For almost three centuries, it was common practice for port shippers to buy wines made by the thousands of small producers in the region. Graham’s was one of the first major shippers in the 19th century to buy their own quinta, Quinta dos Malvedos, in order to ensure the quality of grapes and wines produced under their own name, whilst still continuing to buy in wines from selected small producers. The wines bought in were all made in very traditional ways, including treading by foot, right up until the 1970s.
In the late 20th century, as shippers became more focussed on quality control and invested in their own wineries, the practice shifted to buying in the grapes, rather than finished wines, so the shipper could control the vinification process to best suit their own requirements and style.
At Graham’s, we now have five quintas from which to source our grapes, and the wineries to vinify them all ourselves, however we continue to work with over 200 small farmers in the region, most of whom bring us their grapes.
One of the exceptions to this rule is Senhor Albino, who has a quinta in the Riba Longa, an area east of Tua which has an outstanding microclimate, recognised for hundreds of years for the quality of its grapes and its wines. Like many of his generation, Sr Albino emigrated from Portugal as a young man to find work, and returned when he retired, to settle here in the Douro and make wine. Unusually, he has quite a large holding, almost 40 hectares, of which 10 was recently re-planted with Touriga Nacional.
Sr Albino’s vines are very good, and the location is one of the best in the Riba Longa area. In recent years he has invested heavily in his winemaking equipment, and takes meticulous care of it all. During the year our viticulturist is often at Sr Albino’s quinta, discussing all aspects of his vineyard and helping him with advice and suggestions. We provide him with the aguardente (grape brandy) for the fortification during harvest. Charles will also stop by to say hello often through the year and see how the season is progressing. Here, Sr Albino has just opened a tonel, ready to receive his 2010 wines, and Charles was very pleased with the scent, always an important indication of good hygiene in wooden vats.
Sr Albino makes excellent wines and we are pleased to buy them. His wines will become part of Graham’s stock of lotes for blending into our premium port wines. In this way, Graham’s maintains a great old tradition and sources some fantastic wines.