February 16, 2010

"Revista de Vinhos" Top Wines of Portugal

Quinta da Gricha 2007 Douro was rated by the Revista de Vinhos as one of the Top 34 Portuguese wines tasted in 2009. It received the prize of Excellency only given to wines of extraordinary quality.
Our Churchill Estates Grande Reserva 2007 Douro was rated as one of the best wines of the Douro Region.
For further details go to www.revistadevinhos.iol.pt/

January 24, 2010

Quinta da Gricha

Quinta da Gricha 2007 has just been rated as the "Best Old World Wine" by Stephen Spurrier in the Feb 2010 edition of Decanter.

2010 promises to be an exciting year at Quinta da Gricha; not only are we completing the new planting of 15 hectares of vineyard, but we also hope to start on the restoration of the house and the supporting infrastructure of outlying buildings. This will include the conversion of the old "cardenhos" into a lab and tasting room.

The new vineyards are licensed to grow Douro wine and we are concentrating on planting more Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca to increase the total percentage of these grape varieties in the overall vineyard to 40% and 25% respectively.

January 06, 2010

Touriga Nacional

One of my New Year's resolutions is to get blogging again, and my apologies to those of you who have noticed my absence!

Once again a Churchill's Douro wine was in the Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of the Year. This time it was our recently launched Churchill Estates Touriga Nacional 2007.

I am delighted that the Wine Spectator panel selected this wine, as it comes from a vineyard we planted with Touriga Nacional at Quinta da Gricha shortly after we bought the property in 1999. We are now in the process of planting a further 15 hectares of Touriga Nacional at Gricha so it is good timing to recieve this acknowledgement and very rewarding to have our efforts appreciated.

Touriga Nacional has become such an emblematic grape variety for the "New Douro". It was always prized by Port producers but, being a low yielder, was never favoured by the farmers. Now that vineyard owners are marketing their own wines, Touriga Nacional is receiving the attention it deserves in the vineyard. These small, tightly-knit grapes are reminiscent of Cabernet Sauvignon and produce an intense violet coloured wine with a distinctive nose of sweet basil and a fine, well structured body.

Quinta da Gricha, with its North-facing vineyard produces a very vinous, fresh style of wine which is evident in this Churchill Estates Touriga Nacional 2007. It is a chunky wine with a soft velvety palate and plenty of natural acidity - very drinkable now but will age well for another few years.

September 26, 2009

2009 Douro Vintage

This is my 37th Douro vintage and I don't remember seeing sugar readings quite so high ever before! We buy grapes from a small traditional vineyard in the Caedo valley and the lagar this year registered 19.25º beaumé or 20.8% of potential natural alchohol! No wonder our ancestors struggled with the problems of residual sugar!

We have had hot, dry weather since the beginning of the second week of August and now at the end of September the heat continues! Apart from one late afternoon thunderstorm when the heavens opened for an hour we have had not a drop of rain throughout the vintage.

With the lack of moisture, most grapes have shrivelled-up turning to raisins but the pips and stems have remained surprisingly green indicating that the phenolic maturation has been incomplete. Consequently although sugar readings have soared, there remains an immaturity of green tanins.

It has been a year favouring the cooler, higher altitude vineyards and the deep-rooted old vines whose tap roots can often go down 20 metres in search of moisture. It has also been a good year for the Touriga Nacional grape variety whose small tough-skinned grapes have withstood the heat better than some of the more delicate varieties.

Here at Churchill's we have concentrated in sourcing our grape purchases on this basis; over and above our own production from Quinta da Gricha and Quinta do Rio we have contracted grapes from either old vineyards or higher altitude Touriga Nacional vineyards.

So far I am pleased with the results. Our Douro wines have wonderful violet hues and a freshness and acidity which is surprising for such a year. Our ports are deep coloured and have excellent tannic qualities on the finish.

September 07, 2009

2009 vintage

We were beginning to forget how hot the Douro can become in the summer! A heatwave hit the region during the 2nd week of August and daytime temperatures here at Quinta da Gricha have remained close to 40ºC in the shade during the past month. The nights have also remained very warm so there has been no early morning dew to provide moisture for the grapes. As a result sugar levels have jumped but without the accompanying phenolic maturation. Altitude and grape variety selection will play an important role in Douro wine production this year. I think the higher altitude vineyards will produce better balanced wines this year and it will be important to include grape varieties with low alcohol and good acidity such as Touriga Franca in the blend. The challenge will be to make elegant wines with freshness and good acidity.

We are experimenting with white wine this year! Possibly not the ideal year for a Douro white wine, I hear you say! but, despite the hot climatic conditions, I am delighted with the natural acidity of the grapes. We have selected the Viosinho and Rabigato grape varieties from high altitude vineyards in the Murça and Carrazeda regions. So far so good. We have two tanks currently at 10ºC which have been decanted prior to inoculation... so watch this space.....

July 16, 2009

New design for our Douro Wines

We have redesigned our Douro wine labels to depict aerial views of the terrace contours of our Douro vineyards. These striking new labels will help to reinforce the identity of our Churchill Estates brand.

With the launch of the 2007 vintage we are extending our Churchill Estates brand to include a Reserva, a single varietal Touriga Nacional and a Grande Reserva. These wines will be released in September.

June 24, 2009


It is always a pleasure to visit Bordeaux and this year Vinexpo has been less hectic than usual giving one time to taste around!
I was able to taste a comprehensive range of 2008 Bordeaux Grand Crus. It was interesting to note that the style of the 2008 year for Bordeaux wines is similar to the Douro; elegant wines with excellent acidity, light in structure but with good definition and a tannic finish. The better wines are the riper ones which have more of a middle palate that helps to balance out the acidity.