Courage for quality: Rita Ferreira Marques and her wine project
Portugal's young star, Rita Ferreira Marques, took over her family's land in the Teja Valley in the 1990s and introduced new methods to wine growing.
As a student at the University of Bordeaux, she also worked as a flying winemaker in South Africa, California and New Zealand. This means that Marques worked as an oenologist for several wineries and therefore frequently flew back and forth between the facilities.
Learning her craft in different countries outside of Portugal has helped her bring cultivation into different contexts. Because during her time abroad, she has seen and experienced everything from large factories, where machines do most of the work, to hand-picking in smaller wineries.
In addition to these numerous experiences, she also had a special influence on her apprenticeship with Dirk van der Niepoort. The Dutchman has a weakness for Portuguese white wines with complexity and spice, which is also reflected in the Conceito wines today.
In 2005 Marques decided to finally venture out on his own and with his own name and opened the Winery Conceito . As the first in the family, she no longer sold the grapes that her ancestors planted along the Douros exclusively to big port wine houses, but kept the best ones to make her own quality wine: fine and elegant wines with a lot Freshness and minerality.
Even then, their credo was: away from mass production towards individual class. This earned her a lot of criticism. But after her resounding success - her great quality wines are popular all over the world and have been awarded international prizes - she is now also celebrated at home in Portugal.
In between, she even returned to New Zealand to produce her Conceito Sauvignon Blanc in the Marlborough region in a classic European style.
Conceito Vinho: quality wine with a concept
The name Conceito Vinho means something like concept wine and stands for the quality-conscious project by Marques.
On the 70 hectares of vineyards of the winery, planted with Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Amarela etc., the climatic conditions are rather cool - unlike further down the Douro.
The winery is divided into four vineyards:
- Quinta da Veiga (20 hectares),
- Quinta do Chao-do-Pereiro (20 hectares),
- Quinta do Cabido (23 hectares)
- and a vineyard of 10 hectares with granite soil planted exclusively with white wines.
Each vineyard is characterized by a special microclimate.
The deep understanding of the region and its peculiarities are the cornerstone of the project that inspired Conceito Vinho.
The harvest is done by hand, so that the first selection can take place directly at the harvest. The care of the vineyards takes place without the use of chemicals and is very close to nature. The declared goal is to create wines with a good balance between terroir and freshness.
With the increasing popularity of the region's wines, the number of active investors has also increased. This has led to an expansion of the cultivation area, which has also led to the revitalization of forgotten places in the Teja Valley.
Conceito offers a wide range of wines including white, red, rosé, bastardo, porto tawny and porto vintage. Every year the young winery produces 120,000 bottles of wine in Portugal, 25,000 in New Zealand and 5,000 in South Africa. This makes Rita one of the most dynamic young producers in all of Portugal. 98% of the products are exported to more than 20 countries such as Brazil, Switzerland, Canada and Norway.
In just a few years, Conceito Vinho has developed into a winery with an aura of quality and individuality that is recognized, sought after and valued by consumers around the world.
The Conceito wines - The wine repertoire of Marques
The contrast Tinto
The Contraste Tinto has a seductive bouquet of blackberries and mulberries. Enriched with fine balsamic notes, it has an animating acidity with lots of fruit and a hint of liquorice.
The Contraste Branco convinces with an intensive tropical and lemony bouquet, a full volume and an extraordinary lightness. The wine exudes a mineral freshness that one would not normally associate with such a southern wine country as Portugal.
It traditionally goes well with fish, seafood and sushi.
In this red wine there are earthy spice notes and aromas of small berries and pepper. The Conceito Tinto is characterized by its "classic Douro character". It is elegant, smoky with full structure and freshness and goes particularly well with game dishes and duck.
The wine initially surprises with its fine mineral structure in aroma and taste. The Conceito Branco is clear and explosive like a raging mountain stream, and its power makes it appear delicate and unbridled at the same time. The expansion in small barriques gives it additional strength, melt and structure.
It goes well with fish and seafood, as well as with risotto, veal and chicken.
The Conceito Bastardo is obtained from the Bastardo grape, which is characterized by a strikingly light color. This grape was very popular until the 18th century, but then fell into oblivion as deep red wines in particular became more popular.
However, young Portuguese winemakers have since rediscovered this grape and we can enjoy the warm notes of herbs and cherries that this wine brings out so beautifully.
This wine lets the ancient roots of the Douro region speak in a light and seductive way. Conceito Legítimo is a wine of joy: friendly, intense and with depth, velvety and with a long finish.
A perfect companion at the table. It goes well with cheese, pasta, pizza, salami.
Tawny port 10 years
The sweet taste of caramelized walnuts mixes with cotton candy and dried fruits. The earthy notes and aromas of ripe figs combine in the mouth to form a perfect symbiosis.
The subtle but lasting sweetness in the finale makes this 10-year-old Tawny Port the perfect companion for a cheese platter or powerful desserts.
Conceito pressed in New Zealand and South Africa
After Marques' internships abroad, she decided to return to New Zealand and South Africa again. There she wanted to revive the classic European style of winemaking, which people on the other side of the world were less used to.
Conceito Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
The Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, the largest wine region in New Zealand, impresses with its intense aromas and excellent quality, for which the Sauvignon Blanc from the region is known.
The aromas of gooseberries, herbs and green fruits are very cool and juicy on the palate, almost tart and have a crisp minerality.
Conceito Breedekloof South Africa red
This blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon was pressed by the Portuguese winemaker Rita Marques in South Africa.
After months of aging in French oak barrels, the fine roasted aromas of these classic Bordeaux grape varieties are particularly velvety. Aromas of dark chocolate and ripe plums make this red a palate flatterer with character.
Another interesting article about Rita appeared in Wine Enthusiast .
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