What makes the Távora valley so unique? Its terroir.

Mar 22nd 21

Terroir is a French term that has become one of the most used words in the wine world. Terroir encompasses a whole set of factors (soil type, orography, climate, grape varieties, and human intervention) that determine the profile of wine from a particular area or region. At Kranemann Wine Estates, our unique terroir reflects in the characteristics of the wine we produce. These are minerality, acidity, freshness, and elegance that apply to our whole range. The following are elements that make Kranemann Wine Estates' terroir so unique:

Schist, granite, and quartz soil

Kranemann Wine Estates' vineyards, especially those at Quinta do Convento de São Pedro das Águias, located in Tabuaço, right at the heart of the Távora valley, in a transitional area between the Douro and the Dão. Here the soil has an exceptional characteristic: it is composed of the typical red schist of the Douro region, granite and also some quartz. We can find many rock cut-offs that show white quartz. Thanks to this composition, the Porto and Douro Wine Institute calls this region's soils 'transition soils'. The schist gives the wines a highly distinctive, delicate tannin structure. The granite and quartz reflect in their striking minerality.

Sun exposure

Within the Douro's heroic viticulture, the traditional sloped terraces (one or two rows of vines) and leveled terraces (more than two rows of vines) were built over the centuries to overcome the steep incline of the terrain.  Due to the orography in the valley, orientation and sun exposure of the vineyards is immutable. However, Quinta do Convento de São Pedro das Águias benefits from a north-northeast orientation, which results in less intense sun exposure, particularly at the hottest time of day. The vines are less heat-stressed, contributing to the fruit's good acidity levels, even during the final maturation phase. 

Altitude and climate 

While the north-northeast orientation of our vineyards ensures less sun exposure, the altitude (vineyards up to 420 metres) also guarantees a cooler climate than other regions in the Douro throughout the whole year. The grapes at harvest tend to have more sugar, more alcohol, and less fruit acidity. Even in Summer, nights in the Tavora valley are considerably cooler when compared to the norm for the Douro. Therefore, the vines recover better from the daily heat stress, preserving their vitality and the end quality of the bunches.

Traditional varieties

As for grape and wine quality, the varieties used are naturally of utmost importance. The Douro is a hymn to local Portuguese varieties, and Kranemann Wine Estates is no exception. For the whites, the iconic Rabigato, Gouveio, and Viosinho play a crucial role in varietal-specific land plots chosen for their altitude or soil composition, mainly where the granite is more present. A small traditional vineyard of white Portuguese varietals planted as a field blend is also in its early stages. As for reds, highlights include Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz and Bastardo. The terroir is of historical significance, and the current viticulture preserves the uniqueness of the Douro, even in more recent vineyards. Older ones remain, too, particularly those that guarantee superior quality and elegance. The oldest vineyard at Quinta do Convento de São Pedro das Águias, known as 'Feliciano's Vineyard', dates back to 1970 and proves its worth with excellent harvests year on year. It is the primary source of the Kranemann Wine Estates' leading wines.

The human touch

Terroir is also affected by all human intervention, from viticulture to the winemaking process. In the heroic viticulture of the Douro, where the landscape means that all intervention (from pruning to harvest) follows traditional, manual procedures, experience and decision-making are crucial. All decisions made take into account the vineyard's natural expression, enhancing its unique features. As can be seen, for example, with pruning (see the article on pruning here).

Each bottle of wine produced by Kranemann Wine Estates, at the heart of the Távora valley, is the product of incomparable conditions. It is a reflection of this extraordinary place. But what should wine be, if not the genuine reflection of the place it is born?