Following the tasting at Vale Meão we headed to Ferrão, which is the station after Pinhõa. Beside the Douro this small halt is in the middle of nowhere. Just the station and a track leading off up the hill. We were met here by the Crasto Boys. Most of us got to ride up the hill in an open truck to Crasto in the darkness, while a pampered few got a lift in a car.
During the 1990s I'd visited Crasto a couple of times and, although it was dark, it was clear that the winemaking facilities have expanded very considerably.
We had a vertical tasting of Crasto's Old Vines Reserva from 2001-2007. This spends 16-18 months in barrique – 60% new with some 10%-15% made from American oak. My favourite vintages were 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007. 2002 was a difficult year but despite this the wine was successful with herbal, Indian spice and cedar notes and good texture and balance. 2004 was a very dry year and gave a very concentrated wine full of black fruits with a decidedly tannic grip. Currently it's as tight as a duck's arse but has a lot of potential.
2005 is similarly dense with concentrated black fruits and length and power but softer and may be ready before the 2004. 2007 was bottled in early June 2009 and is not yet fully knit together but has aromas of violets and sweet youthful fruit and appears to have considerable potential.
Along with the 70 hectares planted at Crasto, they now have a 150-hectare property in the Upper Douro that they bought in 2000, which has 90 hectares of red varieties planted. There are also ambitious plans to develop the tourist potential of Crasto to cater for day trips from Porto with a restaurant and shop. There will also be rooms where press and friends can stay.
Over dinner we drank several wines. The 2005 straight Quinta do Crasto with its soft and supple fruit I found to be the most delicious and enjoyable to drink – also certainly the cheapest wine on show, although the 2005 will have long sold out.