The Douro Valley has been synonymous with port wine for centuries. While the future of port and its Houses is uncertain, there is a new guard of producers in the Douro making world class unfortified wine. Rita Marques and her Conceito estate is one such revolutionary and it’s great to have the wines back in the GD cellar.
Situated in Douro Superior, within the cooler Valle de Teja, is the family estate belonging to Rita’s mother, Carla Costa Ferreira, comprising 86 hectares of vines spread across five separate quintas, or vineyards. The entire estate is farmed organically with zero use of herbicides or pesticides. Rita’s philosophy is simple, and that is to have each bottle of wine translate their ”love for nature; respect for climate and soil’s characteristics and the ambition to do the best with what our land can produce.”
Image credit: map illustration taken from Decanter.com
Bottled under the Conceito label are Rita’s flagship wines. The Tinto, or Red, is a field blend (meaning that the varietals are interplanted and are therefore picked together and co-fermented) from vines averaging over ninety years of age. The varietals include the likes of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and then aged in French oak for 22 months (50% new and 50% second-fill). The Branco, or White, is also a field blend and from very old vines – around the 100-year mark. The main varietals of Rabigato, Códega, Códega do Larinho, Cerceal and Gouveio are co-fermented in used French oak barrels and aged for a further ten months.
The junior versions of the pair of Conceito wines are labelled Contraste. For the Tinto, around 80% of the blend comes from 40-year old plots that are co-fermented with a 60-year old interplanted parcel of grapes. The wine is matured for 16 months in used French oak barrels. The Contraste Branco comes from interplanted vines that are around twenty years of age, planted at 600 meters in altitude. The grapes are all co-fermented, a bigger portion in stainless steel tanks and the rest in French oak. The wine is left to mature in oak for about eight months.
Conceito mixed case
R 1,870 per 6-bottle case
Contraste | Branco | 2019 | 89 pts. WA | x 2 bottles
“…fresh, pure and lively…flavors linger nicely…enticing for its balance and its youthful freshness.”
Contraste | Tinto | 2019 | 89 pts. WA | x 2 bottles
“…Showing elegance…even more impressive for its balance, understatement and its structure.”
Conceito | Branco | 2019 | 93 pts. WE | x 1 bottle
“…beautifully textured, lightly spiced and poised…It is still so young, promising so much.”
Conceito | Tinto | 2018 | 93 pts. WA | x 1 bottle
“…Elegant overall, this is just lovely – a wine that is a perfect food wine…quite delicious.”
The 100% Bastardo (known as Trousseau in France) is produced from a vineyard planted by Rita’s family about fifty years ago. The grapes ripen before any of the others at Conceito and it is vinified and aged in stainless steel tanks. This is a wine to be enjoyed young and is very versatile on a table – to be drunk with an array of dishes.
We received a tiny amount of the Conceito’s top red, the Único. It is only made in exceptional years and this field blend is sourced from a single plot of vines that are close to 100 years of age planted at 450 meters above sea level. Picked all at the same time, the likes of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Sousão, Tinta Barroca, Alicante Bouschet and Rufete are co-fermented and the wine then spends 22 months in 30% new French oak. We received just 48 bottles of the Único.
Conceito Bastardo 2020 & Único 2017
Conceito | Bastardo | 2020
not yet rated
R 440 per bottle
Conceito | ”Único” Tinto | 2017 | 94-96 pts. WA
“…fruit is perfectly defined and lifted, always precise, pointed and focused…a star in the vintage.”
R 1,200 per bottle
WA = Wine Advocate | WE = Wine Enthusiast