João Nicolau Almeida & Filhos

João Nicolau de Almeida is at it again. The man who modernized the Douro, studied its native varietals, pioneered vertical planting in its slopes, and created some of the region's most famous wines (Duas Quintas, for instance) retired from Ramos Pinto in 2015, but has not stopped striving for greatness. (It is not surprising considering his family history: his mother’s family owned much of Ramos Pinto and his father created the iconic Barca Velha). He is now making one of Portugal’s most elegant wines, the Quinta do Monte Xisto.

In the early 90's, João started acquiring vineyards in an eastern part of the Douro Superior near the mouth of the Côa River, and by 2005 he started planting grapes in the 40 hectare estate. The work on the land has been biodynamic and organic since the beginning, and now, with 10 hectares planted with the native grapes he historically helped to identify and study, he makes a wine with his sons João and Mateus (of the Trans Douro Express and Eremitas wines).

The family built a winery into the schist near the vineyard, and there they foot-trod their wines in stone lagars. The wine ferments spontaneously and is aged in 600L barrels, mostly of French origin, but with some barrels coming from Austria.