Wines such as Quinta Vale D. Maria Vinha Francisca demonstrate that the Douro is capable of producing wines of exceptional freshness, maintaining body, balance, elegance and intense aromas.
2017 was characterized by an extremely dry and hot year. The vegetative cycle was significantly fast, anticipating the harvest to the earliest date ever in our winemaking memory. We started picking white grapes on the 21st August and on August 26th we picked the first red grapes. In 2017 there was not much precipitation. During the months of June, July and August there were very high temperatures, which led to a hydric thermal and luminous stress, which conditioned the production of the vine. Nonetheless, there was an increase in production compared to 2016, even if not to the degree initially anticipated in the early part of the vegetative cycle. At the sorting table, there was very little fruit rejection, since 2017 was a year of very good phytosanitary conditions. Concentration in the berries, heat and lack of water during the maturation period, accelerated the ripening of the berries, resulting in musts of great complexity and quality.
Grape Origins: In 2004, the year of Cristiano van Zeller’s daughter Francisca’s 18th birthday, a new vineyard was planted with Sousão (50%), Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Francisca and Rufete. With a total of 4.5 hectares, Vinha da Francisca faces mainly South and South East.
Vinification and ageing: All grapes are hand-picked and carefully selected at the sorting table before being destemmed and placed into the granite stone lagares. All grapes are foot trodden in the granite lagares. They will then ferment in lagares or in stainless steel tanks for 7 to 10 days with a temperature between 22ºC to 27ºC. Wines in lagar will have foot treading every night, whilst the stainless-steel tanks will undergo manual pump-overs. We then rack the resulting wines in new Allier French oak 225L casks from various coopers (Seguin Moreau, François Frères, Taransaud, Nadalie and Berthomieu), where they go through malolactic fermentation during 21 months in 50% new French oak barrels. The final selection of barrels and the composition of the blend takes place about a month before bottling.
Tasting Notes: 2017 is clearly a year of powerfully fruity wines, and Quinta Vale D. Maria Vinha da Francisca is no exception. It has a fine concentration, great structure, whilst still maintaining its finesse, characteristically present in this wine. It has nuances of mature red fruits, very pure together with smokey notes. It is mineral, with a creamy feel, whilst still maintaining freshness. A long and elegant finish shows us that this wine is ready to drink but will also age beautifully in bottle.
Ideally paired with meat dishes and some oven baked fish. Our favorite to pair with mushroom dishes, whether it is risotto, pasta or pizza. Delicious with cheeses, due to its great freshness and smooth tannins, particularly cow milk cheeses.