Quinta Do Pessegueiro: In Conversation with Winemaker João Nicolau de Almeida
Portugal has been producing wine for more than 2,000 years but for most of that time only bottling Port. The modern inclusion of still wines has led to a careful balancing act between respecting the old and pioneering the new. From a long lineage of Douro winemaking greats, João Nicolau de Almeida practices this balance with natural intuition. His father liked to joke that his children were born with a small percentage of alcohol already in their blood. Douro winemaking is truly in his DNA.
“When I make decisions about the wine, I often don’t know where they come from,” João told us, “of course, they come from science, from study, knowledge. But I feel they also come from the things I learned when I was little that I don’t even remember learning.”
Schist soil in the region allows the vines to dig deep and gain vital nutrients to weather the extreme differences in temperature throughout the year. With a steep 200-some meter difference between the river and the top of the Quinta, there can be nearly a month’s difference in harvest times depending on where you are in the vineyard. Hand-harvesting and partnerships with horses are an essential part of life in this unique vineyard.
Sustainability is a top priority, from rejecting the use of chemicals in the vineyard to powering the winery through renewable energy. Each of the parcels has a distinct character – and often up to 100 indigenous varieties in one plot – so they’re always striving to keep that authenticity and individuality. In the winery, they use gravity flow to avoid the use of pumps or mechanical force.
Meet João Nicolau de Almeida, as he discussed with Xavier Flouret the passion and precision behind his wines!