Discovering this estate has been a rewarding adventure starting with encounters in Paris and Montpellier, and finally a visit to the deepest part of the Douro, where Joaquim Almeida makes his wines.
An architect by trade, he used to travel to the Douro to design cellars for the famous Port houses. While waiting between meetings he joined in the Port blending sessions and became fascinated by the art of ageing wine. A chance encounter with an estate agent lead him to a spur of the moment decision to buy an old vineyard deep in the Douro Valley's interior and start Vale do Pios from scratch with only the most rudimentary knowledge and very few resources.
With only 6 inches of rain a year, this is a challenging landscape suitable only for the cultivation of vines and olives. The complex soils, mixing schist, granite and shale, and the extreme diurnal temperature swing bring pronounced freshness and mineral drive to the wines.
The passion for the project took hold until he took the brave decision to close his architecture practice and focus full-time on wine. Liberation from his desk job has meant sacrifices, but also the ability to be in the vineyard every day and to taste the wines as they age on a twice-daily basis. A firm believer that wine should not be released until ready to drink, his current range is notably older than the norm, especially As Tourigas, of which only 1,000 bottles were made.
The vineyards are organically cultivated, and his ideal is to make wine as naturally as possible, without sacrificing their stability for export or for their ability to be cellared. An outsider, or an interloper even, in the closed world of the Douro wine scene, he has found his audience outside Portugal, and we are proud to be the first to introduce his exceptional wines to the UK.