Cristiano van Zeller at Quinta do Vale Dona Maria is a well known person in the Douro-valley. He used to own Quinta de Noval which he sold in the middle of the 1990s to Axa Millésime. In 1996 Cristiano bought Quinta de Vale Dona Maria and spent some time renovating, investing and building a new cellar. The first vintages he had to make in other people’s cellars (friends like Quinta do Crasto or Dirk Niepoort) but in 2001 Cristiano made his first wine in the brand new cellar at Quinta do Vale Dona Maria.
The road up to the quinta is narrow and steep. But once you are up there the reward is an amazing view of the valley and the river. And of course, some very good wines. The estate is about to get its organic certification. ”It’s import for me”, says Cristiano, ”even if the market doesn’t care.” Quinta de Vale Dona Maria 2008 is one of his best wines. The grapes come from the oldest vines. It is 13 different varieties which are foot trodden in traditional lagars. The wine has complex aromas, soft tannins and an incredibly intense fruit. The wine radiates elegance and power at the same time. The elegance is important to Cristiano. “The oak should never overpower the fruit. “
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