On a recent trip to Portugal I found myself negotiating hair pin turns on a mission to seek out the hidden gem that is Quinta de SantAna. Nestled in the hills some 35km or so North of Lisbon I found myself rounding the final corner and being greeted by the unmistakably yellow estate. For James Frost and his wife Ann, this place signifies so much more than a home for themselves and their seven sons.
Ann’s side of the family, the Von Fürstenburgs, owned and lived at the predominantly arable estate until the revolution in 1974 when the family returned to Germany and the gates were closed. A family friend ensured that the estate didn’t become completely derelict and in time the farm was handed down to Ann and her husband James, an Englishman from Dorset. They then set about not only turning the estate into the most beautiful setting for weddings, parties and holiday accommodation but also painstakingly re-instating its vineyard. James’ background is that of farming and with the help of his winemaker has certainly played to his strengths developing the vineyard and ensuring that quality, not quantity, is the key. Indigenous grape varieties such as Fernão Pires and Touriga Nacional sit happily alongside international varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
The estate is heavily influenced by the Atlantic and as a result the whites are crisp and the reds fresh and full of character. The winery is small yet perfectly formed with two lagares (granite troughs) where the grapes are still trodden in the traditional way. These are surrounded by the more modern vats and stainless steel tanks. The combination of the traditional and modern can be found throughout Quinta de SantAna. Nods to the history of the Quinta being found everywhere including the name of their top wine – Baron Von Fürstenburg.
The variety and quality of Portuguese wine has come on in leaps and bounds recently and as is often the case in relatively underrated areas of the wine world there are some real bargains to be had. We think that these wines offer real value and are well worth your attention. Saúde!
Taste all of the Quinta’s wines at our tutored tasting at the end of November.