Our car engine died right after we got to the Aldeia Galega, a cute tiny village located in Alenquer region of Portugal, just northwest of Lisbon. This is where Quinta de Chocapalha has its picturesque vineyards nestled between the sun-bathed hills surrounding the village.
Quinta de Chocapalha: About the winery
The grape has been grown on this property since the 16th century when it belonged to Diogo Duff, a brave Scottish man of noble origin. In 1980s Alice and Paulo Tavares da Silva fell in love with Chocapalha and decided this was the place to realize their winemaking dream. It took them about 20 years to get the level of quality and reputation they were aiming for. Today, this small family run wine estate makes some of the best wines in Portugal showing what can be done in this may be not so popular wine region. Paulo is in charge of the vineyards, Alice looks after wine tourism. Both of their daughters are involved in the family business. Sandra (known by her successful project ‘Wine & Soul‘ in Douro valley) is the enologist in charge, and Andrea is responsible for all things marketing and sales.
Quinta de Chocapalha: Climate, Soil & the Vineyard
The property consists of 80 hectares, 45 of which are planted with traditional grape varieties such as Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Arinto as well as international – Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay. The vineyards are about 25-30 years old, and produce very balanced wines with good structure and complexity.
The climate is temperate due to an Atlantic influence, fresh in summer and mild in the winter. The winery located a little bit inland where hills and mountains offer some protection from winds of the Atlantic, so the grape can ripen well here. Combination of the hilly landscape, some north-facing, and clay-limestone soils results in the vineyards particularly well suited to produce fresh whites and elegant reds with good density and richness.
The name Chocapalha is derived from two words, meaning ‘warm wind’ (choca) and ‘calm water flowing down the valley’(palha) – the estate has three natural water wells.
Quinta de Chocapalha: The Wines
The flagship red wine of the estate is ‘Vinha Mãe’ (‘The Mother Vine’ in Portuguese). Sourced from the oldest vineyards of the family’s estate, this wine is a beautiful combination of indigenous (Touriga, Tinta Roriz) and international (Surah) varieties, resulting in the rich and elegant wine with wonderful aging capacity. CH by Chocapalha is a tribute to the Swiss origin of the Tavares da Silva family (International Initials for Switzerland (CH)). Chocapalha Arinto is made of 25-years-old Arinto vines, a flagship white variety of the Lisboa region often used to add freshness to blends, but very interesting on its own.
Quinta de Chocapalha: Wine Tourism
The couple lives right here at the estate in the charming old house, kept in almost pristine condition, probably since the times when Diogo Duff lived here. In contrast, the new cellar is built in contemporary minimalist style, making it almost invisible if you look from the downside hill. You can visit the vineyards and take a walk through the estate, including the cellar where wine is made and stored to age. The wine tastings take place in a separate building where you can sample the wine and relax by the pool.
It was already getting dark when we finished the tasting. Feeling happy and inspired we said goodbye to Paulo and Alice, hoping our car would never start, so we could stay in this welcoming house a little longer.
Visit Quinta de Chocapalha: 2580-081 Aldeia Galega da Merceana Tel.:+351 263 769 317, firstname.lastname@example.org www.chocapalha.com
Visit Wine & Soul winery in Douro Valley by Sandra Tavares da Silva and Jorge Serôdio Borges: Av.Júlio de Freitas l Vale de Mendiz 5085-101 Pinhão Portugal Tel.: +351 254 738 076 www.wineandsoul.com
Follow Sandra on Instagram @sandratavareswineandsoul
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