One of the five quintas in the blend of Graham’s ports is Quinta das Lages, deep in the Rio Torto valley, which has been supplying grapes to Graham’s for almost 90 years. For as long as Ports have been made this valley has been renowned for the quality of its wines. Blessed with a microclimate that encourages a long slow ripening period, the steep, twisted valley runs south from the Douro just downriver from Pinhão.
The altitude at Lages runs from 120 metres up to 400, and with patamares wrapped around a steep hillside the exposure varies from north to south east facing, so it is a dramatic quinta. Fully a third of its vineyards are planted with mixed vines, and of the single-varietal parcels, 22% are Touriga Franca and almost 17% Touriga Nacional, along with smaller plantings of Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Cão. Half the vines have an average age of 30 years, and the Lages wines show all the intensity and complexity of mature vines, as well as the elegance that comes from higher, airier exposures and a uniquely distinct violet aroma.
The viticulturist with direct responsibility for Lages year round is Paulo Macedo, but during harvest he turns winemaker and runs the winery at Graham’s Quinta do Tua, so Pedro Leal de Costa, SFE’s head viticulturist, visits regularly to monitor the condition of the grapes and plan the picking order together with Sr António, the caseiro.
The harvest team had just finished the Tinta Cão on Sunday and yesterday they began picking one of the mixed vine parcels, which covers a precipitous hill side. It was another spectacular day in the Douro, with cloudless blue skies and brilliant warm sunshine.
Pedro and Sr. António are pleased with the grapes and the progress so far, but true to form it appears they will not finish the picking at Lages until almost a week after most of Graham’s riverside properties have been completed. Luckily the weather outlook continues favourable, so we can look forward to great wines from this marvellous quinta.