Catching the last rays of sun (Douro River Valley)

>> Friday, 21 January 2011



douro river and steep vineyards view from pinhao quinta do seixo sandeman douro portugal

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Douro River Valley, Portugal, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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The Douro River is one of the five main rivers on the Iberian peninsula. In Spain it is called Duero. In Portugal it becomes the Douro. It flows out into the Atlantic by the twin cities Porto (Oporto) and Vila Nova de Gaia. Its source is at more than 2000 meter altitude in Spain and its length is more than 800 km.

Its main claim to fame (at least for us) is as the home to port wines. But in recent decades it has also become an important wine region for “table” wines, DOC Douro wines. In Spain there are severa other more or less well known appellations along the river: Ribera del Duero, Arribes (del Duero) etc.

It is without a doubt one of the most visually spectacular wine regions that we have ever seen. Starting in Porto you can travel up the valley, past Regua (Peso da Regua, even past Pinhao if you wish, and all along you will see spectacular scenery. the higher up the river you go the more amazing it is. In many places you cannot help thinking “how can anyone even get the idea to grow vines here?” The hills are covered with vineyards. And everywhere there are terraces. Hundreds, thousands, millions? Many of the terraces are only one or two rows of vines broad. In the old days all of this was no doubt constructed by hand. Today they have at least bulldozers to make new terraces.

On virtually every hilltop there is a winery. When you get up to the winery, following a winding road, you have spectacular views all around. And surprisingly, many of the wineries have brand new installations. There has been a lot of investment recently in new buildings, new wineries, new vinification equipment.

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Douro River Valley and Vineyards - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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Waiting for something to arrive (Quita do Vallado, Portugal)

>> Thursday, 20 January 2011



tasting glasses quinta do vallado douro portugal

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Quinta do Vallado, Regua, Corgo, Douro, Portugal, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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Quinta do Vallado is a family owned winery near Regua in the Douro Valley. It is actually in a side vally, in the Corgo river valley, just where it meets the Douro. Once upon a time it belonged to the legendary Dona Antonia Adelaide Ferreira. The quinta has an old chapel that testifies about its long heritage. Today it is still in the hands of the same family, managed by João Ferreira Álvares Ribeiro, Francisco Ferreira and Francisco Olazabal.

The Quinta has 70 hectares of vineyards (38 ha according to some information). The vines range in age from young up to 60 or even 80 years. Most vineyards are planted on terraces with single rows of vines. The hillsides in the Douro are so steep that it is the only possible way to plant. There is a number of different grape varieties: touriga nacional, touriga franca, tinta roriz, barroca, tinta amarela, and sousao. They also have some white grapes planted: viosinho, rabigato, muscatel, verdelho (gouveio) and arinto.

The winery has recently been renovated and extended with new buildings, and equipped with the latest vinification technology. They make a range of wines, both fortified port wine and table wine: Quinta do Vallado Adelaide, QdV Reserva, Quinta do Vallado, as well as a number of varietal wines.

On the estate there is also a villa with luxurious rooms that one can rent to spend a few days in this amazing wine region.

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Douro Quinta do Vallado - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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The Douro Valley is certainly one of the most spectacular wine regions (Quinta do Seixo, Portugal)

>> Wednesday, 19 January 2011



autumn colours vineyards quinta do seixo sandeman douro portugal

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Quinta do Seixo, Pinhao, Douro, Portugal, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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Quinta do Seixo is a port wine winery close to Pinhao with a fabulous location on a hilltop overlooking the Douro River. It belongs to the Sogrape Group that also owns several other famous brands, such as Sandeman and Ferreira. Quinta do Seixo was bought by Ferreira in 1979 and came to Sogrape with the purchase of Ferreira in 1987. In fact, Sogrape owns several quintas (wineries with vineyards) in the Douro: In Cima-Corgo it owns Quinta do Seixo, Quinta da Boavista, Quinta do Porto, Quinta do Caêdo and Quinta do Vau; in Douro Superior, Quinta da Leda.

The Quinta do Seixo has been thoroughly renovated in Sogrape hands. the winery is newly built and very impressive with all modern technology you need. They have e.g. the “mechanical feet” that many wineries (but not all) now use for treading the grapes in the lagares. Also the vineyards have been “renovated”. They have replanted much of the vineyards focusing on a single variety in each plot and planting with different planting densities to maximise sun exposure. Quinta do Seixo has 49 hectares of vineyards.

