One can not have a serious discussion about the wines of the Douro Valley without including the Nicolau de Almeida family.
João Nicolau de Almeida, who's mother's family once owned the majority of the Ramos Pinto Port house, joined the Ramos Pinto team in 1976. Through his almost 40 year career with the company he was an instrumental figure in the emergence of table wines and increase in quality as a whole. He along with José António Ramos PintoRosas helped identify the five recommended varieties of the region. He introduced the vertical vines to the Douro, and along the way was the director of two important Port-centric associations.
Another important "accomplishment" in João's life are his two son' s João and Mateus, along with his daughter Mafalda. The four together, are all involved in a dream "project" called Quinta do Monte Xisto.
Over the course of 15 years, João purchased 20 parcels of what would become known as Quinta do Monte Xisto. Located at the mouth of the Côa River, near the town ofVila Nova de Foz Côa, "SchistMountain" is 40 hectares in total, with 10 hectares planted to a mixture of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Souzão.
It is one of only two vineyards in all of Douro Superior that have both north and south facing vineyards. This is in large part what makes Monte Xisto so special, and as a wine, so balanced.
João has worked this vineyard since the beginning based on organic and biodynamic practices. It is an incredibly labor intensive vineyard.
The wine is produced at a winery just down the road, which has been carved out of schist. It isn't fancy, but it allows the family to produce the wine with tradition. The grapes are foot tread in lagars, fermentation begins spontaneously, and the wine is aged predominantly in 600L French oak (along with a small amount of Austrian oak).