Meet the man behind some historic grapes at Morgado do Quintão
Down a long, winding country road lined with wild flora and fauna is a large, family-owned, organic vineyard estate. Even with my Google map pin securely placed on the location, I was still not 100% sure I had arrived until reached the main house.
I was taken aback by the feeling of peace and grace that swept over me when I arrived. Morgado do Quintão exudes a refined country chic aura, is fantastically tranquil and so close to Carvoeiro. This fabulous, sprawling estate was founded in 1810 by the Count of Silves and is now in the careful hands of his descendant, Filipe Caldas de Vasconcellos who undertook the mammoth challenge of transforming the wild old vines and cottages into their current glory. “You never really own a place like this,” says Filipe. “I’m somewhat of a caretaker, looking after it for the future generations. It’s a wonderful legacy and we are incredibly grateful to be here.”
When you think about wine projects, it is so rare that wine is produced in such close proximity to the sea, and this has a huge effect on the flavour of the wines. Filipe says that he was walking around the vines recently and he came across some fossilised shells from the days when the land was under water. This link to the sea is of great importance and that not only comes through in the wine, but you can see it in the labels too. They have taken the colours of the Algarve, the sea, sky, buildings and created fabulously simple yet incredibly striking labels that convey an insight to what lays within the bottle.
The wines of Morgado do Quintão are to be savoured. Their production is somewhat on the boutique side and as such is even more special. “We were honoured to receive two Silvers at the Algarve Wine Contest for the Palhete and Clarete, and Best Wines in Portugal (Algarve) 2019 for our Branco Especial ’18,” Filipe proudly tells us.
Constantly innovating, they introduced a 150-year-old amphora, terracotta wine vessel to their processing methods in 2020, which will deliver a new level of complexity. Planting more vines, investing in alternative techniques, and working with some of the best in the business, the idea is to enhance what is organically there.
Although 2020 was a challenging year in many ways, including a sadly low yield for many of the Algarve’s vineyards, Filipe seems unfazed and tells us that he took this opportunity to build on the e-commerce and social aspects of the business and reaching out to local vendors to build his brand. “What sets us apart in a way is that we have very old vines of indigenous varieties and we have a really modern view on how the wine should be our connection to the arts, which is quite fundamental to how we think. When you’re able to do what you love, the way you love and you can share that story and that passion, it’s awesome!” he says.
Filipe’s late mother, Teresa Pereira Caldas de Vasconcellos was an art historian and professor of Fine Arts. Every year, one of Teresa’s works is selected along with an invited artist who designs a label to be placed on their old Crato Branco parcel harvest. These labels have a big part to play within the philosophy of the vineyard, with the objective of promoting art, culture and education.
Created to honour Teresa, the Morgado do Quintão Art/Innovation project offers a creative and inspiring environment in which visiting artists can express themselves through the artist residency programme. The project is funded by a percentage of the proceeds from the estate’s yearly activities along with grants and donations. You can find out more about this on their website.
Complimenting the vines, there is the family estate which includes three charming country cottages. Each have their own identity and retain that rustic feeling discreetly complimented with all the mod-cons you need to enjoy a short break. The furnishings are a beautiful mixture of antique and modern pieces and each cottage has access to a private pool in its own grounds, surrounded by plum, olive, carob and fig trees.
The wine tours and tastings are, as you would imagine, rather special and there are a few to choose from. The Tour & Tasting pack includes a quick tour of the grounds and wine tasting experience that lasts for one hour and costs €17.50. At €25, Premium Tour & Tasting offers guests a premium wine tasting experience, exploring the history of the estate, its unique terroir, and, of course, sampling the fabulous wines along with some local cheese and charcuterie and Algarve delicacies by their in-house cook.
The Farmer’s Table experience leads visitors to a gathering under the 2.000-year-old olive tree overlooking old Negramole vines, and a casual lunch is prepared and enjoyed with a selection of wines from the estate. Next is a stroll through the vines with the resident manager. This lasts around two-and-a-half hours and is €55 with a minimum of four people.