  a  bit light, with quite fluid (dilute?) plum fruit and chocolatey tannins.  The oak outpaces the fruit on the finish.  Lacks stuffing.  13.5%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto Reserva 2004

“saint peter came to the rescue”

Climate: 2004 was an unusual year. October and November 2003 were extremely damp months, followed by an uncommonly dry start to 2004. In August, the vines were in excellent condition, though high water stress was noted. What would be unlikely indeed happened: a good rainfall in August. This rain was also accompanied by relatively low temperatures for the Douro region, which resulted in much slower ripening. September began with unstable weather, which could have easily damaged the grapes, followed by a long, sunny spell with daily temperatures of around 30°C. The harvest took place without a single drop of rain. Vinification: The grapes from Ervamoira were robot trodden and fermented in granite “lagares” and those from Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel tanks with pumping over and controlled temperatures. The maceration in tank lasted one month and the skins were pressed in old vertical press. Malolactic fermentation took place in 6.000-litre “foudre” and followed by 18 months in 225-litre French oak casks. The wine was bottled in July 2006.

Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional (80%), Touriga Francesa (15%), Tinta Barroca (5%).

Tasting note: a very deep colour bodes well but unfortunately the wine suffers from pronounced brettanomyces.  João attributed this to some used barrels acquired that year. 13.5%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto Reserva 2005

“back to the future”

Climate: Despite extremely dry conditions, 2005 produced excellent wines. In late August, the vines showed signs of high stress. The previous winter had been very dry. There was great concern over that year’s harvest when August came to a close without any signs of rain. But the weather changed in early September with a constant rainfall during some of the harvest days. The rain gave way to a clear sky, offering ideal conditions, cool nights and a heavy dew for the remainder of the harvest.

Vinification: The grapes from Ervamoira were robot trodden and fermented in granite “lagares” and those from Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel tanks with “pigeage” system. Fermentation temperature ranged from 25°C to 28°C. The maceration in tank lasted one month and the skins were pressed in old vertical press. Malolactic fermentation took place in 6.000-litre “foudre” and followed by 14 months in 225-litre French oak casks. The wine was bottled in 2007.

Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional (80%), Touriga Francesa (15%), Tinta Barroca (5%).

Tasting note: not as concentrated in colour or palate as the 2007, this is more open knit, baggier red – a little over-ripe and raisined, with chocolately tannins.

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto Reserva 2007

“a classical year in douro”

Climate: November and February were very wet, as was the month of May, and the month of June in particular, which was wet and cool, mainly in the Douro Superior. This originated a slow, gradual maturation of the grapes on our quintas, which attained their ideal condition with the rise in temperature in early September, which was dry and hot. This development of the maturation produced an optimal acidity/sugar balance, strength and great aromatic expression in the grapes, characteristics that define 2007 wines.

Vinification: The grapes from Ervamoira were robot trodden and fermented in granite “lagares” and those from Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel tanks with pumping over and controlled temperatures. The maceration in tank lasted one month and the skins were pressed in old vertical press. Malolactic fermentation took place in 6.000-litre “foudre” and followed by 20 months in 225-litre French oak casks. The wine was bottled in the spring of 2009.

Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional (70%), Touriga Francesa (25%), Tinta Barroca (5%).

Tasting note: a youthful deep, opaque purple with smoky, sweet oak, bitter chocolate and a deep seam of fruit as yet to be mined.  With a firm (but ripe) brace of tannins, though densely concentrated, it doesn’t carry an ounce of flab. Dry and serious, this will be very long-lived.  Outstanding.  15%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto Reserva 2011

“thank you nature!”

Climate: 2011 was preceded by two dry winters, which led to an early vineyard growing cycle, followed by a warm, wet spring and a dry summer with cool nights. The harvest started early with high temperatures and the maturation took quite a long time. This climate produced very aromatic and intense dark wines, with a fantastic acidity. It’s hard to say exactly how a great vintage happens, or which factors contribute to success – science cannot explain everything!

Vinification: Since 2011 we vinify our grape varieties separately. The grapes from Ervamoira were robot trodden and fermented in granite “lagares” and those from Bons Ares fermented in stainless steel tanks with classic maceration and with “pigeage” system. The maceration in tank lasted one month and the skins were pressed in old vertical press. Malolactic fermentation took place in 6.000- litre “foudre” and followed by 18 months in 225 litre French oak casks. The wine was bottled in 2013.

Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional (50%), Touriga Francesa (40%), Tinta da Barca (10%).

Tasting note: deep rich and chocolately, with cedary lift and an undertow of graphite.  A prodigious but fine charge of tannins – a plume – grabs all the attention right now.  The fruit is deep set, yet to come out of its shell.  The 2011 wreaks of potential.  Another keeper.  14.5%

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto Reserva 2013

“a full bodied wine”

Climate: 2013 witnessed a rainy winter and a wet spring, followed by a hot summer, which a priori indicated a year with good characteristics. The low spring temperatures reflected on the small size of the berries (especially at Quinta de Ervamoira), with a direct impact on the concentration of the wines, which became one of the main characteristics of the wines of this harvest.

Vinification: The grapes, from selected plots on our Quinta de Ervamoira and Quinta dos Bons Ares, were harvested and sorted by hand, into small boxes. Vinification of the Ervamoira grapes was done in granite lagares, whilst the Bons Ares grapes were vinified in wood and in concrete vats, with long maceration. After running off and pressing in a vertical press, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation in oak vats of 6.000 litre and 10.000 litre capacity. For 16 months, it was left to age in new one- and two-year-old barrels. The wine was bottled in early July 2015.

Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional (66%), Touriga Francesa (21%), Tinta da Barca (13%).

Tasting note: a very deep hue.  For now the vanillin oak is sitting on top making it hard to get behind the oak and grippy, powerful tannins and access the coriander seed spiced dark berry and plum fruit.

The wines were tasted on Saturday, 10 October at Quinta do Bom Retiro in the Douro.

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