Portugual’s Douro Valley has a storied wine history that dates back centuries, most notably from the time of its demarcation as a region in 1756. One of the original properties within that demarcation is Quinta da Pacheca which we were lucky enough to visit just a few short months ago.
The name ‘Pacheca’ is derived from Lady Mariana Pacheco Perreira who was the property owner in 1738 according to a document of that same year.
Prior to that, the property is referenced as far back as 1551 where it was a vineyard belonging to the Monasteries of Salzedas and St. João de Tarouca. It is a stunning estate (something we’d come to expect with every winery in the region) that covers approximately 75 hectares in the lower Douro, in the village of Cambres.
This renowned historical property began to embrace modernization and increased production when it was purchased by D. José Freire de Serpa Pimentel at the turn of the 20th Century.
Back then, modernization meant the construction of 8 granite stone tanks where some of Pacheca’s red wines are still vinified today as part of a limited production offering. It also meant replanting the vineyards into single-variety-blocks which was practically unheard of at the time.
Quinta da Pacheca was one of the first wineries in the region to bottle DOC (denominação de origem controlada) wines under its own brand and in 1977, and, under the guidance of D. Eduardo Mendia Freire de Serpa Pimentel, was the first in Portugal to produce white wines from Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.
In the mid 1990’s, Pacheca began focusing on enotourism by offering guided tours and culinary classes (more on that a little later), along with the construction of the Wine House Hotel which opened in 2009 and features a handful of ‘rooms’ in the vineyard built in the shape of wine barrels.
Yes, those wine barrel rooms you’ve seen on social media actually exist and aren’t just ‘instagrammable’, they’re a brilliant way of drawing wine enthusiasts for a truly unique wine stay.
Today the Quinta is owned by Paulo Pereira and Maria do Céu Gonçalves who purchased it in 2012 but the Serpa Pimentel family is still involved, including Maria Serpa Pimentel who continues on as the estate winemaker.
Now back to those cooking classes…
So much of culture is historically rooted around the dinner table. It is where families and friends come together as one. Cooking is one of the main forms of expressing and identifying a culture and good food and good wine have gone together since the beginning of time.
For us, there is no better, and no more enjoyable way to immerse yourself in a local culture than by enjoying the pleasures of the local table, with the locals.
At Pacheca, we got a first-class cooking demonstration from Chef Marcos who was not only incredibly talented but had a warmth and passion for cooking that is beyond infectious. Despite the fact he was cooking that evening for a wedding of about 300 guests, he happily and energetically guided us through a culinary experience that included fresh local octopus, traditional croquettes and a crème brulée that was caramelized with what can best be described as a 19th century iron.
As Chef Marcos took us through the cooking class, Ricardo dos Santos (Tasting Room & Direct Sales Manager) provided a lineup of Pacheca wines that represented the spectrum of their wines, both still and Port. We enjoyed the 2020 Superior Branco, the 2019 Douro Tinto, the 2017 Lagar no. 1 Reserva, the 2018 Vintage Port, their Ruby Reserve Port, the 20-year-old Tawny Port and 40-year-old Tawny Port.
To finish with such a splendid wine and food pairing experience was a truly fitting end to our time in the Douro Valley.
2020 Pacheca Branco Grande Reserva
The round and fruity Branco Grande Reserva shows the fresh acidity that is a Duoro Valley signature. Made from a blend of Viosinho and Rabigato, this wine is raised in 500 litre barrels made of oak and acacia after the initial fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Medium body with slightly fresh acidity, there are notes of melon that layer in with the citrus and mineral to create a nicely balanced wine that charms with its simplicity and refreshing characteristics.
2017 Pacheca Grande Reserva Touriga Nacional
Touriga Nacional is the main grape of the Duoro Valley and the grapes for this wine come from a 32 year old plot overlooking the river at 140 metres of elevation. Notes of plum and white pepper are delivered with a soft, smooth mouthfeel that shows polish and class. Medium body and medium minus tannin, this is a wine designed to deliver immediate pleasure. 18 months in French oak adds texture and a bit of spice.
2017 Lagar No. 1 Reserva
The beautiful dark purple colour informs you that this will be a wine that will impress. There is a lovely nose that evokes dark fruits such as blackberries and black cherries with hints of baking spice. On the plate the body is full with medium plus tannin. Flavours of raspberry and blueberry gain added complexity from the spice notes and bitter chocolate. A serious wine that will reward a bit more time in the cellar. Very complex.
2018 Pacheca Vintage Port
A delicious and deeply coloured vintage port that was nearly opaque in our glasses. The palate comes across as very ripe with blueberry and blackberry flavours delivered with intensity. Vanilla and clove spices add complexity and accentuate the sweetness. There is both power and elegance to this wine. Charming today, it will no doubt evolve in cool cellars for decades to come.
Rua do Relógio do Sol 261 Cambres 5100-424 Lamego
Douro Valley – Portugal
(+351) 254 331 229