Contrarily to what my friends say, my job is not always easy. I work hard throughout the year, but the harvest is by far the most challenging. Sleeping is cut to a minimum, and at the end of the harvest, I’ll be thinner by three or four kgs. That’s hard to avoid, but I love my job. And sometimes, I feel sweetly rewarded for what I do. One of those rewards came in the liquid form from a family with a long history in the Port wine business. Maybe a few of you have already heard about Villar d’Allen, but if I mentioned the vineyard this family owned back in the XIX century, you will all know it instantaneously: Quinta do Noval.
My friend, Ryan Opaz, from Catavino is an old family friend of the Allens and made formal introductions between us a few months ago. Having met the Allens at their family estate in Porto, I was shocked by their long and detailed past. Enclosed within ancient walls, their estate holds an incredible amount of untold history not only of their family, but of the Douro and Port Wine. Any wine romantic or historian would be equally impressed once visited Villar d’Allen and heard from José Alberto the stories of his ancestors.
A few week ago, I was honored by an invitation to dine at their house. Walking through the living-room, and the corridors, I felt like I was traveling back 200 years in time, visiting the heart of a British family committed to Port Wine. Then, I went to see the cellar, and in all honesty, I could not believe what I was seeing. A collection of very old bottles from the family archives, some dating back to the beginning of the XIX century. All of the bottles were standing. Not one ancient relic was laying down! Why? Because the family believes Port ages better if it is not in contact with the cork.
And to finish the night, José Alberto grabbed from the cellar a bottle of 1827 Quinta do Noval. When took in my very first breathe of this wine, my hands were shaking, I felt like I was tasting ancient history. This was the live legacy of a family with a incredible past and that hopefully, will continue with the family tradition of bottling and shipping Port well into the future. If you visit Porto, make sure you find some time to o to the Villar d’Allen’s house. I can assure you won’t regret! More photos from Villar d’Allen.
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