Served at Corinthia Lisbon, Quinta de La Rosa produces critically acclaimed wine in Portugal’s Douro region, which is renowned all over the world for its port wine production. A family business, we spoke to owner Sophia Bergqvist about the story behind the vineyard, what to look for when tasting Portuguese wine and the best pairings to serve alongside their vintages.
What are your earliest memories of the Douro region?
“I visited every summer to stay with my grandmother Claire, who lived at Quinta de La Rosa all year around. It was always very hot and dry and dusty. There was no air conditioning but she did have a pool, which died my hair blue because of the copper sulphate she used instead of chlorine. The river Douro wasn’t dammed and we would often play around in the water. I remember we went on a trip in a traditional Rabelo boat over the rapids one Easter, which was very scary! The Douro was very different then and it only had rough, windy roads that would make me feel carsick. Back then, there were no tourists here and nobody came to the Douro in the summer. I loved it and cried every time I left.”
Can you tell us a bit about the evolution of the Quinta de la Rosa estate?
“The estate was originally given to my grandmother as a christening present in 1906—her father ran the Quinta under his shipping company Feuerheerd. The company was sold and he kept the Quinta and sold the grapes to port producers, Sandeman. It wasn’t until 1988 that my father Tim and I set up a company selling port under our name and became one of the first in the region to start making wine and open our doors to tourism. Today, we have 23 guestrooms, a shop, tours, tastings and a restaurant.”
What are your tasting tips for those interested in sampling Portuguese Douro wine?
“I like to always make sure that the wines or ports are quite cool, and in the summer I like to keep them chilled. I would also say it’s a good idea to ensure you have a decent glass to taste in—my favourites are Riedel or Schott. Glassware is deceptively important when carrying out a tasting. Lastly, many Douro wines are drunk too soon—cellar them for a few years before you open them.”
What do you think sets Portuguese Douro wine apart from other Mediterranean producers?
“The freshness and acidity of the wines combined with the complexity and fascinating history associated with port. I’d say also that the excellent ageing potential of Douro wine sets it apart.”
What are some of your favourite food pairings with Quinta de La Rosa’s wines?
“The wines, especially our Estate red, are very versatile and work well with many dishes. My favourite pairings include Portuguese specialities such as Serra da Estrela cheese and Bacalhau, as well as our port with chocolate desserts or an almond tart.”
As we move into autumn, what are the best bottles to enjoy as the days get colder and shorter?
“As the weather gets cooler, I really enjoy our old reserve red wine and vintage port. For me, it’s a case of the older the better!’