From the winery at the Quinta you have a stunning view over the river. (But where do you not have stunning views in the Douro? If you have never been there it is worth a visit. It is one of the most spectacular wine regions we have ever visited.) You can see downstream in the direction of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, the traditional centres for the port wine trade (that is far away of course), and you can see upstream towards Pinhao. This main town of the upper Douro is visible on a bend in the river a few kilometres away.

http://www.sograpevinhos.eu/

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Douro Quinta do Seixo Sandeman - stock photo samplem - Images by Per Karlsson

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Quinta do Noval and the Nacional vineyard, Douro, Portugal

>> Tuesday, 18 January 2011



autumn colours vineyards parts of ungrafted nacional the winery quinta do noval douro portugal

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Quinta do Noval, Pinhao, Douro, Portugal, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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Quinta do Noval is a port winery far up the Douro Valley, beyond Pinhao along an affluent to the Douro river towards Vale de Mendiz. Today it is owned by the French insurance company AXA, through its subsidiary AXA Millesimes.

The vineyards lie around the winery building, perched on a hilltop. Some of the vineyards are incredibly steep and one wonders how anyone could get the idea to plant vines there. The most famous wine they produce is the Quinta do Noval Nacional made from a 2.5 hectare vineyard of ungrafted vines, located just below the winery. They have another vintage port wine that is called Silval, somewhat lighter in style, as well as LBV (late bottled vintage), colheita, tawny, and a ruby Raven port. Quinta do Noval also makes some “table” wine (i.e. not fortified, not port wine). They go under the label Cedro do Noval as well as Quinta do Noval Douro DOC. They use several of grape varieties, as is the norm in the Douro: touriga nacional, touriga franca, tinta cao, tinta barocca, tinta roriz (tempranillo) etc. The vineyards cover some 145 ha in total.

The actual winery is a mix of tradition and modern technology. You can see big, old oak casks storing aging ports, but you can also se the latest sorting tables at harvest time.

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Douro Quinta do Noval - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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Automatic wine making? For the technology interested (Quinta do Cotto, Portugal)

>> Monday, 17 January 2011



concrete vats auto-vinificators quinta do cotto douro portugal

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Quinta do Cotto, Mesao Frio, Douro, Portugal, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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Quita do Cotto is a port wine and red table wine winery in Mesao Frio in the Douro Valley. It belongs to the Champalimaud family. The winemaker is Miguel Champalimaud and Vasco Cunha Coutinho. It lies above the village Mesao Frio. To get there you drive up the steep road and turn left at the spectacular small church Cidadelhe covered in typical Portuguese slightly baroque style. The estate itself is on the top of the hill and is a grandiose 18th century mansion overlooking the Douro valley.

Quinta do Cotto has 70 hectares of vineyard planted with a variety of grapes.

They make two “table” wines: Quinta do Cotto that is a red wine made primarily from touriga nacional, tinta roriz, sousao and touriga francesa. Harvest is manual, grapes are destemmed and the wine is vinified in the autovinificators and in stainless steel tanks. The wine is partially aged in oak barrels. The Cotto Grande Escolha is made from old vines, minimum 25 years. Grape varieties are touriga nacional and tinta roriz. The wine is aged up to 15 months in oak barrels.

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Douro Quinta do Cotto - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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Just a glass of late bottled vintage 2001, Quinta do Infantado, Douro.

>> Friday, 14 January 2011



lbv late bottled vintage 2001 in a glass quinta do infantado douro portugal

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Quinta do Infantado, Douro, Portugal, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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Quinta do Infantado is a small independent Douro “quinta” (winery) making some very nice ports. It is owned by the Roseira family since several generations back. The current generation is Joao Roseira and his sister Catherine Roseira.

The winery is in a small village, not easy to find. And when you arrive at the winery you are certainly a far distance away from some of today’s super-modern wineries that have been built along the Douro River. This is certainly a traditional family winery. It is on the edge of the village, with a view over the vineyards. The vineyards are steep and terraced. Cannot be easy to work there and even less so in summer under a scorching sun.

