This month FTLOP is proud to introduce you to Miguel Braga who is the owner/ oenologist at Quinta do Mourão. His Tawny Ports with indication of age are some of the greatest Tawny Ports made in the Douro. If you’ve never had the good fortune to try Mourão’s 30 or 40 Year Old that goes under the S. Leonardo label, you’re missing out on something extraordinary. Miguel is also responsible for the very fine DOC wines produced at Quinta do Mourão and happens to be one cool dude.
Here is Miguel’s story:
1. How did you break into the Porto and Douro wine trade and at what age?
I started in 1999, after my father died, and I was 37 years old. The story is simple and is a “love at first site” story. My father bought the quintas in 1972, when I was 10 years old. So I grew up with and in Douro. I was happy in Douro. So when my father died, the family took the decision to continue and develop the project, and I´m here ever since.
2. What is your favorite style of Douro wine and also Port to drink at home, and can you name two or three of the greatest one’s you’ve ever tried?
Douro, I prefer red, old, body and silky. Even at home I prefer to drink until 2007. Port, I prefer old tawny.
Douro – Barca Velha 1999 and Vale Meão 2003.
Port – The best have been from cask in private cellars, as you can imagine, from 1870, 1895 and 1900. Port bottles with a label, I think that the Andresen 1910, (bottled in 2010, the first one) is excellent.
3. Besides wines from your own company, what others do you most enjoy drinking?
Wines from Douro, certainly, from Vallado, Real Companhia Velha and Port from Taylor’s and Baldias.
4. What brings you the most joy in what you do within the Douro wine trade?
Seeing the people’s face when they try for the first time an old tawny port and also when they initially see the Douro landscape.
5. Would you please share one piece of unique trivia or historical information about your company that would be new to FTLOP readers?
The name of our Port wine - S. Leonardo. We have two quintas … one on each side of the Quinta S. Leonardo. In each “quinta” lives a family that we call “caseiros” (the family that takes care of the “quinta”). In this case they are brothers. In times before they didn’t have phones, so they would go to meet at S. Leonardo, which is in the middle of both. We can say that when you take a S. Leonardo Port, you meet a brother.
6. Which individual has been your greatest mentor and how have they inspired you?
My father showed me the love for Douro and honor in business.
7. What is the greatest challenge facing the Douro wine trade today?
Give the grape growers an income so they can continue to produce. For that we have to increase the quality and prices. We can’t produce grapes at the same price as other regions. As you know the agriculture in Douro is very hard and expensive, with low production per hectare and it is really labor intensive. So the challenge is to put Douro wines and special Ports on the top.
8. Can you share one new project or improvement that your company is involved with?
No, it is a secret. We are planting a new “quinta” in Gouvinhas, which is on the right side of Douro River, between Régua and Pinhão, not far from S. Leonardo.
9. What can the industry do to improve the promotion and education of Port and Douro wine and grow market share in the ever evolving beverage marketplace?
I think that the better promotion is to show Douro region to the world and show how different we are from others. Educate the people how to drink Port wine - with several kinds of food (remember the tuna fish with the 10 years old tawny as an aperitif) and in different occasions.
10. What non-wine activities do you enjoy?
Football, sorry, soccer, a book, a movie and good food.
The FTLOP series, Port Personalities In Focus, alternates with A Question for the Port Trade every other month. In Focus concentrates on bridging the gap, introducing readers to people who are not usually in the media’s spotlight, with some license to occasionally “interview” someone that is. In Focus brings you candid comments, personal perspectives, and a better understanding of the people inside the trade. From sales and marketing professionals, to master blenders, winemakers and vineyard managers, to distributors and importers, owners and managing directors; In Focus will introduce you to Port personalities who work at small family-owned operations to the largest wine companies in Portugal. We hope you’ll benefit from meeting the people on these pages!