Sunday Sippers: Quinta Do Crasto – A Portuguese Icon

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As the weather turns cold, I am thinking about wines I would like to be drinking right now. One of these is from Crasto. I first tried wines from Quinta do Crasto last year in the Douro Valley at a lovely restaurant. It was very modern and somewhat like New York restaurants that serve high-end small plates. The wine list was incredible.

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Our hosts decided we should try some of the iconic wine producers from the Douro that particular evening. One of the bottles we had was Crasto. It was everything I imagined it would be.

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This Douro Superior 2013 comes from the Upper Douro Valley. The grapes come from the Quinta da Cabreira vineyard where they have 114 hectares of recently planted vines. Made with a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Souzão and old vines, the wine was lovely, balanced with juicy ripe tannins and an enveloping plate of forest floor, dark berry fruit, cedar and spice. It had great length, was full bodied and had a judicious amount of oak. At 14.5% alcohol it was a great match for the pork roast we shared.

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I recently had the opportunity to taste through some other Crasto wines at the Portuguese tasting in New York in October. They were every bit as delicious as I had remembered the first one being. Full bodied and elegant, harmonious wines with great fruit, floral notes and spice. A lovely lineup, it made me what to visit this venerable estate.

The winery has been owned by the family of Leonor and Jorge Roquette for over 100 years. Crasto comes from the Latin word for fort or “castrum.” The earliest mention of the estate and its wine production dates to 1615. The Marquis of Pombal ordered the installation of 335 granite markers in 1750s. Each one is two meters high and 30 x 20 centimeters wide in order to delineate the first ever Demarcated Region in the world. Quinta do Crasto has one of these stones on their property. Quinta do Crasto was eventually bought by Constantino de Almeida. Following his death in 1923, his son Fernando Moreira d’Almeida took over the management of Quinta do Crasto and carried on producing Port wine. In 1981, Leonor Roquette, daughter of Fernando Moreira d’Almeida, together with her husband Jorge Roquette, took over majority ownership. Today, together with their sons Miguel and Tomás, the fourth generation, they run the winery and the vineyards. They decided to begin producing Douro DOC wines which are rightly celebrated.

I look forward to someday visiting this winery. The are very focused on wine tourism and tasting it seems. I think another visit to the Douro is in the cards, at least I hope so.

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