Quinta das Marias Alfrocheiro, Dao Standout in Wine Enthusiast

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We have long been fans of Quinta das Marias. Earlier this year, we called them "impeccable". It does indeed seem to be the Year of Quinta das Marias. Knowing the producer, we know why: it is impossible to imagine working with a producer who is more passionate about their work, wines, and family of staff members than the Quinta. Quinta das Marias, for me, has long been synonymous with unwavering commitment to excellence.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine has published in its November edition a piece about why Portuguese wines are all the rage. In it, check out their recent review of Quinta das Marias Alfrocheiro, an excellent pour now and a wine that, due to its robust tannic and acidity structure, has high ageing potential. Alfrocheiro is a native grape variety to Portugal, and to the Dao in particular, that is absolutely worth discovering. It is notable for its potential to make dense, full bodied and elegant wines with well balanced and notable acidity and tannins. Quinta das Marias, once again, is a poster child for excellence from the Dao region.

Full article here.

Photo credit above: Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Meg Baggott

The Year of Quinta das Marias

This Spring, Firo was so proud to announce Quinta das Marias's feature in The New York Times. We've been thrilled to partner with this outstanding winery from day 1: this exclusive, boutique family-owned Quinta is run impeccably by the most gracious and affable family and winemaking team. The property itself is stunning, one of those places that makes you breathe in deep and thank life for this place and time. And the wines are stunning: unique gems that are authentically Dao, made meticulously, impeccably, and artfully.  Quinta das Marias is simply flawless.

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simply flawless.

Turns out, the international press is catching on. This seems to be the Year of Quinta das Marias. 

Congratulations to the Quinta for recently published recognition on the wines that we've long known to be phenomenal:

Quinta das Marias Encruzado 2015
92 points, Wine Advocate (June 2017)

"This seems like a pretty terrific Encruzado in the making. It is still young and unevolved, of course, but it has fine concentration, precision and a dry, serious finish." - Mark Squires for The Wine Advocate

Quinta das Marias Alfrocheiro 2015
90 points, Wine Enthusiast (Aug 2017)
90 points, Wine Advocate (June 2017)

"This is always one of the winery's most enjoyable wines, one that just screams Burgundy and Pinot Noir. On the lighter side in the mid-palate this year, it nonetheless adds structure and crispness, finishing with bright, red-fruit flavor and that rather crisp edge. Its mid-palate finesse makes it seem very refined. The intensity of flavor is always great and this is a vintage that plays to that strength" - Mark Squires for The Wine Advocate

Quinta das Marias Cuvee TT 2015
92 points, Wine Enthusiast (Aug 2017)
90 points, Wine Advocate (June 2017)

"Showing the finesse and understatement I expect here, it is also beautifully focused, precise and lingering on the finish. Dry and serious [...]" -Mark Squires for The Wine Advocate

Quinta das Marias Touriga Nacional 2015
90+ points, Wine Advocate (June 2017)

"Those who appreciate finesse and elegance will be pleased [...] it should appeal to fans of Burgundy" - Mark Squires for The Wine Advocate


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Quinta das Marias in NYT: A Standout Encruzado Producer

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Excerpted from The New York Times, 12 Wine Grapes Worth Discovering, by Eric Asimov, March 24, 2017:

“In the distant, cobwebbed past of the early 1980s, when I was first learning about wine, the choices were not so different from what they had been 100 years before.

Within the sparse selections that passed for restaurant wine lists back then, you would find, depending on the food, Bordeaux and Burgundy, Champagne and sherry, or Chiantis and a few other Italian wines. Californian bottles were there, too, as the state emerged from the thrall of the “burgundy” and “chablis” jug wine era. Anything else was conveniently lumped together as “other.”

The exponential change in the past 35 years has been astounding. Even as recently as 2000, a wine like grüner veltliner was unknown in the United States. Now, this Austrian white is a staple in many restaurants across the country, something to embrace if facing a list of newer and still obscure bottles.

In the wine world, obscurity’s meaning can change quickly. In 2012, I wrote about a dozen esoteric grapes that were worth seeking out. That list included assyrtiko from Santorini and frappato from Sicily. Five years later, these grapes, if not yet household words, are at least firmly established.

The choices continue to expand. Here are 12 more little-known, sometimes very rare, grapes worth getting to know, in alphabetical order. Who knows? One or two may be old hat by 2020. 


Encruzado This rare grape accounts for some of the best white wines from the Dão region of northern Portugal, a country far better known for reds. In the hands of good producers like Quinta do Perdigão, Casa de Mouraz and Quinta das Marias, encruzado makes an herbal, earthy, tangy wine, with an intriguing bitter note that lingers. It is refreshing, surprisingly flavorful and well worth trying.”

Check out the full article here.

