Real Companhia Velha
Portugal’s oldest winery, still innovating today
Wednesday 02 March 2022
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Founded in 1756 by the Silva Reis family, Real Companhia Velha is the oldest winemaker in Portugal — and it’s still owned and operated by that same family some 265 years later. Based in the Douro, Portugal’s prized and oldest wine region, the family makes Port and Douro wines, researching and highlighting the unique local terroir across their five quintas.
The grapes used to make Real Companhia Velha’s wines are grown on the family quintas in terraces that snake down the mountain sides of the Alto Douro wine region. Here is where the River Douro winds along the valley, the sun beats down on lush green slopes and where all of the Real Companhia Velha’s vines are found.
From the 100 year old vines on the family’s traditionally-terraced Quinta das Carvalhas to the continuous and experimental slope of the Quinta de Cidrô plateau, there is a healthy interest in modern techniques and ecological matters alongside traditional winemaking methods handed down over the centuries.
What this means for your glass is that every part of the estate is being used to its own particular advantage; every plot has its own strength. Shadier, cooler plots produce outstanding white grapes used for port or the house’s sparkling espumantes. More traditional, historic vineyards are kept for their quality red grapes. And you get to taste the reason for all that hard work, you lucky thing.
Real Companhia Velha’s Port cellar
Real Companhia Velha is also well known for its Port wines, which are definitely worth a mention here. Crafting a Port wine full of complexity and depth is more than simply adding grape spirit to sweet wine. Real Companhia Velha cellars its port in the city of Vila Nova de Gaia, known colloquially as “Gaia”. The storied history of this area is soaked in Port; its docks were vital to the growth in popularity of Port worldwide, and it’s where the cultural heart of Port wine lives; in the cool, quiet cellars of the Port houses, as this special fortified wine ages and matures, gaining complexity and structure from softening tannins and mellow wood.
Some of the Port reposing in the Vila Nova de Gaia cellars deep under the sunny streets of the city is 30 years old or more, only served by devoted sommeliers when it reaches the perfect level of maturity. They say it’s worth the wait.
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