Conceito Vinhos in the Douro Superior
The two women behind Conceito Vinhos are Carla Costa Ferreira and her daughter, wine-maker, Rita Marques Ferreira. Conceito Vinhos consists of 3 properties in the Douro Superior which total some 79 hectares.
Rita Marques Ferreira has studied enology at the University of Bordeaux with Denis Dubourdieu, has worked a harvest at Niepoort in the Douro; and also at Flagstone with Bruce Jack in Stellenbosch, South Africa and at Villa Maria in Marlborough, New Zealand. Not only has Rita Marques bought a little bit of the New World to the Douro but she was also making a Conceito Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand with Sam Weaver of Churton and a Bordeaux blend in Stellenbosch with Marc Kent, not to mention an Alvarinho in the Minho, Portugal.
The oldest vines on the estate are 80 years old and there are 2 prized hectares of pre-Phylloxera (white) vines up at 600m along with the famous 5 hectares of Bastardo at Quinta da Veiga (where the fruit for the Conceito Bastardo comes from). All the red grape varieties are planted on schistous soils and all the white varieties on granitic sand soils.
The family has been acquiring vineyards since the 1940s but the first Conceito wines were only made 2004 with the Quinta de Veiga winery being built the following year. Prior to this grapes were sold to other producers and Port shippers. All cultivation has been organic since 2006.
Although the properties are based in the easternmost Douro Superior, the Douro’s hottest and driest sub-region, Conceito’s base in the Teja Valley, near Vesuvio, is supposedly the Douro’s coolest microclimate. According to Rita Marques, “During the day, it’s eight degrees [Celsius] less here than at Quinta do Vale Meao, about twenty kilometers away.”
As well as 20 hectares of vines at Quinta do Veiga, Conceito Vinhos also has around 20 hectares at Quinta do Chao-de Pereiro, 23 hectares at Quinta do Cabido (the oldest vineyard with the poorest soils) and some 10 hectares at Quinta do Menir in the highest part of the valley where mainly white grape varieties are grown (and rather quirkily where Marques has planted Grüner Veltliner).
In the vineyard there is manual harvesting and an initial fruit selection followed by a second sorting at the cellar prior to de-stemming of the grapes (not for the Conceito Bastardo though). The winery is a combination of modern stainless steel, temperature-controlled vats and traditional, old granite lagares for in which the grapes are foot trodden.