I have been trying to visit the Douro Valley in Portugal for a number of years - so it was an extra special occasion when I found out that Tim Bergqvist was to be celebrating his 80th birthday while I was here.
After taking the morning train from Oporto, which winds its way along the river’s edge for nearly the entire 100+kms through to Pinhao. I made my way up to the winery and boutique retreat, and transferred my compact luggage to my room overlooking the Douro, as I was staying the night on the estate. The Bergqvist family have a distinguished Port wine history dating back to 1815 and the past twenty two years have provided an invaluable opportunity to evolve an impressive portfolio to rival any in the Douro valley of northern Portugal. A combination of determined effort, fastidious attention to detail and great winemaking skill has placed Quinta de La Rosa at the peak of Portuguese winemaking.
Quinta de La Rosa is a small estate in the heart of the Port wine-growing region in Alto Douro, in walking distance to Pinhao, owned and operated by the Bergqvist family. On my second day after breakfast - I had the great pleasure to meet with Tim Bergqvist and his wife Patricia, their son Philip with his wife and their daughter Sophia - (whom I had met several times before - pictured below).
Though during my visit, I missed to opportunity to talk with their talented winemaker Jorge Moreira, whom has steadied and directed the ship since 2002. Jorge Moreira has a considered and thoughtful approach to winemaking; by combining subtle expression and refinement, his intellectual wines offer an authentic snapshot of La Rosa's great terroir and micro-climate. Moreira is a man of understatement and comprehends how to create wines that sit comfortably on the dining table, wines of balance and harmony - wines which will age and are designed for food - my kind of wines.
The Quinta and its vineyards were given to Tim's mother as a Christening present by her parents, the Feurheerds, who established the property in 1906. Sophia’s great-grandfather Albert Feuerheerd once owned one of Porto’s biggest shipping companies but due to the economic downturn in early 1930s, he was forced to sell his company to Barros. The La Rosa estate was kept and run by Claire and her husband Eric Bergqvist, during which time (1933 to 1987) the grapes of the La Rosa estate were sold to the well-known port manufacturers Croft and Sandeman.
In 1988 the Bergqvists, led by Tim and his daughter Sophia, decided to re-launch Quinta de la Rosa, taking advantage of the change in the Port Wine regulations. These changes enabled producers to sell port direct from their estates and not via Vila Nova de Gaia near Porto.
It remains one of the few ‘Single Quintas’ where the vineyards start at the bank of the Douro and rise 450 meters to the towering top of the mountain. From the river's edge to the top, one passes through 11 different microclimates. This gives La Rosa great flexibility to add variety and complexity to its unique Port.
La Rosa is very special, in many ways they represent what the Douro is all about... pride, courage, tradition, and the determination to produce the finest product from in one of worlds' most difficult geographical and climactic conditions. Quinta de la Rosa produces small quantities of superb quality Ports and interesting red wines.
During my visit - I had the genuine pleasure to taste their fine selection of Ports and red wines, then that evening overlooking the Douro from the terrace patio - I had an unpretentious but flavoursome traditional meal matched with wines and finished off perfectly with Port and coffee. As the sunset and the dramatic angled terraces started to blend into the hillsides and the lights of Pinhao started too reached down the river towards the Estate, sitting out on the terrace with another glass of Port was a great end to a special day.
I encourage all of you to make your way to the Douro Valley, that in its self will be worth the effort (in my opinion the 8th wonder of the world), but if possible, please do all that you can to visit Quinta De La Rosa and experience a little of the history of this humble region and sample a small - but very proud family owned selection of Ports.