Wine Spectator's Takeaway: Go Discover Lavradores de Feitoria

Firo partner winery Lavradores de Feitoria has been singled out by the team at Wine Spectator as one of the world's top 30 wineries to discover. Lavradores de Feitoria - 'Feitoria' for short - is a collaborative Douro producer. The ethos: to create best-in-class Douro wines that are elegant and age-worthy, while paying homage to Douro winemaking tradition. Feitoria is a laudable example of strength in numbers. Under the single Feitoria brand, various vineyard owners, growing top-quality grapes in diverse parts of the Douro Valley, have united to create some of the DOC's most exciting wines. Meritocracy is the name of the game, with the best grapes commanding a premium price - all assessed by blind taste tests. 

The result? Consistently extraordinary wines in a range of styles and price points. And 90+ scores across the board from Wine Spectator:

  • Meruge Branco 2014, 90 Points
  • Meruge Tinto 2013, 91 Points
  • Três Bagos Tinto 2013, 90 Points
  • Três Bagos Grande Escolha 2011, 92 Points

Check out a link to the full Wine Spectator feature on Feitoria here.



From Europe's "New Coolest Capital"...

Bloomberg News recently raved about Lisbon as Europe's newest capital of cool, and we're not surprised to see the US media catching on.

Whether you're discovering the amazing wines of Portugal on your first visit to the country, or whether you're a wine connoisseur who has long been in on Portuguese wines, we at Firo are convinced that now is the time to invest in Portugal. Portugal is seeing a tourism boom - in particular from Americans - and absolutely rave reviews in the media. All this fantastic attention underscores what Firo knows well: Portuguese wines are up-and-comers. Watch out for ever-increasing interest from discerning consumers in the wines from this dynamic wine-producing nation.

Get ready. Portuguese wines are the next big thing, and Firo is here to source the absolute best of Portugal for your portfolio.

Check out Bloomberg News' full feature on Lisbon here.

Photo by Joao Trindade. Lisbon Sunset, CC 2.0

Portugal Recognized in Wine Spectator Top 100

Wine Spectator has released today its annual 'Top 100' list, and Firo is delighted to see various Portuguese wines on the prestigious ranking. As far as we're concerned, this year's Top 100 recognition is just the beginning for up-and-comer Portugal. Expect to see more and more news, accolades and excitement internationally about this dynamic winemaking country. And in the meantime, team up with Firo and be the first in the know...

Tres Bagos - Your Go To for the Douro Valley's Top Reds

We at Firo have been raving about partner winery Lavradores de Feitoria all year, and each passing day brings new accolades (and fans) to the Lavradores camp. Of course we're not surprised! You won't be either when you check out two of Lavradores's top late released blends, Tres Bagos Grande Escolha Estagio Prolongado 2005 and Tres Bagos Grande Escolha 2009, which Mark Squires for Robert Parker has just rated 92 points and 91 points, respectively. Firo is delighted to bring you the highly regarded Tres Bagos range - serious, cellar-worthy wines wines that are uniquely Douro. Cheers!

Lavradores de Feitoria's Triple Threat

Meet Lavradores de Feitoria's trio of 90+-rated, premium wines. Meruge Branco, Meruge Tinto and Tres Bagos Grande Escolha have scored an impressive 90, 91 and 92 points from Wine Specatator, respectively.

Meruge Branco 2014 is an elegant, lightly oaked white Douro wine. A Viosinho monovarietal, Meruge Branco has a complex palate of pear, marmalade and vanilla. It pairs perfectly with char-grilled vegetables and is a beautiful complement to a grilled fish.

Meruge Tinto 2013 is the epitome of elegance. This Tinta Roriz monovarietal is made from old Douro vines and reveals a beautifully balanced palate of red fruit, black pepper and spice. Meruge Tinto pairs deliciously with oven-roasted chicken and red peppers. It's the ultimate foodie wine.

Uncork a bottle of the late-released Tres Bagos Grande Escolha 2011 for a seriously impressive table wine to complement some serious eats. Its palate of ripe black cherry, espresso and dark chocolate is the perfect wine to enjoy with a perfectly grilled steak or a gourmet cheese plate. The nose and the palate are iconic Douro. A must have for a special occasion.

A Beautiful 90 Points for Quinta de Santiago Alvarinho Reserva 2014

Firo partner winery Quinta de Santiago has earned a commendable 90 points for the most recently released vintage of its Alvarinho Reserva, and we aren't surprised. Quinta de Santiago's 2014 Alvarinho Reserva is an elegantly oaked, dry Alvarinho monovarietal that holds up gracefully to some serious gastronomy.

A "beautifully balanced" wine and "a great food match," according to eRobertParker. Congratulations to winemaker Joana Santiago and the Quinta de Santiago team for the well-deserved accolades! Firo couldn't be prouder!

