Quinta das Marias
Quinta das Marias is the brainchild of Swiss businessman, Peter Eckert, who fell in love with the region when visiting many years ago. He wanted to find a way to spend more time there when his retirement years came so purchased an old vineyard and set about doing something special with it. Since retraining and replanting some of the vines Marias has become a force to be reckoned with.
Marias produce both an unoaked and barrel fermented Encruzado, a rose from Jaen, small batches of pure Alfrochiero (aged in 2-3 year barriques), and red 50/50 blends from Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz, called TT alongside various other traditional blends. . The winery is small, ultra modern on one hand, but still uses traditional lagar methods for partial pre-fermentation and foot pressing on some wines. Grapes are grown around 4 tonnes per hectare for reds, with 5-5.5 tonnes for whites, but old vine Encruzado vineyards come in at much lower production levels.
Winemaking is handled by Antonio Narciso, known as ‘Narcisco.’ locally. He is highly respected for his championing of traditional lagar winemaking and prefers to use Portuguese barrels constructed with French oak, feeling they are better made.
Narcisco praises Dao’s Encruzado in Dao as perfectly suited to the region because it can ‘have 13-13.5% and still have high acidity’ and consistently produces good volume and structure. He finds typical varietal characters of ‘honey and tea leaves’ on the nose, sometimes with tropical fruit notes.
He uses low toast barrique so as to not dominate the terroir and allows 8 hour skin maceration for added flavor. Encruzado needs 1 year in bottle for barrique to marry and at home he only drinks Encruzado after it is 3 years old. Encruzado had the capacity to evolve positively over a decade or so.
View Quinta das Marias wine notes here.