On my recent trip to the Douro Valley, I was amazed at the breadth and diversity of producers. Some with new wineries others with generations of history and port barrels behind them. One of the men behind this winery in Freixo de Espada à Cinta in the Upper Douro Valley, reminded me of an American from the Silicon Valley. Unexpected deep in the Douro where this winery is located. Pedro Martins was on fire when we met him late in the evening. His father-in-law Manuel Caldeira created this estate and has long worked the lands in this area of the Douro while Pedro was born in Porto. The Douro river runs East to West from Spain through Northern Portugal. The valley is split into three regions and Castelares is in the most remote part of the Douro and closer to Spain than the others that we visited. Castelares also has a well-known winemaker, Rui Roboredo Madeira.
A lot of money went into making Quinta Dos Castelares what it is today and this young and driven man wants to make sure that his father in law recoups the investments made quickly. At Quinta de Castelares, they try to make the most of the differences in altitudes and sun exposure in their various vineyards. The white grape varieties are planted in the higher and cooler areas, facing North/Northeast while the reds are mostly planted at vineyards closer to the riverbank. The climate in the Upper Douro is a hot and dry Mediterranean one with harsh winters, hot summers and little rain. Soils are mainly schist and stones.
The produce a variety of whites and reds, my favorite was the 2014 Douro Valley tinto made from a blend of traditional grapes that included Touriga National, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. Pedro said they have a very large market in Brazil and he hopes to do the same in the states.
One of the things that I found so interesting on this trip was how different people were at each winery, their grapes, their aspirations, their outlook and presentations.
Another part of the trip that was interesting was traveling with one American sommelier/Chef and three Polish journalists. Our outlooks and our palates at times intersected and at times diverged completely.
The location of this winery was spectacular and the night we arrived we were treated to a fabulous sunset. On press trips, the order of your visits can at times influence one’s view of the winery I think. What was great on this particular press trip was that the wineries were all so diverse that one was constantly learning a new way of looking at the region.
Castelares will be a name to watch in America I am sure as the wines are bold, clean and mostly ready to drink. They will appeal to the millennial consumer in my view and that is just what this owner is looking to do, pitch to his generation.