The wines are generally of a style much dryer than your average port. Still sweet of course but not so overwhelmingly so. Sometimes almost light, often very elegant. They e.g. make Ruby, Tawny, LBV (late bottled vintage) of different ages, and vintage.

The winery is an old farm building. Inside you can find the traditional open lagares for treading the grapes. They have some concrete fermentation tanks, and of course many oak barrels, port pipes, to age the wines.

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Douro Quinta do Infantado - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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Sealed, but for how long? (Quinta da Gaivosa, Alves de Sousa, Portugal)

>> Wednesday, 12 January 2011



old bottle with wax seal quinta da gaivosa douro portugal

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Quinta da Gaivosa, Alves de Sousa, Douro, Portugal, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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Alves de Sousa at Quinta da Gaivosa is a port wine producer in the Douro Valley in northern Portugal. (The Douro Valle is also a Unesco World Heritage Site). Domingos Alves de Sousa heads this family producer of both fortified (port) wines and still wines since 1987. Alves de Sousa has twice been named Producer of the Year in Portugal.

This is what he says himself: “He reorganized and joined his vines, searched theoretical knowledge of viticulture and winemaking attending different courses in Portugal and Bordeaux and gathered a team properly qualified. The construction of a modern cellar in Quinta da Gaivosa was the final step for the beginning of the production of wines with the grapes from the family's five "Quintas".”

The family estate actually comprises five different vineyards. In addition to the original Quita de Gaivosa, there is also Quinta da Aveleira, Quinta das Caldas, Quinta da Estacao (the station vineyard?), and Quinta do Vale da Raposa. The total vineyard area for the five estates is 110 hectares. The vineyards are, as is habitual in the Douro, planted with a variety of grape types, sometimes in so called “filed blends”: malvasia, gouveio, viosinho, tinta roriz, touriga nacional, tinta barroca, sousao, tinta francisca…

In the five quintas they make a wide range of port wines, as well as red and white “table” wines, some with the Douro denomination.

http://www.alvesdesousa.com/

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Douro Quinta da Gaivosa Alves de Sousa - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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Calem Port Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia, Douro

>> Tuesday, 11 January 2011



calem port lodge vila nova de gaia porto portugal

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Vila Nova de Gaia city, Portugal, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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If Porto is the administrative capital of the Doruo river and port wine district, it is Vila Nova de Gaia that is the vinous centre. It is here that you find all the famous “port lodges”, big warehouses, or wineries with a more romantic name. You see one well-known name after the other on the lodges: Sandeman, Calem, Croft, Cockburn’s, Ramos Pinto, Burmester, Ferreira, Fonseca, Calem etc etc.

Vila Nova de Gaia is located just across the river, a short walk across the Ponte Dom Luis I bridge. You can walk up the hill and get an excellent view of both Gaia and Oporto (as it is sometimes called). Its location at the mouth of the Douro River out into the Atlantic made it a good location for a shipping (and sipping?) and warehouse centre for port wine.

There was a time (until quite recently) that all the port wine had to be stored and shipped, by law, from the town of Vila Nova de Gaia. When that changed Gaia lost some of its importance as the centre for Port wine, since it became possible for producers to work directly from wineries near the vineyards further up the river.

There is a pleasant river-side walk along the keys. You will pas in front of many of the famous port lodges on the town side, and on the river side you can see many old Barco Rabelo, the typical sail boats used for transporting port on the river. The barcos rabelos are no longer in use of course. Today transporting wine is more likely to be done by lorry. You will also find plenty of restaurants and bars.

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Douro Porto Vila Nova de Gaia Port Lodges - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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Cloaked and hiding behind the building in Porto (Oporto). Who is he?

>> Monday, 10 January 2011



roof top and painted advertisment for sandeman porto portugal

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Porto city, Portugal, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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Porto, sometimes called Oporto, is the main city in the Douro valley. It lies at the outlet of the Douro river to the Atlantic. Douro is in practice a twin city with the “port lodge city” Vila Nova de Gaia. It is just a short walk over the Dom Luis I bridge that separates the two. Porto is the evident starting point for any exploration of the wine regions and the port wine houses along the Douro river, but it is also a city with many tourist attractions and points of interest itself.

