Casa Ferreirinha, the Douro producer behind the iconic Barca Velha label, brought an impressive vertical flight of its Quinta da Leda wines to London yesterday. The flight consisted of selected vintages, starting with the first ever produced, in 1997, and finishing with the as-yet-unreleased 2014.
The Quinta da Leda vineyard has its origins in 1979, when 25ha of indigenous grapes were planted on the site. The wines were originally used for other Casa Ferreirinha wines, including the iconic Barca Velha, but in 1997 a dedicated Quinta da Leda wine was created. The vineyard now has 160ha under vine, and still contributes to other Ferreirinha wines.
Unlike Barca Velha, there's a release of Quinta da Leda every year, with the latter created to be ready to drink sooner. 'We didn't want to change Barca Velha, so started something similar,' winemaker Luis Sottomayor told Imbibe. 'The grapes for Quinta da Leda have balance and harmony, but not the same as those that go into Barca Velha, so their evolution is different.'
Quinta da Leda's blend changes from one year to the next, but usually includes Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz, among others. 'We blend from the beginning - even during fermentation,' said Sottomayor. 'If the wines are born together their harmony is better.'
Yesterday's tasting, arranged by Sogrape UK, the Portuguese winery's agent in the UK, showed 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2014. The older wines were still remarkably vibrant, with deep red fruit and liquorice notes. While they're ready to drink early, these undoubtedly have the capacity to age. The younger wines were rich and complex, with more noticeable oak, but generally rounded, silky tannins.
The 2014 is likely to be released later in the year. 'The 2013 went to market too soon, but now it's wonderful,' explained Sottomayor. 'The 2014 still needs some time in bottle.'
The 2011 and 2013 vintages are currently available in the UK through Sogrape UK.