Being asked to list my top 10 single quinta Ports is nearly as daunting as the prospect of having to choose my favourite tracks for Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. With all the dramatic twists and turns of the Douro river and its tributaries, there are so many captivating properties: some prominent, others hidden. Some are tiny holdings (either subsistence- or hobby-farmed), others are more stately, and none more so than Quinta do Vesúvio in the Douro Superior that covers over 300ha.
The focus for this article is single quinta vintage Port (SQVP), but if the growing category of unfortified Douro wines were brought into the equation, I would have picked a different top 10 with some equally enchanting estates, such as Quinta do Vallado, Quinta do Crasto, Quinta do Vale Meão and Ferreira’s Quinta da Leda – all certain to be on my shortlist in that case.
Some of the properties below (such as Quinta do Noval, Quinta de la Rosa and Quinta do Vesúvio) have become shippers in their own right, producing a range of wines (both Port and Douro) as well as a Single Quinta Vintage Port nearly every year. Others are an important part of larger shippers such as Graham’s, Sandeman or Taylor’s, and in declared years their output contributes to their house vintage Port blends.
It goes almost without saying that all of these vineyards are registered Grade ‘A’ in the official classification system that determines how much Port each property can make in any one year.
At the time of writing, the Douro has just experienced one of its hottest years on record. After a succession of hot years (and looming climate change), it remains to be seen whether altitude may become an advantage in years to come (higher elevations being an adverse factor in the present classification system).