The refinement and ardor at Foz Torto

Due to our significant age gap of 150 years, we never had the opportunity to encounter the Baron of Forrester, the British port wine trader who advocated for the Douro Valley. However, we are acquainted with Abílio Tavares da Silva, another outsider who emerged as one of Douro’s most excellent representatives.

Originally, a technology entrepreneur, Abílio liquidated his company in 2000 and retired at 40 to pursue his love for winemaking. He disapproves of taking shortcuts, preferring to establish his knowledge from scratch by obtaining a degree in enology from the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro. He also initiated his quest for the perfect vineyards.

In 2004, he purchased Foz Torto, a charming estate close to Pinhão, near the convergence of the river Torto with the Douro. Planted with ancient vines, it provides breathtaking panoramas of the Douro Valley. Abílio collaborated with Sandra Tavares da Silva, a distinguished enologist, to create his wines. Despite sharing the same last names, Abílio and Sandra are not related. Nevertheless, they both share a keen interest in crafting wines that blend sophistication with remarkable aging potential. Their selection includes a luxurious red sourced from 80-year-old vines and a captivating white from 40-year-old vines cultivated in Porrais, at an elevation of 600 meters above sea level.

Abílio describes his winemaking ethos as straightforward, yet as he elaborated on his technique, we swiftly filled a notebook with intricate particulars. The excellence of his wines not only mirrors the exceptional quality of the grapes but also the meticulous attention to detail that his engineering mindset brings to all aspects of production—from overseeing the vineyards year-round, harvesting the grapes when they attain the perfect sugar-acidity balance, regulating fermentation temperatures, to choosing the optimal aging methods.

Every August, Abílio collaborates in orchestrating a competition to choose the finest heirloom tomatoes in the Douro Valley. This occasion gathers winemakers and highlights the distinctive attributes of the Douro. The impoverished schist soil encourages plants to develop deep roots, resulting not only in exceptional wines but also extraordinary fruits, herbs, vegetables, and olive oil. A few drops of the olive oil produced by Abílio at Foz Torto can transform a basic salad into a culinary creation deserving of Mount Olympus.

To us, Abílio represents more than just a talented winemaker. He is a wellspring of inspiration and a person to look up to. When we mature, we aspire to emulate him.

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Asraful Shohag

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