Twenty years separate the beginning of wine tourism in Herdade do Esporão and Quinta dos Murças. It’s the Esporão family growing and doing what they know best!
It is said that it all began in 1714, when that place was already known as the Murças farm, referring to Murças captain-major.
After passing through different families, the estate finally reached the hands of Esporão. A pioneer in wine tourism in Portugal, Herdade do Esporão, in Alentejo, opened its doors to visitors for the first time in 1997 (you can read about “a day in Esporão” here).
But it didn’t stick by the south and Quinta dos Murças, in the Douro, was the continuation of Esporão to the north. Since 2008, Quinta dos Murças has gained a new life!
It all began with the reconstruction of the vineyards, as many were careless or even abandoned. But the vineyard that was always untouchable was the VV47 plot – the first vertical vineyard ever planted in the Douro in 1947.
Until then the vineyards in the Douro were planted horizontally, along the famous terraces that characterize the landscape of this region, considered World Heritage by UNESCO.
Today the vineyards of Quinta dos Murças look like a patchwork!
Each plot has its own configuration, orientation, sun exposure, to make the most of the slope, the winds, the freshness of the proximity to the river. There are only Portuguese and indigenous Douro grape varieties.
It was in a jeep ride, with the winemaker José Luis Moreira by the wheel, that I realized the relevance of each of the eight terroirs that are considered to exist in Quinta dos Murças and allows us to produce wines so distinct from each other.
The last stage of the new life of Quinta dos Murças, was to recover the existing house on the estate, completed in 2017.
In this house right on top of the Douro there are five guest rooms, swimming pool, dining room, living room with balcony, shop and a tasting room.
On my annual trip to the Douro, I decided to include Quinta dos Murças, where I stayed for the night. And what an excellent decision of mine!
I was warmly welcomed by Manuel, one of the wine tourism leaders, who showed me all the areas in the house as it was his own and that I could use as I pleased. My room was spacious, very simply and warmly decorated and with direct access to the pool!
On that hot August day, I could not resist hurling myself into the cool water, with the Douro river and its vineyards as a background.
Manuel asked me what time I wanted dinner to be served on the porch of my room. That’s when I realized the pampering with which guests are treated there at the estate!
But even before dinner, I went to visit the winery where large granite lagars occupy most of the space. Here the walking of the grapes is repeated every year since 2010.
Just like it happens at Herdade do Esporão, here in Murças there is also an organic farming and a very environmentally friendly winery operation, where all resources are reused and used consciously.
Right next to the lagars there is also a big clay pot where Amphora wine has been produced for the last two years.
Amphora wine, as you know, is not at all a traditional technique in the Douro. But once Esporão was born in the Alentejo, it was somehow bold to try this Alentejo ancestral technique with a Douro wine.
And let me tell you, it worked very well!
At dinner I tasted almost the full range of Quinta dos Murças which I highlight:
- Assobio Branco – not only for being the only white wine produced here, but also it’s freshness and balance. A blend of Douro classic grape varieties, no oak aging and therefore a fruity and easy to drink wine above all. Still, intense and with personality, just like the strong and windy vines from which it comes from
- Minas – next to this plot there are 5 mines of water that cool the plants in shale soil. In this wine where the ripe fruit stands out, but with balance and freshness. The grapes are hand-picked, foot stomped that end up in the mouth full of flavor!
- Ânfora – the “twin” brother of Minas. Same grape varieties, same vineyard, same vintage date but with fermentation made in clay, in Alentejo style. And the difference is quite amazing! No doubt the fruit is present but wrapped in those earthy and stone aromas, making it a drier wine with a long finish, just the way I like it!
Next morning, Dona Margarida had prepared me a nice breakfast on the river-facing balcony.
At that time, there were no other guests yet, it was just me, the Douro and a table full of delicious treats! What else could I ask for? 😊
I will not lie …… the road to get there is quite challenging – just one lane, unpaved road with no protective walls where at one point I had to share a narrow bend with a truck! – but believe me it is worth all this effort, just to get to know Quinta dos Murças!