Portugal – Tasting Notes

VAN ZELLERS & CO. June 2021

Cristiano Van Zeller – the man behind Quinta do Noval and more recently Van Zellers & Co.

The story of Van Zellers & Co is long and ancient, yet this is a relatively new winery. It began as a Port Wine company in 1780, making them one of the oldest in the Douro. At one point it held a fleet of more than 27 ships, but over time the ships and the company were sold off. In 1937 great-great grandfather to the family, Luis Vasconcellos Porto, owner of legendary Quinta do Noval, rebought Van Zellers & Co. In the 1980’s, when current generational lineage head Cristiano Van Zeller was leading Quinta do Noval, Van Zellers & Co became independent from the main company. These gyrations in ownership deeply affected how the company operated, but in 2006, with the blossoming trajectory of the Douro and under the leadership of Cristiano, the company was set to be back in the business of hand crafting Porto and still red and white wines.

First came the release of VZ Douro White. Then came a few more reds and whites in the early part of 2011. Port wines reappeared later, because to truly become a port wine producer there must be a stock ageing in the cellar to have diversity of age, flavors, and aromas needed to create the complex blends of port.

By 2018 Van Zellers & Co had finally stocked itself with over 175,000 liters of tawny ports of various ages and they were ready for new life to be brought into the company. Today their focus is on hand-crafted ports and still wines, pressed by foot and cared for with delicate, experienced oversite of all aspects of the winemaking process. This was an early snapshot of the wines coming into the US market today, and I’m highly enthusiastic about the way they showed and the bright future ahead for the blossoming winery!

2018 Van Zellers & Co, Douro White (RT93) A blend of Viosinho, Ribigato, Codega & Gouveio, the grapes are destemmed and cold stored prior to being crushed, then aged for 9 months in French Oak with battonage. This is a superb, succulent white that caresses the palate with layers of bright, fresh fruit. Super floral and concentrated, this will make you smile from ear to ear! Drink now-2025

2017 Van Zellers & Co, Douro Red (RT91) A field blend of over 30 different red varieties from 30-80 year old vines and aged for 21 months in Allier French Oak. This is an exceptionally elegant and delicate wine which is as traditional, complex, and structured as Portuguese wines are renowned for. Full bodied, crisp, expressive & spicy! Drink now-2028+

Van Zellers & Co, Ruby Port (RT91) A serious, foot crushed Ruby built on a solid foundation of black cherry, blackberry liqueur, mocha and hints of baking spices. Full, round and mouth coating with deeply delicious fruit and excellent, bright acidity. This thoughtfully crafted ruby is ready to enjoy tonight and over the next 3-6+ years.

2015 Van Zellers & Co, Late Bottled Vintage Port (RT93) With its classic bouquet revealing it’s youthfulness, firm notes of blackberry, black cherry compote, orange zest and crushed gravel create the sensation of a structural fortress. Crafted from more than 25 different traditional Douro varieties, then foot crushed and aged in 100-year-old oak barrels for 42-48 months. The result is miraculous, this is an unknown gem! Drink now-2030+

Van Zellers & Co, 10 Year Tawny Port (RT94) This is a hand crafted, foot pressed, highly structured, and focused Tawny that shows great depth and elegance. Warm flavors of oranges and burnt caramel dominate with hints of elegant hazelnuts, star anise, toffee and dried apricot lead to a clean, delicious finish. Outstanding! Drink now-eternity

GEMS FROM THE AZORES ISLANDS March 2021

2018 Azores Wine Company, Arinto dos Açores Non Sur Lies (RT94+) This super nonchalant, esoteric wine is grown a mere 50 meters from the Atlantic ocean and produced in microscopic quantities with a mere 250 six packs bottled. The soils are 100% black basalt, grown in miniscule bush vine plots of 2-6 vines per square. The grape – Arinto dos Açores – is indigenous to the Azores Islands and is not related to the mainland variety of the same name. This gorgeous authentic white reveals a magnificent bouquet with layers of honey suckle, white flowers, minerals, lemon peel and honeydew, interwoven with layers of misty smoke. With time in the glass the mineral character builds momentum punctuated by a distinct salinity. The textural aspect is clean and endearing, with a mouthcoating, sappy quality accented by bright fresh fruit and vibrant acidity. As pure as the driven sea breeze! Marvelous, unadulterated winemaking by master António Maçanita. Drink now-2028+ This may blossom even longer than my suggested drinking window.

2019 Azores Wine Company, Rosé Volcânico (RT92) Another masterpiece of winemaking by António Maçanita, this unique rose is crafted from a blend of 25% Saborinho, 25% Agronomica, 25% Aragones and 25% Touriga Nacional. The result is a supple, rich Rose that expresses the minerality of its origins in 100% black basalt. The bouquet reveals whispering notes of raspberry, strawberry, fresh apricot, and honey with hints of crushed stone and tufts of smoke and ash. The mouthfeel is deliciously rich, full, and round with just enough of acidic lift to keep it fascinating. An alluring Rose that keeps you coming back for another sip! Drink now-2024+

DELICIOUS TABLE RED September 2019

2017 Quinta des Saes, Tinto, Dão DOC (RT91) A blend of 25% Tinta Roriz, 25% Touriga Naçional, 25% Alfrocheiro, 25% Jaen grown in granite-based soils at 500 meters. With its soaring aromatic profile that embraces its vineyard soils, this classic Portuguese red delivers an elegant mouthfeel with a soft, sumptuous finish. A perfect food wine for lighter fare, grilled meats, paella or cheeses! Drink 2020-2026 (Tasted June 2020)