The Douro Valley extends across northern Portugal and into Spain, a deep cleft along the Douro River that creates precipitous vineyards where terraces have been used for hundreds of years to create level strips of ground where vines can grow.
The primarily schist soils are barren and low in nutrients. The climate is hot, but much depends on elevation and aspect in the vineyards—higher elevation fruit ripens later, while lower, south-facing fruit ripens sooner. The Serra do Marão creates a barrier at the Atlantic coast that blocks rains from the ocean, causing progressively drier conditions as the Douro Valley proceeds east toward the Spanish border.
While some Porto producers have begun releasing single-quinta (single-vineyard) Portos from estate vineyards, it is still traditional for fruit to be sourced from selected partners among the thousands of small farmers in the Douro Valley. Croft uses fruit from its own Quinta da Roêda for its vintage and single-quinta portos; for Croft’s other bottlings, fruit is carefully sourced from partner growers.
In the Douro Valley there is a common saying, attributed to the 19th-century poet Vega Cabral: “If the wine district were a golden ring, Roêda would be the diamond.” This magnificent property was probably planted early in the 18th century, during the great surge in demand for Port following the 1703 Methuen Treaty, under which England agreed to levy one-third less duty on Portuguese wine than on French. Previously owned by Taylor Fladgate & Yeatman, it was acquired by John Fladgate personally in 1862. With the marriage of Fladgate’s daughter to a Croft, the property passed into the House of Croft in 1875.
Today Quinta da Roêda consists of 270 acres planted with approximately 332,000 vines. It is located on the north bank of the Douro just to the east of Pinhão in the Cima Corgo growing region, an area that has traditionally been considered the center of the highest-quality Porto viticulture. Quinta da Roêda is the cornerstone of Croft’s reputation as a producer of superb vintage and vintage-style Portos. Its characteristically plump, full, vigorously fruity wines, with their hallmark aroma of gum cistus, the aromatic bush, are the quintessence of the inimitable Croft house style.