Fine Port wines have been produced at the Senhora Do Convento property in Tavora, Portugal, within the heart of the Douro Valley, for the past 9 centuries and continues to this day. The impressive 12th Century Monastery still stands on the 150 hectare property that overlooks a 27 hectare vineyard where the grapes for fine wine were originally grown by Cistercian monks.
Besides growing grapes, the large property also has numerous almond, quince, cherry, peach, orange and fig trees along with the woods of chestnut, cork, wild cherry, oak and pine trees, many of which were planted by the Cistercian monks ages ago.
In 2006, a state-of-the-art gravity flow winery was built adjacent to the monastery to produce fine Port and table wines.
If you're new to port wine, you should find out your Port Personality on SDC's website where you can learn more about their entry-level Ruby and Tawny Ports. You will also find interesting cocktail recipes using these two port wines.
One of the most interesting things that Victoria spoke to me about was the romantic legend of Ardinia at the monastery. The love story begins with Ardinia attempting to flee to the monastery to be with her love and also convert to Christianity. Unfortunately for Ardinia, her dream was not realized as her father followed her to the monastery one day and in his rage beheaded his daughter. There have been rumours of a lady dressed in white lace known to make an appearance to the men who arrive on site. Strange sounds and objects being shifted have also been reported over the years.
The next time I visit Portugal, I am definitely making a point to visit Senhora Do Convento, and if courage allows, spend a night on the property.
Thank you to Eurovintage, Donald and Victoria for the opportunity to taste these wines. Full wine reviews of all the wines tasted are provided below. A couple of these wines are available at the LCBO, while the remainder can be purchased through Eurovintage.
SENHORA DO CONVENTO DOURO RED 2012 - Douro, Portugal (XD) - $18.95
Medium+ intensity aromas of oak spice, red fruits, spices, herbs and a hint of lavender. Soft, integrated tannins on the medium+ bodied palate with nice aroma replays. Good acids. Bitter on the medium-to-long finish. Blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz. Score: 88 pts
SENHORA DO CONVENTO AGUIAS 2012 - Douro, Portugal (XD) - $39.95
All estate fruit. Nose somewhat closed but showed black cherry, blackberry and vanillan oak aromas which echoed on the soft, rounded palate. It has balanced acids and a lengthy finish. Score: 87 pts
QUINTA DO CONVENTO 2009 - DOC Douro, Portugal (XD) - $24.95
A blend of 25-year-old Touriga Nacional and 22-year-old Tinta Roriz, both from schist soils, and Touriga Franca from granitic soils. Pleasing, elegant nose showing good savoury/fruit balance with notes of tilled earth, forest floor, dark berry, cherry and spice aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with nice aroma replays and a mineral component. It is well-balanced with tannins nicely integrated, good structure and balanced acidity. The smooth finish is very long. Score: 90+ pts
SDC RUBY PORT - Portugal (#398230) (S) - $16.95
Pleasing aromas of ripe berries, blackberry jam, and some herbal complexity that follow through on the sweet palate. Soft mouthfeel, smooth with some alcohol heat on the long finish. Score: 87 pts
SDC TAWNY PORT - Portugal (#398248) (S) - $16.95
Highly aromatic and perfumed nose with dried fig, raisin, caramel, brown sugar, vanilla and cherry notes with nice, sweet flavour replays. The medium-bodied palate become a touch hot mid-palate. The finish length is very good with spice and hazelnut flavours. Score: 86 pts
SENHORA DO CONVENTO 10 YEAR TAWNY PORT - Douro, Portugal (#298554) (MS) - $19.95
Golden amber colour. Medium-to-high aromatics of butter caramel, dried cherry, brown sugar, fig and woody notes. On the palate, it's medium-bodied and quite sweet with wood, mineral, butter caramel and vanilla flavours. It has good acidity and a very good length on the finish. Score: 88 pts
SENHORA DO CONVENTO 20 YEAR TAWNY PORT - Douro, Portugal (S) - $29.95
Golden amber colour. Highly aromatic nose featuring burnt caramel, brown sugar, and vanilla. The palate is medium+ bodied with hints of Meyer lemon and spice to go along with echoes from the aroma profile. Good, crisp finish. Score: 89 pts
SENHORA DO CONVENTO VINTAGE PORT 2009 - Douro, Portugal (S) - $28.95
Deep, dark red, almost black colour. Medium+ intensity aromas of cherry, red berry compote, subtle oak spice and some tartness on the nose. It's full-bodied with lovely cherry liquer and black cherry flavours. Smooth with balanced acids and a finish that goes on and on. Score: 91 pts
SENHORA DO CONVENTO VINTAGE PORT 2011 - Douro, Portugal (S) - $89.95
Dark red colour. Medium+ intensity nose of blackberry liquer, dark cherry and some white pepper spice. On the palate, it's full-bodied with very nice, balanced aroma replays and subtle oak spice. Excellent alcohol, fruit, oak, acid and tannin balance. Smooth, lingering finish. Very good structure will allow this port to age for 20 years. Score: 92 pts