Quinta do Vale Meão was the last great purchase of the legendary Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira. This tiny woman was widowed at the age of 33 and took over management of the large family ownings in 1844. She modernized the family’s wine estates and proved to be both a cunning and kind business woman. Her charisma and generous engagement for social projects and investments in the valley’s infrastructure won her the nickname of Ferreirinha, “the little Ferreira“. At the time of her death in, she was the largest landowner in the Douro Valley. Quinta do Vale Meão was last of her achievements: 270 hectares of barren common land purchased from the town council of Vila Nova de Foz Côa in 1877. It was the only property which was totally planted by her. It is now owned by her great-great grandson Francisco Javier de Olazabal, formerly president of the Port and Douro Wine company A.A. Ferreira, to whom the grapes of the property used to be sold. It was from this property that the legendary “Barca Velha” was sourced. In 1998 he decided to resign in order to develop its own wine-making project under the technical direction of his son, Francisco de Olazabal y Nicolau de Almeida.
The elegant century-old winery is built with granite and a chestnut roof reflecting the building materials of the region. The historical structure was respected during modernization. Investments were made in modern vinification equipment and although the old granite “lagares” are now temperature-controlled, all grapes for both port and red table wines continue to be trodden by foot.
As the Douro river was tamed and dammed in the mid 1970’s, the vineyards closes to the river were flooded and lost. “This was quite an advantageous loss,” explains Francisco de Olazabal, “for these were the worst vineyards and subsidies we received from the government allowed us to plant 22 hectares of Touriga Nacional on a prime site with rocky schist soil.” Vines now cover 80 hectares of the property, and are planted in soils of different geological nature: schist, granitic and alluvial gravel. This diversity, unusual in the Douro Region, contributes to the complexity of the wines. The vineyards are block planted with the following varieties: Touriga Nacional 40%, Tinta Roriz 30%, Touriga Francesa 15%, Tinta Amarela 5%, Tinta Barroca 5%, Tinto Cão 5%.
Wines tasted at Quinta do Vale Meão on November 2nd, 2009:
Quinta do Vale Meão Meandro 2006
This is the second wine from Quinta do Vale Meao and it looks as if it profited from declassified juice in this difficult vintage for this is really a nice juicy wine. Dar violet. Macerated plum and very ripe blackberry are supported by refreshing acid and bedded in fairly fine-grained tannins. Pleasant nuances of blasamic-drenched fruit and heather linger on the medium long finish. 88
Quinta do Vale Meão 2004
Dark violet. Bright lingonberry and black berry laced with lavender and licorice. Medium bodied and elegant with bright acid and very fine-grained tannins. Delicious fruit and dark wet slate remain on the long vibrant finish. 94
Quinta do Vale Meão 2000
Dense opaque ruby with fading violet-ruby rim. Plenty of crushed blackberry and cranberry jam with sappy licorice spice. This medium-full bodied wine is elegantly concentrated. Seamless fine-grained tannin lend a satiny mouthfeel. Floral components join anise and dark red berry on the finish. 95
Quinta Do Vale Meão Vintage Port 2007
It’s a bit early to assess a vintage port, but at this stage this shows rich, fiery fruit and a full body. Plenty of blackberry, cassis, and licorice-flavored fruit. The long finish displays abundant sweet tannin. Drink 2015 to 2030+. 90