One of the famous estates in Baixo Corgo, the closest subregion of the Douro Valley to the Atlantic Ocean, is Quinta do Cotto founded in 1824.
The other subregions are Cima Corgo and Douro Superior. Both are much hotter than Baixo Corgo yielding super-ripe, sweet grapes more suitable for fortified port production than table wine.
Field Marshal, Champalimaud originally from the city of Limoges, in France, famous for porcelain was one of the, most distinguished commanders during the Peninsular Wars against the armies of Napoleon. He decided to start the winery after his military career in the employ of the Portuguese government.
Champalimaud’s daughter,Dona Carlota Casimira, married into the Montez family. In those days the groom took the family name of the bride and the name of the company remained Montes Champalimaud, but the estate is still called Quinta do Cotto. It was originally strictly a port wine producer, but since 1986 when the government permitted estates to direct-ship, the production changed gradually to table wines.
Baixo Douro, only 50 Kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean, enjoys cooler temperatures and diurnal temperature changes that benefit grape quality destined for table wine production.
Douro Valley’s schistose soil is particularly suitable for vines that must struggle to survive, and which bear small quantities, but deeply flavored fruit. Bunches are compact, and the small, thick-skinned berries provide a powerful flavour base for wines in general, fortified wines in particular.
Quinta do Cottos’s vineyards are on relatively flat lands and only partially terraced terrain, unlike others in Cima Corgo and Douro Superior to the east, where all vines must be planted on soil shaped patamares style in the region.
Quinta do Cotto produces three table wines of distinction from estate grown fruit – Quinta do Cotto Grande Eschola, Quinta do Cotto and Paco de Teixeiro (white). For red wines, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cao and Sausao grapes are used. All red wines are deeply flavored, brilliant in colour, dark, and cellar worthy for at least a decade.
For the white wines, Avesso, Loureiro, Trajadura and Pedernop (aka Arinto) are employed. All white grapes are sufficiently acid to yield a fully balanced and aromatic wine.
The port wines of the estate are marketed as Champalimaud. The 1989 vintage stands our as does 1995 (Available in Ontario at the Vintages, 917757, $ 38.95). This is an excellent vintage port exuding ripe black cherry aromas, and rich vinous notes. Well-extracted, this concentrated port with a good tannin backbone would age nicely for another decade, and fully ready by 2014.
The Quinta do Cotto Grand Eschola is produced only in best vintages, and from vines older than 25 years aka old vines. The total never exceeds 67,000 bottles.
The 2000 vintage consists of Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional is aged in Portuguese oak barrels for an average of 20 months and displays cherry aromas, spicy flavours in the mouth with remarkable complexity and finesse. (Available at Vintages $ 59.95, 976316).
Quinta do Cotto wines are always reliable for quality and value pending on vintage and are highly recommended .