Organic viticulture, natural winemaking, bottled water, and a distillery museum were the defining elements of these properties. Organic means different things in different countries and areas. In this area on the right bank of the Tamega in Amarante, it means “the promotion and improvement of the ecosystem providing biodiversity, biological cycles and the soil’s biological activity…”
The most interesting and unusual elements at Quinta da Baseira and Quinta do Freixo, were the placement of modern stainless steel tanks inside the original concrete fermentation vats and the distillery museum. Most of the wineries we visited still fermented in concrete tanks but also had the more modern stainless steel tanks placed in addition to the concrete tanks. This was the only winery that has actually put the stainless steel inside the concrete tanks.
In America most wineries have the stainless steel tanks but many are now adding concrete tanks. What is old becomes new again! Stainless steel gives that nice crisp clean finish to wines. Concrete, like wood, seems to give richer, creamier flavors. It seems to retain more fruit, complexity and it has excellent temperature retention which reduces demand on insulation and cooling. Some wineries are actually fermenting in both stainless and concrete and then blending.
The Distillery Museum was my favorite. It is unique in all of Portugal and was at one time a working distillery. Today the copper columns, coils, decanters and bronze equipment still stand and are some of the most ancient in Portugal. Another unique feature was the meditation area within the Distillery that they call the support room.