A quick look at the website quintamariaizabel.com and a taste of anything produced here is enough to convince us to include this relative newcomer to the Douro wine scene on our next tour of the region.
The consultant winemaker is none other than Dirk Niepoort and the wine estate is an investment of João Carlos Paes Mendonça, a prominent Portuguese businessman with extensive interests in Brazil. Money, it seems, has been no object here.
The first vintage I could trace was 2013, but these are old vines and all is in place for the winery to join the ranks of the Douro’s most-respected producers.
Apolónia did have a few bottles of their top-shelf red, Reserva da Princesa 2013, costing in excess of €50, but it sold out fast. They currently carry the white, costing €46.95, which I have yet to try, but Dirk Niepoort, so I am told, considers it to be one of the best Douro whites out there.
I have, however, tried the white Quinta Maria Izabel 2015 (€21.95) and the mainstream label Maria Izabel Rosé 2016, costing €15.95. Quinta Maria Izabel white is made from a field blend of traditional old vine Douro varieties: Rabigato, Códega, Viosinho, Arinto and others. Fermented and aged 90% in French oak and 10% in steel, this is a white with real structure and body. The oak is present on the nose, mingling with tropical fruit notes. In the mouth, the wine has great minerality and solid acidity. This is a white well worth laying down for a few years.
The rosé is quite unusual but nonetheless impressive. A little darker in colour than the current pale pink trend, made from the traditional Port grapes Tinta Roriz and Tinta Francisca. This is a gastronomic rosé, with full-on floral and young red fruit notes on the nose, dry in the mouth with quite some structure and a long clean finish – €15.95 at Apolónia.
By Patrick Stuart