Porto is Portugal’s second largest city with over 220,000 inhabitants. It lies in the northern part of the country, on the coast, and is obviously an important harbour (port). It is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Together with Vila Nova de Gaia it is the centre of the port wine trade.

Not to be missed are for example: the Porto Cathedral, the Avenida dos Aliados, Palacio da Bolsa, the Ponte Dom Luis I bridge, the City Hall, the churches with the characteristic azulejos blue tiles (e.g. Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, Capela das Almas de Santa Catarina, Igreja dos Congregados etc), the Torre dos Clerigos and Sao Francisco churches etc.

In the harbour quarters, Cais da Ribeira, one can find many restaurants and bars, and it is a nice place for an afternoon or evening stroll and for a glass of wine.

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Douro Porto City - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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My favourite Riviera hotel

>> Sunday, 9 January 2011



hotel riviera arcachon bordeaux france

(Sunday photo...)

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Arcachon, Gironde, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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Arcachon is an hour away from Bordeaux. It is situated in the Bassin d'Arcachon and so protected from the Atlantic winds. It is a familiar place to anyone who likes oysters but Arcachon is of course also a big holiday resort for the French.


The town itself has around 12 000 inhabitants and probably a lot more in the summer. Its big attraction is the long, beautiful and sandy coast and all the seafood restaurants. Arcachon is famous for its oysters and mussels but a lot of fish is also caught in the waters outside its coast.


If you get tired of the beach you can have a pleasant walk through la Ville d'hiver (the Winter Town) with its many grand and fanciful villas, built around 100 years ago.

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Bordeaux Arcachon - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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How to stop it! (corks)

>> Friday, 7 January 2011



natural corks of different ages and lengths

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Cork, bottle stoppers, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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Cork, that we can call “natural cork”, come from the bark of the cork oak tree. The biggest producer of cork is Portugal that has some 80% of all the world’s cork production. Over the last few decades there has been a tremenduous development in the production of bottle stoppers (which is a broader term: the “natural cork” has lost market share. Instead of this we have become used to seeing plastic corks, screw caps, and even glass stoppers.

The natural cork has no been immobile either. First they have worked hard on improving the manufacturing process and improving the quality of the corks (e.g. by reducing the incidences of cork taint from TCA; 2,4,6-tricholoroanisole). They have also developed various new techonologies, e.g. Diam and Mytik with the same purpose.

In summary, there are:
- natural corks (chunks of the cork bark)
- technical corks, made e.g. from glued together grains of cork, or by special processes
- synthetic corks, corks made from various types of plastic
- screw cap, made from aluminium with a plastic (silicon) liner
- glass stoppers (also with a silicon liner)

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Cork - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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One of the oddest hotels (Convento, Zamora, Spain)

>> Thursday, 6 January 2011



hotel el convento restaurant interior , Coreses spain castile and leon

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Hotel Convento, Coreses, Zamora, Castilla y Leon, Spain, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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Hotel Convento is certainly one of the oddest hotels we have been to. Hotel Convento is in Corses near Zamora, in the Castilla y Leon region (Castile and Leon) in north-west Spain. It is not very old be it certainly looks like it when you are inside.

Calling it the Convent is perhaps a bit misleading - if that brings up an image of frugality and sparse decoration. It is by far the most outlandishly decorate hotel I've seen. There is a bit of everything, gilt, gilt and gilt, baroque, an altar painting and wood carving at reception, armoury, a dining room (refectory) of amazing splendour, four poster beds, another dining room where the ceiling is painted in medieval religious style... And an Egyptian style night club. It is perhaps not the most tasteful but it is amazing. There is also a spa.

And next door (part of the same establishment) there is the Bodegas Zamoranas winery.

http://www.hotel-convento.com

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Castilla y Leon Zamora Coreses Hotel el Convento - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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Valladolid, a city worth visiting (Castilla y Leon, Spain)

>> Wednesday, 5 January 2011



restaurant terrace plaza mayor Valladolid spain castile and leon

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Valladolid city, Castilla y Leon, Spain, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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Valladolid is a city in the north west of Spain. It is the capital of the region Castilla y Leon (Castile and Leon). To reach it one can either use the (somewhat) international airport of Valladolid or take a 2 hour train ride from Madrid. It has a population of a little over 300,000 inhabitants. Valladolid is a good starting point to explore the wine regions of north-west Spain: Ribera del Duero, Cigales, Rueda, Zamora etc.

