AT A GLANCE:
Name of wine estate: Quinta do Noval
Wine region: Douro
Standout points: Fine Ports, including the stellar Naçional; magnificent old vineyard terraces in the UNESCO-recognised Douro Valley
Winemaker: Carlos Agrellos
Wine style: Red and white Ports, old tawny Ports and premium Douro table wines
To see the magnificent stone terraces which blanket the steep schist slopes shaping the course of the glittering Douro river is to see one of the world’s archetypal wine landscapes. Situated in the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and maker of the most famous of all Vintage Ports, Naçional (only 200-250 cases are made in the special years in which Noval declares a vintage), Quinta do Noval provides a window through which wine lovers can access the soul of this breathtaking region and, along the way, taste the great fortified wines which have defined it for more than three centuries.
A privileged position
With vineyards in the valleys of both the Pinhão and the Roncão tributaries of the Douro river, Noval occupies one of the most privileged positions in the valley. Its 145ha of vineyards – all classified at the highest quality level – are planted with the Douro’s noble grape varieties, Touriga Naçional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão and Sousão. In a break from the Douro tradition of mistura (mixed planting), Noval’s vineyards have been replanted in single-variety plots to suit each individual parcel of land. It’s in the blending of these components that the wines of Quinta do Noval derive their individuality and complex character.
Port to Port
With such a dizzying array of styles available, Port can often seem intimidating to the uninitiated, but any wariness melts away when one has the chance to taste these wines with expert guidance. Noval offers guided tastings, as well as private tours, every day of the year by appointment. Indeed, Port-curious visitors are spoiled for choice with not one but three Noval sites for tastings: the quinta itself, which is close to Casal de Loivos in the Douro Valley, plus two visitor centres – a newly opened one on the quays of Pinhão in the Douro and one in Vila Nova de Gaia, next-door to Porto – both fantastic places for wine lovers to visit in their own right.