A combination of prodigious talent and enthusiasm has resulted in iconic wines which already have an ardent following. With a masters degree in oenology, Sandra is winemaker at both Vale Dona Maria with Cristiano Van Zeller and her family home, Quinta de Chocapalha in Lisbon. Jorge, formerly winemaker at Niepoort, works on a number of new projects in the Douro as well as Quinta do Passadouro. It was clearly only a matter of time, and finding the right site, before they would set up on their own. They initially bought a wonderful, old port lodge and rebuilt the lagares (stone troughs). In the beginning they purchased fruit from selected sites in the Pinhão Valley until in 2003 they bought a spectacular vineyard, planted with ancient, 76-year-old vines, across thirty varieties.
Set in the Vale de Mendiz, the vineyard is south-facing, with a steeply-sloped two hectares of old vines. The vineyard is spectacular and presents a hugely complex yet challenging palette of aromatics. Sorting is essential and has to be absolutely ruthless. With up to thirty different varieties, maturing at different times, skills are required here which are not required in other wine-producing areas. The grapes are de-stemmed, fermented in traditional concrete lagares and foot-trodden, then the wine is transported to barrels for malolactic fermentation, in 70% new oak.