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The international Douro Nature Park is located on the heights overlooking the valley of this majestic river, a haven of tranquillity where the wings of the last big griffons are silhouetted against the immaculately blue skies. We enter a world where time stands still to allow nature to skilfully develop grapes of an exceptional quality.
Normally, five black grape varieties are used :
There are also four white grape varieties :
On the banks of the river Douro, only the sun reigns supreme. It is in this extreme climate which man has not been able to tame, but in which he merely serves nature, that the vineyards of Do Grifo saw the light of day. Each plot of these vineyards is classified from A (the best) to F, depending on the location, soil, grape variety, age of the vines, exposure to the sun and many other criteria. Such a ranking does not exist anywhere else.
There is a large variety of grapes, but they do not all have the same aromatic and ageing qualities, so that selection is another important element.
The harvest is done by hand in September.
• In smaller quintas, or estates, the grapes are harvested in small rectangular wicker baskets that are taken to the vats using different transport methods.
• In larger quintas, the grapes are poured into rectangular metal containers and trucked in.
In the past, the grapes were carried in baskets that weighed 60 to 75 kilograms. The grapes were then tossed into lagares - which were generally made of granite - where they were stomped and crushed by foot. This effort called for two men for every 500 litres of wine on average. The first stomping, called the corta, or cutting, lasted 4 hours. The men rested for the night and then stomped the grapes again the next day (24 to 36 hours total). This crushing method is still used today for Vintage and Prestige Ports.
Before the end of the fermentation process, the must is ‘transformed’ using eau de vie. The right proportion is 155 litres of eau de vie for every 435 litres of must. Once this process is over, the port ‘rests’ so that it can gain in structure and complexity.
Port would not be port without blending. The purpose of blending is to marry the freshness of wine to the ardour of eau de vie. Wines used in Vintage Ports are indexed and listed individually. The other wines are kept for observation until it is determined how they will ultimately be used. The objective is to achieve consistent quality in terms of colour, bouquet, and taste. La Quinta Do Grifo is one of the only estates that makes both red wines and young vintage ports from a single plot, using a single varietal, touriga national. To ensure that grapes are kept in optimum condition, they are transported to the production site in insulated trucks. The wine is fermented in heat-regulated vats and then aged in wooden barrels. Aging is done in the estate's historic wooden barrels, and the Quinta's wines are aged in new French oak barrels.
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