Jorge Moreira graduated with a degree in ‘Winemaking’ in 1995 from the Vila Real University (with his post degree training done in Italy). Jorge then joined ‘Real Companhia Velha’ for seven years and was involved in the initial development of their Fine Wine Division. He focused on researching the most ideal grape varietals and their adaptation to different viticultural practices so as to craft wines of an international standard and quality.
Jorge travelled across Portugal and abroad, participating in wine fairs around the world - taking the opportunity to sample as many wines and meet with as many winemakers as possible. All this being essential for him, as he could then better define what he liked and the style of wine he wanted to make.
At the time, most of this work was focused in and around Vila Nova da Gaia in Porto - though Jorge wanted to be closer to the actual vineyards in the heart of the Douro, as he was keen to start making his own wine.
In 2001 with this in mind, Jorge bought a small vineyard ‘Quinta da Terra Feita de Cima’ in the Pinhão valley of the Douro and started making his own wine ‘Poeira’. Then in 2002 he started working at Quinta de La Rosa. At La Rosa he worked on each vineyard, making improvements and investments enabling him to discover the true expression that marks La Rosa's style today. In 2005, the Bergqvist family purchased, with the invaluable help of Jorge, ‘Quinta das Bandeiras’ in Douro Superior (a 100-hectare property not far from Pocinho) - where Jorge started producing ‘Passagem’ wines.
Quinta de la Rosa remains one of the few ‘Single Quintas’ where the vineyards start at the bank of the Douro River and rise some 450 meters to the top of the mountain range above the winery. From the river's edge to the top row of vines, they have 11 different micro-climates, with each perfectly understood for their contribution to the final blends. La Rosa has 55 hectares of vines in the Cima Corgo, 7ha of vines are at 100m, 10ha at 150m and the rest between 250 and 450m above the Douro. This gives La Rosa great control and flexibility to add variety and complexity to each of its unique wines.
Quinta de la Rosa started with Tim and Sophia Bergqvist back in 1988 and for the past 14 years with the focus and passion from Jorge - expressing inside each bottle of wine; pride, courage, tradition and the determination to produce the finest product from in one of natures' most difficult climactic wine regions.
Jorge is happily married to Olga Martins and they have two beautiful children and when he is not making wine enjoys a variety of sports and keeping fit when he can, by running up and around the stunning mountains which are his backyard.
I recently had the pleasure to interview Jorge and find out more about his background, influences, philosophies and insights, since his arrival on becoming chief winemaker at Quinta de la Rosa - so here are some of his thoughts.
What first attracted you to the Port / Wine industry and as a winemaker?
It was by accident - I started to study oenology not knowing what I wanted to do in life but after my first vintage I was hooked for life!
When and where did you study winemaking?
I started to study oenology / winemaking at Universidade de Trás-os-Montes back in 1992.
Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
The first winemaker I worked with; Jerry Luper. I learned from him that to create wines which really show their terroir, that your science must be solid and you must pay attention to every detail.
What is your favourite grape varietal(s) to work with and why?
Touriga Nacional - First of all it’s an indigenous Portuguese grape varietal. Quite unique because it’s a grape that gets really ripe, big and structured - but always keeps its freshness with good acidity and a floral twist in the middle of all that ripe fruit. Lots of personality, easy to recognize and very expressive in the wine, and it really shows from where the vineyard is planted. When you taste a Touriga Nacional wine you can know if the vines are old or young, and if they were planted at high or low altitude and the region etc. Plus it makes excellent Douro red wines and exceptional Port wines.
Since your first vintage what is the biggest advancement you have seen in making quality Port and wine?
To be honest in the Douro - it is like a different world today, both in the vineyards and in the winery-cellars. I could talk a long time about all the technical differences that we have made. But for me what is most important is that we moved away from trying to make the most impressive, structured and perfect wines. To make wines where the balance, elegance and expression of the vineyards are our main focus.
With each new vintage what do you look forward to most?
Every vintage is like a miracle where new wines are born. Wines which are unpredictable, with new personalities, that bring us new challenges and which teach us a lot. These challenges and learning are what I look forward too the most every year.
To date what has been your most interesting / challenging vintage and why?
It was the Vintage of 2002 where I was making wine for the last time at Real Companhia Velha (it was my thoughts at the time because after 7 years I return to RCV) and at the same time for the first time at 'Quinta de la Rosa' and also starting my personal project 'Poeira' - (2002 was the second vintage). Plus - what made things worst, it was an extremely difficult vintage with lots of rain.
Which person ‘past’ or ‘present’ would you most like to meet and why?
Dona Antonia Ferreira - a woman with a vision and a strength who helped to shape the Douro Wine Region as we know it today.
For your next birthday dinner - if you could open and enjoy any bottle of Port or Wine in the world ever-made - what would it be and why?
Noval Nacional 1931 - it was a wine I tasted many years ago alongside some of the best 1927 Ports. The Noval was so much younger than the others that was unbelievable - so I really want to see how the wine is now.
If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
Any place with very old vines and no traditions on producing wines. I love to discover new ways of expressing the vines and fruit into wine.
What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
Travel, meet people, read, listen to music, art, follow politics, inform yourself about what’s happening in the world, experiment with new foods, discover what you like and what you don’t. Turn yourself into an interesting person because interesting people make interesting wines.
When you are ‘not’ making Port and wine - what is one of your favourite things to do to relax?
Sports..., travel and spending quality time with family and friends.
In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your Ports and wines, vineyards or in the winery?
I want my wines to be more and more authentic - and my vineyards in perfect balance with nature.
Quinta de la Rosa Port wines are available in New Zealand and around the world from quality wine retailers and restaurants. Or visit their website: Quinta de la Rosa.