Valladolid is a charming city with many sights: the cathedral Catedral Metropolitana, San Benito and San Miguel churches, Santa Maria la Antigua, Iglesia de San Pablo with its impressive stone carvings, Colegio Santa Cruz… You should not miss the Plaza Mayor with the statue of Count Ansurez and the city hall. There is a university with an impressive baroque façade, the Casa de Cervantes etc

There are many restaurants, cafes and bars in Valladolid. You should try the traditional tapas, or the modern style with inspiration from molecular cooking. A gastronomic speciality is the suckling lamb, or local cheese – many excellent sheep cheese is made in the region.

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Castilla y Leon Valladolid city - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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An unusual winery decoration: naked women in the ceiling (Bodegas Zamoranas, Spain)

>> Tuesday, 4 January 2011



stainless steel tanks decorated ceiling Bodegas Vinas Zamoranas, DO Tierra del Vino de Zamora , Coreses spain castile and leon

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Bodegas Vinas Zamoranas, Tierra del Vino de Zamora, Castilla y Leon, Spain, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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Bodegas Vinas Zamoranas is, you guessed, a winery in Coreses near the city of Zamora in north-west Spain, in the region of Castilla y Leon (Castile and Leon). It is part of the same group as the amazing hotel Hotel Convento, sharing also the same grounds.

The winery, it is said, is installed in a building that was previously used as a night club, which accounts for the unusual decorations, with naked women and astral signs painted in the ceiling. The vinification equipment is modern, with temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.

They make a range of wines: Vina Malva is a semi-sweet white wine made from the verdejo grape carrying the DO (denominacion de origin) Tierra del Vino de Zamora. Tres Santos is red wine from the district Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon made from tinta de toro grapes (tempranillo). Tres Santos Roble has in addition been aged for some time in oak barrels. Vina Augusta is a red wine blend with tinta de toro and tempranillo (in other words, tempranillo and tempranillo). Verbo Divino is a semi-sweet white wine made from the grape variety muscatel de grano menudo (muscat à petit grains) with DO Tierra del Vino de Zamora. Novo Roble is a red tempranillo wine.

http://www.hotel-convento.com

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Castilla y Leon Tierra del Vino de Zamora Bodegas Vinas Zamoranas - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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What a land to grow vines in! (Bodegas Vinas del Cenit, Spain)

>> Monday, 3 January 2011







tempranillo gobelet training old vine sandy soil Bodegas Vinas del Cenit, DO Tierra del Vino de Zamora spain castile and leon

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Bodegas Vinas del Cenit, Tierra del Vino de Zamora, Castilla y Leon, Spain, stock photography samples, by Per Karlsson, BKWine.

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Bodegas Vinas del Cenit is a winery located near the small town Villanueva de Campean in the Tierra del Vino (Denominacion de Origen Tierra del Vino de Zamora) region in north western Spain. It is near the Duero river and near the DO Toro. The winery itself is an isolated building, almost warehouse-looking, on a small hill at the end of a dirt road.

The main grape variety grown in the vineyards is tempranillo (also called tinta de toro). There is also some muscatel and malvasia. The vineyards are on a variety of different soil types, including calcareous sand stone and sand. Vines are spaced wide, the climate is hot and dry and water is scarce, and yields are very low. Most vines are trained (pruned) in the gobelet (bush vine) free standing system, without supporting wires. There are even some ungrafted vines in the vineyard. Why these wines survive and are not attacked by the vine louse is a mystery.

Bodegas Viñas del Cenit makes two main wines, both red. Venta Mazarron is made from tempranillo and carries the denomination Tierra del Vino de Zamora. It is aged for some time (8 months) in oak barrel and has a deep colour. The other wine is simply called Cenit, is also a tempranillo wine but with longer oak barrel aging – almost two years. Both wines are very substantial and modern in style.

http://www.bodegascenit.com

All images © copyright Per Karlsson, BKWine. Images may not be used without our permission.


Castilla y Leon Tierra del Vino de Zamora Bodegas Vinas del Cenit - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson

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