From the top of the terraces, the Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo overlooks the river and welcomes many visitors
There were brave men those who, until the 60’s, defied Douro currents in a superhuman effort, carrying in the rabelo boats heavily loaded barrels of Port, from the estates to the cellars in Gaia. But they had someone to look for them: Our Lady of Carmo.
Since of 1795, the Lady is still overlooking the river from the chapel on the top of the terraces, now ready to receive and bless those who come to discover the nectar of the World’s oldest demarcated wine region.
It was pouring rain on that day, but nothing that some good rain boots could not solve – it was actually in the vineyard that I began the visit to the estate, because that is where everything begins and the wine happens.
What a lovely vineyard and what an overwhelming view over the river! Back in time, from these vines would only originate Port wines, just like most Douro wineries. But since Quinta Nova has new owners the strategy has changed: today, these vines work to bring us to the table mainly the so-called “still wines”, of great quality.
Already in the cellar, Eduardo showed me the huge investment in technology that has been made. Seeing all that machinery, I could not resist defending human labor, arguing that the machines came to take the place of men. With some sadness, Eduardo explained that the machines simply came to replace the work that humans no longer want or can do.
Times are different; there are less and less people willing to make the traditional stomp, so technology has been a fantastic help to producers.
But there is something about Quinta Nova that remains the same as it used to be. There are still three references of Port wine, which rests for several years in sealed waxed barrels – just like you keep a treasure!
Then I got back to the warmth of the store and the tasting room. Once again with Douro river in sight, I have tasted three wines that, on request, can be accompanied by cheeses, chouriço and other snacks.
I tasted the white Pomares – creamy in the mouth and with tropical fruits marked well – and the reds Grainha Reserva and Quinta Nova Reserva – both produced from the traditional varieties of the Douro, with aromas of ripe fruit giving them a good complexity. Great appetizer for the lunch that followed!
Next to the chapel is the Conceitus Winery Restaurant, open all year.
The menu is based on local and seasonal products. Every day two tasting menus, based on with traditional dishes, are prepared in which each delicacy is accompanied by a carefully selected Quinta Nova wine by the Chef.
Just to leave you with mouth watering: the menu of that rainy day suggested chestnut soup, roasted pork shank and tarte tatin for desert…
The Quinta Nova Luxury Winery House also has accommodation, but, unfortunately for me and lucky hotel, the rooms were fully booked.
I felt like returning, perhaps on a day when the sun seems less timid, and I can walk again through the gardens of the estate – always surprised by the intense green of the vineyards of Douro.