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Barca Velha has been chosen numerous times by Portuguese bodies for official receptions of civilian, military and religious world dignitaries, including the Pope.
Vinified in the Quinta da Leda winery, using selected grapes mainly from this estate, but also from elevated areas in the Douro Superior. After destemming and gentle crushing, the grapes were put into stainless steel vats, where alcoholic fermentation took place. A long, gentle maceration was carried out at a controlled temperature in order to extract the compounds that contribute to the colour, aroma, flavour and longevity of the wine. It was matured in barrels of French oak for a period of about 18 months. The final blend was made based on the careful selection of the best wines, resulting from the numerous tastings and analyses carried out on the different existing blends and barrels, throughout this period. It is in this selection that the "secret" of Barca-Velha lies. So as to preserve the highest quality, it was subjected to filtration only before bottling.
The name Barca Velha ("Old Boat") is associated with a(n old) boat which in those days crossed the Douro, near the farms where the wine was produced.
There is only one bottle of the first Barca Velha harvest left- a magnum from 1952, of incalculable value today.
In more than half a century of existence, Barca Velha had only 16 harvests and three winemakers: Fernando Nicolau de Almeida, the mythical creator of this precious wine, was able to pass on a deep love of the Douro to José Maria Soares Franco and Luís Sottomayor, the latter now the winemaking director for all Sogrape Vinhos’ Douro region wines.
It should be placed vertically the day before drinking and opened 2 to 3 hours before serving. With so many years in the bottle, the wine should be carefully decanted to separate its natural sediment. Ideally, it should be served at 16ºC-18ºC.
It is suggested that it be savoured calmly, paired with more elaborate meat dishes, game and even some cheeses, with exquisite, well integrated flavours.