Portuguese producer DFJ Vinhos has 33 brands and makes 77 wines from grapes grown in every mainland Portuguese region except Minho (where Vinho Verde is made). Jose Neiva Correia became the owner in 2005, though his associations with the company began in 1998, when he worked as a consultant for what was then known as D&F Shippers, at the time the largest exporter of Portuguese wines to the UK. Jose later joined the company, so to the D of Dino Ventura and the F of Fausto Ferraz was added the J of Jose and DFJ Vinhos was founded.
Quinta da Fonte Bela is headquarters for the company, situated around half an hour from Lisbon, between Vale de Santarem and Valada. In the 19th century, Antonio Francisco Ribeiro Ferreira, one of the country’s great estate owners, produced grape spirit here for incorporating into port-making.
Jose, who is one of the country’s most productive winemakers, comes from a wine-growing family – he was brought up on Quinta de Porto Franco, was one of the oldest estates in Alenquer. Those who know him remark on his creativity and the enthusiasm that he puts into making his diverse range of wines, which include blends of somewhat improbable grape varieties. He demands quality whether he’s making small-production, top-end wines or mass-volume bottles for international markets. Brands include the entry-level Coreto and Portada, rosés such as Pink Elephant, quality whites and reds from the DOCs of Alenquer, Ribatejo and the Douro and those made under the Grand’ Arte name, as well as the icon range of Consensus and Francos Reserva.
Jose also produces a red – Quinta do Rocio – in partnership with Tomas Sanches da Gama. This is an unusual blend of Syrah, Merlot, Touriga Nacional and Grenache.
Other varieties used for the DFJ Vinhos’ wines feature a long list of both indigenous grapes – such as the white Alvarinho, Antao Vaz, Arinto and Fernao Pires and red Aragones, Baga, Castelao, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca – as well as international varieties, including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir
DFJ Vinhos exports some 90 per cent of its production, which represents around 5.4 million bottles. However, the company only makes wine – it does not grow grapes or manage vineyards.
Jose has made his mark not only with his wines but in the industry – he has been responsible for pioneering the introduction of new varieties to Portugal and promoting healthy agricultural practices; he also developed and patented a method for disinfecting corks using ozone, which was later sold to Grupo Amorim.
Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional
The steep green slopes of the Douro Valley are situated in northern Portugal, near to the Spanish border. The Valley gets its name from the Douro River that winds for more than 500 miles from its source in Spain, through Portugal, to Oporto where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The winters are bitterly cold, although it rarely snows, while in summer the temperature often reaches 41 degrees Celsius.
The Merlot grape produces soft & velvety plummy wines, low on tannins. It is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon resulting in a wine that is big on fruit but smooth enough to drink on its own without food.
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