Quinta dos Roques & Quinta das Maias
Wine-maker Luis Lourenco
Although coming from outside the wine business and the region, Luis Lourenco is one of Dao's most passionate promoters globally as well a great innovator and modern-era pioneer. Over the last three decades both Quinta dos Roques and Maias have pushed many traditional boundaries while at the same time remaining deeply loyal to the region’s traditional grape varieties and their native terroir.
Since the early 1990s his team (now under his son Luis's guidance) have systematically pulled apart Dao’s traditional white and red grape blends, producing single varietal bottlings of Tinta Cao, Jaen, Alfrocheiro, Verdelho, Encruzado, etc... in order to understand and re-evaluate each grape's potential. From this exercise, Luis and his team have come to understand these grapes have clear preferences for the differing climates and terroir that define his two properties two main estates, Quinta das Maias and Quinta dos Roques. His wide-ranging portfolio offers the novice an excellent opportunity to understand each grape's signature characteristics and what they contribute with Dao's multi-grape blends.
One of pet projects has focused on the early maturing Verdelho grape, now identified as Douro's Gouveio. Although an approved grape in Dao, few have bottled it on its own. Once again, Lourenco was early in mapping out new territory. Results indicated Verdelho changed so radically in bottle from year to year that it’s been difficult to define its fruit characters. Early on “mineral and citrus” characters shine, then over time fruit developed more “yellow peach”) with it's evolution and long term aging potential yet to be defined.
Luis offers insightful comments on Encruzado as well. Generally speaking, Encruzado vines yield few grapes, which creates a highly concentrated wine. In his experience, the grape has fairly “unnatural behavior, because when alcohol goes up, the acidity goes up as well.” This is contradictory behavior in grapes. In fact, the “highest acidity was in the ultra hot year, 2003, which produced 13.8% alcohol and 7 grams total acidity.” After bottling, Encruzad “tends to be dominated by oak for its first 2 months, then the fruit comes back.” He believes it “needs a long time in bottle to show its best,” His own 2001 drank beautifully for many years and the 2005 was just hitting its stride seven years after bottling.
Luis has a strong commitment to two of Dao's most underated grape varieiteis: Jaen and Alfrocheiro. At Quinta dos Roques, Jaen harvests 2 weeks earlier than Touriga. He uses oak only to soften Jaen's tannins, not as a flavorant. Alfrocheiro also has firm tannins, but doesn't like barrels because oak kills off its delicate aromas and flavors. Of Dao's main grapes, Luis believes only Touriga Nacional seems to like new oak.
View Quinta dos Roques and Quinta das Maias wine notes here