Unique Portugal: An interview with the venerable Tony Smith
I had the chance to sit down with the venerable Tony Smith of Lima Smith Lda., which owns Quinta de Covela and Quinta da Boa Vista of northern Portugal. This was a unique opportunity to sit down with this former editor, previously based in the UK, of Conde Nast and discuss how he went from being a editor to the owner of these prestigious properties in the Douro River Valley. Tony went from living in São Paolo, Brazil (population: 58 million), to São Tomeo (population: 681). In the interview, he talks about his experience with this change as well.
Lima Smith Lda. is the brain child of Tony Smith and Marcelo Lima. They both initially purchased Quinta de Covela through an auction in 2011. They later went on to purchase Quinta da Boavista, a former Offley estate from Sogrape Vinhos, in 2013, and also took over the Quinta das Tecedeiras brand.
I had the opportunity to visit Quinta de Covela and stay on the estate. It had the most gorgeous views of the valley and was situated in the middle of the Vinho Verde region of the Douro River Valley. The estate has 70 hectares, with approximately 20 hectares-49 acres of vines under production, with another 50 hectares available to plant. Right now their current production is about 100,000 bottles—8,333 cases of 12 bottles—annually.
Dating back to the 1500s, the estate was formerly known as Casa de Covela, where, to this day, the ruins of the old stone Renaissance manor home still remains. The estate went on to belong to various owners, but in 1980s it was acquired by the businessman Nuno Araújo, who created the brand Covela. In 2007, Casa de Covela gained the classification as a bio-dynamic producer, which at the time was above and beyond what others in the region had done. Unfortunately, the estate was later abandoned, and when the property was first purchased in 2011, it was in disrepair and in need of a little TLC. After two years of neglect, Lima Smith picked up the winery and, resurrecting it, refocused it from 50/50 red-to-white production to 20 percent red and 80 percent white under the direction of renowned winemaker Rui Cunha.
Rui had been involved in the original project back in 1992 and later returned to help revive this beautiful property; he also has a consultancy and makes his own wines through Secret Spot. Rui made the decision to return to help rebuild Covela because he could finally make the wines he always wanted to under the new ownership. When he came back to Covela, he was able to make a single variety wine out of the Avesso grape variety, which has now gained national acclaim. This grape variety wine turns out to be one of my favorite Vinho Verdes.
Wine Notes: Avesso 2012 Edicion Nacional. Covelo- first vintage.
Sold out (Unfortunately!)
It has a touch of baked goods with a crisp lemon-lime mouth; it is dry and delicious.
Importer: David Boland
The winery has sold its wines mainly in Portugal in the past, but its focus for the future is to sell 40 percent of their wines nationally and sell 60 percent internationally, first into 3 new markets opened this past year: US, Brazil, and Germany, with plans for three other new markets.
In recent news, Quinta de Covela was just awarded the Trophy of “Best Viticulture” at the annual 2014 gala of “The Best of the Year” organized by Revista de Vinhos magazine. This is one of the most prestigious awards of the wine and gastronomy industry in Portugal. Congrats!
For more information on Quinta de Covela, visit www.covela.pt/en
This concludes my series on Portugal. Next up is Portland and the urban winery movement as well as additional regions of interest in Oregon. If there is something you are interested in learning about tweet me @SacredDrop or leave a comment below.
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