The Boston Globe Talks (Gushes about) Portuguese Wines

Firo Cellars has long been a believer in the value and quality of Portuguese wines, so we are always thrilled to see that others concur. This week, The Boston Globe gushed about Portugal's native grape varieties, which it says are key to "why Portuguese pours are growing in popularity and recognition." 

Fancy yourself a wine connoisseur? Then it's time to jump on the Portugal bandwagon (if you haven't already).

Terras de Alter Lauded for Stellar New Releases

Congratulations to Firo partner winery Terras de Alter for well-deserved Wine Enthusiast accolades on newly released vintages.

This month, Wine Enthusiast awarded Terra d'Alter Reserva Red 2013 92 points and an Editor's Choice mention. Uncork a bottle for a luscious Alentejo red that pairs phenomenally with a platter of hard cheeses, grapes and dried fruit.  The winery's Reserva is exceptional, but its entry level has also fared extremely well, earning a Wine Enthusiast Best Buy mention. Firo recently served Terra d'Alter Red 2015 at a summer grill-out featuring hamburgers and vegetable skewers - an absolute crowd pleaser! If varietals are more your thing, be sure to pick up some Terra d'Alter Alicante Bouschet 2014 and Terra d'Alter Touriga Nacional 2014. These Alentejo monovarietals were each awarded 90 points by Wine Enthusiast, and it's no surprise to us. Here at Firo, we're thrilled to see our partner winery being recognized for its hard work and outstanding wines.

Don't just take our word for it. Contact Firo for how to get Terras de Alter's outstanding new vintages in your portfolio. Cheers!

Lavradores de Feitoria Branco 2015 a Success

Firo partner winery Lavradores de Feitoria has hit the ground running with its newly released 2015 vintage. Wine Spectator lauded Lavradores de Feitoria Branco among 12 "white wine treasures" from Portugal in an article released last month. This is a huge success for the winery's entry-level white wine, which has been the subject of much praise amongst locals in Portugal.

Contact Firo for details on how you can get Lavradores de Feitoria Branco in your portfolio!

Quinta de Santiago shines amongst Michelin Stars

Quinta de Santiago shines amongst Michelin Stars

If there’s anything we love here at Firo (in addition to Portuguese wine, of course), it is Girl Power. Firo is so proud of its partner winery Quinta de Santiago, led by the incredible Joana Santiago, which recently played a key role in a truly spectacular foodie evening.

On May 24, Quinta de Santiago featured its 2015 Alvarinho at the Girls ‘n Guts dinner that took place at trendy Cais da Pedra in Lisbon. Girls ‘n Guts featured an all-female cast of rockstar chefs, including Antonia Klugmann from Michelin starred restaurant L’Argine a Venco in Italy. Only top-notch wines could hold up to the seriously good eats featured at Girls ‘n Guts, so it is no surprise that Quinta de Santiago was a main attraction at this much anticipated event! The newly released 2015 vintage of Quinta de Santiago's Alvarinho is distinctive and flavor-forward, the fruit of last year's warm summer months.  A truly outstanding, serious wine from the Vinho Verde region!

Contact Firo for details on how to get this exclusive wine to your table!

Wine Spectator lauds Firo partner Terras de Alter

Wine Spectator lauds Firo partner Terras de Alter

Firo is thrilled to announce that Wine Spectator recently singled out Firo partner Terras de Alter in a recent article! The Wine Spectator piece surveyed 14 Portuguese wines that offer both diversity and excellent value, and Terras de Alter's rosé Fado 2015 was a top pick!

Firo is committed to importing outstanding Portuguese wines. We are so proud of our partner winery and its well-deserved recognition!

A Taste of The Douro Valley

The Douro Valley region of Portugal has so much going in its favor, it’s almost ridiculous.
— New York Times, Eric Asimov

This past Friday, I opened up my copy of The Financial Times, skimming its pages over my morning cup of Portuguese espresso. And there it was: a feature on the Douro Valley and Tony Smith, an English ex-journalist who has set up shop there and is now making wines at Quinta da Boavista. 

I can relate to the desire. My first visit to the Douro was in the summer of 2009, when I was still in law school. I fell in love in a matter of minutes - it's almost impossible not to. The place is visually stunning.  I remember images from my first visit clearly. The sky was clear and egg-shell blue, expansive over the sloped vineyards planted on rugged mountainsides that had the Douro River lapping at their feet. I am not exaggerating when I say that my life was forever changed. Returning to long hours in the library when the beautiful world of the Douro Valley beckoned was heartbreaking. 

The Douro DOC is increasingly the subject of media attention. Eric Asimov of The New York Times put it simply: "The Douro Valley region of Portugal has so much going in its favor, it's almost ridiculous."

