Step by Step

Step by Step

The new Quinta do Espinho project started nearly 30 years ago. Located at the mouth of the Távora with the left bank of the Douro, the vineyard and wine-producing property are now entering a new chapter, one that asserts its modern take on a traditional style of Douro wine production.

In 1985 one of the branches of the Macedo Pinto family tree decided to implement a recovery plan for Quinta do Espinho. Over 30 years have passed and, since then, much has changed, and for the better. Instead of the old terraces (“Patamares”) that died out and were abandoned during Phylloxera, we can see modern “Patamares”, planted with the most suitable single grape variety plots.

Besides the vineyard quality, the daily life of the farm is based on the principles of sustainable management, the maintenance of corridors of ecological compensation and increase of biodiversity, orchard areas, orchards and weeds.

Nowadays, all our wine is vinified in our own cellar (recovered and restored to the image of the original 18th century), using the most modern wine technologies, under the expert eye of our winemaker.

This is a project that still has a way to go, thus investing in the next generation is vital for the long-term prosperity of the Quinta do Espinho. Both generations think confidently that the past investments in grapes, “terroir”, and enology and viticulture practices, now reflects the wine quality, full of Douro’s characteristic profile of richness and complexity, and that the key strategy to its success is to foster synergies with external entities and other producers.

That’s the new challenge!

Six Generations

Six Generations

Counted in in the first world wine region officially laid out in 1757, by order of the Marquis de Pombal, Portugal’s Prime Minister in 1756, Quinta do Espinho is now owned by brothers Joaquim and Alberto, from Tabuaço’s Macedo Pinto family.

The Macedo Pinto family relationship with “shipping wine”, as Port Wines were called, dates from at least the seventeenth century. Their farms extended along the banks of the river Távora, from Douro to Tabuaço. They were said to be the “best and most extensive areas of vineyard in Portugal; few can be compared abroad” (1).

Over generations, particularly esteemed is the memory of Grandfather Victor de Macedo Pinto. Born in 1869, he was a physician, a proprietor and a distinguished Republican. He was President of the Municipality of Tabuaço, deputy to the National Constituent Assembly of 1911, President of the Chamber of Deputies and Minister of the Navy. And he played an import role as one of the most energetic champions for the improvement of social and cultural benefits intrinsically linked to the economic activities of Port wine production in the Douro valley.

He signed the Manifesto of November 1890 (in the aftermath of the English Ultimatum (2), and leading the Douro Paladinos (champions) of the Alto Douro movement (1910) and the regional movement of protection of Porto and Douro denomination. He was also the first to sustain the need to regulate Douro table wines.

(1) (PINHO LEAL, Augusto Soares d’Azevedo Barbosa de, Ancient and Modern Portugal, Lisbon, Livraria Editora Tavares Cardoso & Irmão, 2006 [1873], volume 9, pp. 466-475)


Harvest 2016

Harvest 2016

Quinta do Espinho wine making process extends from the selection and carriage of grapes to the winery in containers of up to 25-kg (55 lbs.) to ensure that they are kept in perfect condition, to their evaluation on arrival to the winery, and inspection on sorting tables before being de-stemmed, placed in thigh-deep granite treading tanks (known as “Lagares”) or stainless steel tanks to threading and mechanical extraction. Under temperature control, fermentation takes place for up to 7 days. After the primary fermentation of red grapes, the free run wine is pumped off into stainless tanks and the skins are gently pressed to extract the remaining juice.

In small quantities, high-quality wine brandy (Aguardente) is produced with the leftover grape pomace.

Natural features of our “terroir”, strengthened by our decision of maintaining bush edges, orchard and forestry production areas, are fully expressed in our wine, olive oil and honey.

Time of harvest (vintage) decision is taken just days ahead of its start

Grapes maturity condition is evaluated against a set of regulated quality parameters (determined primarily by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels) that ensure the production of high quality wine. The abovementioned parameters differ according to several terroir factors (berry size, grape yield.

