So, you've probably heard of the 1855 classification of Bordeaux, which created a tiered system to indicate the expected quality of offerings from each estate and vineyard. What you've probably never heard of is a similar classification which took place in Portugal in 1761. And if you spend any time in Portugal, history will greatly inform your experience of the cities, as it's all too easy to miss the details when you don't know what you're looking for. After the earthquake of 1755 that destroyed Lisbon, the Marquis de Pombal, Portugal's ruler, needed to increase revenues from Porto to rebuild the city. Porto, where the port houses were producing wines from the grapes that flowed down the Douro River from the valley, was already a massive success in the wine world. Port wines were well-established and highly coveted across the UK, which was the biggest purchaser and consumer at the time. And so began a massive undertaking of demarcating regions with "Pombalinos" to codify the best parcels of land and indicate the highest quality of wines produced. Only one parcel received 3 "Pombalinos" for the production of Vinho de Feitoria, or "real" Port wine, and that was Quinta da Pedra Alta. The stone markers still stand today outside the entrance to the estate with the engravings "Feitoria 1761" still visible. And just like you would miss so many details walking through Lisbon if you didn't know what you were looking for, you probably didn't know the 3 "Pombalinos" were marked on the top right corner of the label.
Today, the estate is composed of 35ha of steep, terraced vineyards - much like the rest of the wineries in the Douro Valley. Only indigenous Portuguese grapes are grown and used in the production of wine, with the 2019 Tinto composed of a blend of 54% Touriga Nacional, 26% Touriga Franca, 18% Tinta Barroca and 2% Sousão. Grapes are still crushed by foot treading and the wine is aged in stainless steel tanks and older French barriques.
The Tinto is a classic full-bodied Portuguese red with bold, spicy tones on the nose alongside big, ripe dark fruit notes like black currant and black plums, some strawberry and a hint of baking spice. On the palate, the dark fruits appear again along with a complex intermingling of dried fruit, tobacco, vanilla, mocha and savoury anise. Full-flavoured, approachable and fruit-driven with beautiful pillowy tannins, moderate acidity and a long, smooth finish.
Recommended to be served at cellar temperature (around 14-15C) and decanted gently an hour ahead. Perfect with grilled lamb, roast beef, hamburgers or braised veal dishes.