Terra Bella is an organic port from Fonseca, one of the most well-known port brands in the world. It was first released in the United States in 2006 and about 450 cases are made each year. I spoke with Robert Bower, US Sales & Export Manager for The Fladgate Partnership to learn more about the production.
Why did Fonseca want to release an organic Port?
Fonseca has wanted to stop using chemicals in viticulture to prevent them from leaching into the water table and the Douro river. With the demand for organic wines in international markets, a select number of vineyards have been certified organic to produce organic grapes for Terra Bella.
Where are the vineyards?
From several plots of land, including Quinta de São Antonio which is organically farmed. The knowledge to farm organically came from a plot of land at Quinta do Panascal, that Fonseca designated for organic viticulture in 1992.
What are the challenges of growing organically in the Douro?
The challenge in creating an organic Port was not so much the viticulture, but finding the organic grape spirit to fortify the wine. Fonseca believes that to be 100 percent organic the spirit that fortifies the wine had to be organic. The release was delayed several years because we could not find enough quality organic grape spirit in the market. When Fonseca Terra Bella was released into the US, it was the first 100% organic port with both the wine and the spirit being certified organic.
Is Fonseca considering more organic production in general?
Fonseca is focused more on promoting sustainable viticulture across the Douro Valley. If the organic Port market grows further, Fonseca would be in a position to convert vineyards from sustainable viticulture to organic.
Do you notice any major differences in Terra Bella than your other ports?
Terra Bella does have a more pronounced cherry fruit flavor than other ports and more intensity of fruit than most. The fruit extraction is superior to most non-vintage ports due to the use of Port-Toes or piston fermenters. The standard production method for non-vintage ports is pump-over; which Fonseca no longer uses.
Fonseca PortoTerra Bella retails for around $23.