Quinta do Seixo in the Douro valley is a place of timeless beauty. Here’s how Henry Vizetelly described it in his book “Facts about Port and Madeira,” published in 1880:
“It occupies the spurs and slopes of a mountain, one side of which bounds the Douro, and the other the Rio Torto valley. Scattered over the heights above are the white cottages of the village of Valença, the vineyards of which produce a considerable quantity of first-class wine. The buildings of the Quinta do Seixo , which is entered through an imposing gateway, surmounted by the armorial bearings of its owner, are very extensive. The casa is both commodious and well arranged, and has a certain air of pretension about it, while the lagares and the adega are on a scale proportionate to the extent of the surrounding vineyard.”
This description remains remarkably apt. The main house still offers spectacular views of the surrounding vineyards, some of which are centenarian. But Vizetelly would be amazed to see that inside the traditional building, there’s a state-of-the-art winery.
Our guide explained what makes the Douro different: the stone terraces built to support the vines, the “field blends” made from varietals planted together in the vineyards, the poor soils that force the plants to struggle, making the berries small but full of flavor, and the methods used to produce tawnies, vintages, and late-bottled vintages.
She also told us about Georges Sandeman, the Scottish merchant who founded Sandeman in 1790. The company quickly became the largest port-wine shipper. Its mysterious logo, created in 1928, was inspired by its two product lines: ports from Portugal and sherries from Spain. It is a silhouette of a man wearing a Spanish hat and dressed in the cloak used by students in Coimbra, Portugal’s oldest university.
At the end of the tour, we tasted four wines—first, a harmonious white Vinha Grande with fine tannins and a pleasing acidity. Then, an exuberant red Callabriga made with grapes from the Callabriga hill, which was originally planted by the Romans. Next, a delicious 2019 Vintage Port from Quinta do Seixo that tastes even better with a view of the vines that produced it. And, finally, a great Sandeman Vau port wine from the 1999 vintage.
A visit to Quinta do Seixo is a delightful introduction to the wonders of the Douro valley.
Click here for Quinta do Seixo’s website.