Part of what makes the Douro so spectacular is its rich history. It is, in fact, the world's oldest demarcated wine region. It was created in 1756, a full 20 years before the United States became a country! 

Where exactly is this historic, true gem of a wine region? The Douro is in the north of Portugal. It stretches from just east of the city of Porto all the way east to the Spanish-Portuguese border. The Douro is rugged, wild mountain terrain with vineyards planted anywhere between 200 and 850 meters' altitude. The soil in the Douro is as rugged as the landscape, but extremely well-suited to making top quality wines. The soils are primarily schist, which is a type of rock resembling slate. Douro soils are well-draining. They retain ideal amounts of moisture for vine growth - just enough to push the vine to grow its roots deep into the soil, just enough to encourage top-quality grape growth. Douro soils accommodate the often extreme weather conditions in the region, reflecting daytime heat to sustain vines during the crisp, high-altitude evening temperatures. As you can begin to see, the Douro is nothing like your average, cookie-cutter wine region. You could call it a winemaking frontier.

Like many things Portuguese, this wine region comes in a small package. The Douro in its entirety is about the size of the U.S. city of Jacksonville, Florida. About 46,000 hectares (178 square miles) are planted with vineyards. While the total land under vine in the Douro is relatively small, the region is unquestionably rich in resources, with unique grape varieties that are native to it. In fact, many of the Douro's trademark grape varieties aren't grown anywhere else in the world. So if you're thinking wine with character, think Douro. The region's unique grape varieties enable winemakers to produce excellent, inimitable wines: one sip will say 'Douro.' Look out for the most important Douro grape varieties, which include Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cao. If you're a port drinker, these grape varieties will taste familiar to you!

That wraps up a first taste of the Douro Valley. Over the next weeks and months, we'll be posting more about the region, what makes it so unique and what makes its wines so deliciously drinkable. Stay tuned to Firo's Blog for more!

And in the meantime, cheers!

Cathy and the Firo Team

Portugal's Native Grape Varities

Portugal's Native Grape Varities

I take my hat off to the Portuguese that they didn’t allow their vineyards to be completely invaded and swamped by the famous international grape varieties ... they’ve got this heritage as kind of their calling card.
— Jancis Robinson

Here at Firo Cellars, we're huge believers in Portugal's native grape varieties. And we're not the only ones. Earlier this month, world renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson sat down with British wine journalist Amanda Barnes (www.80harvests.com) and spoke of her high regard for Portugal's native grape varieties. See the full video below, or fast forward to minute 4:05 for Ms. Robinson's take on  indigenous Portuguese grapes.

Welcome to Firo

Welcome to Firo

Hello and welcome to Firo!

As you can see, here at Firo we are passionate about the wines of Portugal. In fact, we are passionate about wines generally. Legendary wine critic Michael Broadbent said it better than I can: "Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life's most civilized pleasures." His words bring to mind many memorable moments. 

These come to the forefront: uncorking a bottle of champagne at home the day my now husband and I got married in a civil ceremony involving two guests and a dress code of our favorite blue jeans. Toasting with law school classmates in Albany after we took the New York bar exam. Watching my dad decant a special red to drink over Thanksgiving dinner. Pouring chilled rosé into disposable cups while picnicking in the Champs-de-Mars. Opening a bottle of pinot gris with dear friends after a day of hiking in the mountains as we warmed ourselves by the firelplace. And my first glass of Portuguese wine - it blew me away. 

I should start by saying I probably wouldn't have picked a Portuguese wine, entirely out of ignorance. I was very familiar with Chile, comfortable with Spain, but hadn't heard much about the wines of Portugal. Until I found myself in a small beach town near Lisbon, at a restaurant overlooking the sea. Someone pours me a glass of a white wine made from the Encruzado grape, which is native to Portugal. I tasted it, and immediately I understood that the wine was special. On the palate it was delicate, with notes of citrus and orange blossom and a delightful mouthwatering acidity. In the mouth the wine was beautifully full and slightly oily, yet at the same time refreshingly crisp. I'd never tasted a wine like this before. So when I returned to the US after my visit to Portugal, I was shocked that Encruzado was nowhere to be found.

It turns out, discovering the Encruzado grape was just the tip of the iceberg - Portugal has a wealth of fabulous, distinctive wines waiting to be enjoyed. It is also true that Portugal's hidden gems are incredibly difficult to come by across the Atlantic. So Firo Cellars was born: to bring the best of Portugal's incredibly exciting wine scene to the United States, so that you too can discover the country's phenomenal wines over good food and in good company.

Stay posted to the Firo News/Blog for more about the wines of Portugal. We hope you get to know them, and that you become as enthralled with them as we are here at Firo.

Cheers, Cathy