Food-grade plastic harvest bins are made available along the vineyard for onward transportation

In preparation for harvesting by hand, design-smart agricultural containers of up to 25-kg (55 lbs.) are placed along the vine lines, in a long and meticulously planned job. Later, the containers of grapes are brought back to the cool stone buildings of the “adega” (winery) on a flatbed truck.
In the old days, working hours from sunrise to sunset, men carried the grapes in 70-kg (150 lbs.) wicker baskets on their backs, across “patamares” (terraces).
50-kg (110 lbs.) deep woven wicker baskets were used in the old days, carried on the back by laborers along the !patamares”.

Quinta do Espinho grapes being harvested into a plastic bucket.

Grape picking is all done by hand, after what they’re carefully put into buckets and plastic containers. Mechanical harvesting along “patamares” is virtually impossible. Besides, hand-picking grapes allow for the knowledge and discernment of the worker to pick only healthy bunches and the gentler handling of the grapes.

Grapes are put into small plastic containers, which have a lot of aeration holes, so that grapes will not be crushed by their own weight and that that they do not get hot (or the wine will start to ferment naturally in the vineyard).
Containers are pulled into the shade once they’re full, awaiting the tractor to pull the final load into the cellar.
Transport to the winery by tractor with containers designed for grapes protection and easier stacking.

Tinta Roriz (“tempranillo”) waiting for inspection (to make sure no foliage goes into the wine)

Grapes are to be gently de-stemmed in order to keep each individual grape as intact as possible. For this, it is important that they spend as little time as possible out in the vineyard once they have been picked.

Wine fermenting under a cap of skins in its fermentation vessel (shallow stone “lagar” in Quinta do Espinho)

We favor the combination of the traditional method of winemaking and temperature control, in “lagares” with the most modern winemaking and maturation technology. Under temperature control, fermentation takes place for up to 7 days, after what the product is transferred to stainless-inox containers with thermoregulation. Our wines reflect the investments made in the recovery of the old “lagares” and a state-of-the-art winery.

Like so many times in the past, years of lower productivity may lead to exceptional wines. We believe 2016 to be one of these!


February we were really busy pruning at Quinta do Espinho.

The pruning is an important task on the vineyard and is the cutting of branches and preview that this brunches don´t grow wild.

These control cutting of the leaves will allow cutting the cane and two shoots where the canes will grow and become two new branches

It helps the balance between the vegetative and productive functions of the grapevine, as it limits the number of shoots and brunches to be developed. From all the tasks in the vineyard, pruning is the one  that have more impact on the quantity and quality of the wine production.

Pruning may differ according to the characteristics of the different grape varieties. Lately we are going back to the pruning traditional system the Guyote, where we have “vinha de tinta Francisca” example.

On the replanting of the vineyard side, this year was small, did not reach the 2% of the forty five thousand strains of the farm.

The replanting was mainly due to the decline of very old vines and lower maturity of others.

Our stars of the week

Our stars of the week

The results from the 11th edition of the Sommelier Wine Awards are out and we are winners!

In this edition there were tasted around 3000 wines and there were 120 on-trade companies applying. This competition has the difference of being judge by the on-trade, for the on-trade.

The wines are tasted blind and by category, with a strict rule of price/quality.

Our stars are the Quinta do Espinho Colheita 2013 and Quinta do Espinho Reserva 2011 with a Gold and Bronze medal accordingly.

The Quinta do Espinho Colheita 2013

Is Produced with the traditional Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca grape varieties. Partially aged in French oak barrels for 6 months.The judges comments were:

“Spring Restaurant’s Antoine Cabre enjoyed this Gold winner’s ‘lovely, attractive nose with nice freshness, a sharp attack but fresh and fruity character, and well-balanced spices’, while team leader Annette Scarfe MW also found it ‘juicy and spicy, with a warming finish but soft and structured, ripe tannins’. Cavalry & Guards Club’s Andre Luis Martins found ‘rich cherry notes with some meaty character, too’, while team leader Lionel Periner recommended this be paired with duck.”

The Quinta do Espinho Reserve 2011

This wine is produced with Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz. Aged in French oak barrels of 500L during 12 months. The judge comments were:

A ‘lovely example’, began team leader Annette Scarfe MW, who found ‘ripe black and red fruits with soft, ripe tannins and a juicy mid-palate’, while Spring Restaurant’s Antoine Cabre highlighted ‘lovely pepper and berries, and a good, complex palate style’.

Thank you to Portuguese Fine Wine Co, they sell our wines in the UK market and have been doing an amazing work.