DFJ VINHOS is a family firm that was established in 1998.
JOSÉ NEIVA CORREIA is the head winemaker and proprietor.
DFJ has estates totaling 250ha plus contracts with partner producers that take the total area to over 600ha. All production on the estates is carried out under the Integrated Production regime (sustainable agriculture).
In 2009 DFJ achieved BRC quality certification – grade A, and since 2019 it has had grade AA.
It exports 99% of 10 MILLION bottles to over 50 countries.
Global recognition is very high, having won more than 4000 awards since 2010, of which 610 were in 2020 alone. Of these, more than 1000 are gold medals.
Oriented to the consumer, all wines are produced according to their taste. DFJ VINHOS is one of the world’s best when it comes to: PRICE / QUALITY / FINESSE / AWARDS / PLEASURE.
THE OENOLOGIST JOSÉ NEIVA CORREIA
DFJ VINHOS is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, professional creations of José Neiva Correia, the two entities are inseparable.
He was born and raised in a land of wines and vineyards in what many historians consider to be one of the oldest properties in the municipality of Alenquer in the district of Lisbon and whose origins predate the nation of Portugal – Quinta de Porto Franco. It is in this terroir of excellence that José Neiva Correia, born in 1949, one of the most prolific winemakers in Portugal, produces much of the raw material to produce the best creations of DFJ Vinhos, the company he founded in 1998 and which today is responsible for an average annual production of ten million bottles, 30 brands and over a hundred different wines, almost all from the Lisboa wine region.
Descended from several generations of winemakers, both on his father's and on his mother's side, José Neiva Correia followed the family tradition with passion and professionalism. Those who know him well or work with him tell of the creativity and enthusiasm with which he creates each of his many and varied wines, sometimes using improbable blends of varieties with amazing results.
The renowned wine critic Roger Voss once praised his ability to work with several varieties in the same wine, as was the case of the PORTADA Winemakers Selection red 2011, a blend of seven varieties that won 90 points, and was elected #8 TOP 100 Best Buy by Wine Enthusiast . In his words: “I’m impressed that you can combine 7 different varieties, but I know you are a master of creating blends.” (a).
José Neiva responded with something that reflects his philosophy of seeking the best in every grape variety:
“When we bring different elements together we can make something more perfect and we can give people even more pleasure.”
Whether it is top of the range with very limited production or large volume wines destined to satisfy the great international markets, his insistence on the quality of the final product is always the same and always without pretenciousness. Only a very few have the skill and knowledge to be able to do all of these things very well.
As an oenologist, he has done pioneering work in the planting of new varieties in Portugal, promoting a more environmentally friendly agriculture and even seeking to find solutions to one of the major problems facing the wine sector; cork taint.
(a) Extract from the clip: “Wine Enthusiast at DFJ VINHOS”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlE7m7tUgUQ&t=22s
TRAINING AND EVOLUTION
An agricultural technical engineer by training, José Neiva Correia began as an intern at the National Center for Wine Studies in Dois Portos, later carrying out further training in Bordeaux, France, and in Germany in Gesenheim.
He started working in Cooperative Wineries 35 years ago, invited by Eng.º Octávio Pato, the top Portuguese winemaker in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
He was responsible for almost 10% of the total production of Portugal during the 1980s and part of the 1990s.
In the 1980s, José Neiva established his own laboratory for the analysis of wines, plants, land and irrigation water, which allowed him to deepen his knowledge of wine and vines.
Rigorous and dedicated to research, José Neiva Correia developed and patented the first effective method of disinfecting cork stoppers using ozone (which he eventually sold to the Amorim Group) and which contributes to the reduction of the infamous TCA (the compound Trichloroanisole that causes the so-called “cork taint”), the biggest enemy of winemakers.
THE LISBOA REGION
In the Lisboa wine region where José Neiva Correia was born, lives and works, the climate is temperate; mild, with rain and humidity in the right seasons. However, there are many valleys and hills that give rise to the most diverse microclimates. Furthermore, the quality and characteristics of the soil also vary, giving rise to different terroirs. Finally, the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean helps climate moderation, preventing major fluctuations in temperature. Mild winters and summers, and night time dews facilitate an even ripening of the grapes.
The 200ha of DFJ VINHOS vineyards in the Lisbon region are always prepared for mechanical harvesting (12 to 15 ha/day) in advance of the equinox (September 21st), when, according to the historical climatic series, there is a 90% likelihood of rain.
There is constant monitoring of the development and improvement of the various clones of the grape varieties, this in order to make room for better plants that are resistant to viruses and vine diseases. The average lifespan of the vineyards is 25 to 30 years.
José Neiva produces and selects the best wines from the grape varieties Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Fernão Pires, Chardonnay and Moscatel grapes. José also introduced the Caladoc variety to Portugal (a cross between Grenache and Malbec). He is the largest producer of Pinot Noir in Portugal (30 ha). He carried out the 1st harvest of Dornfelder in 2009, a short-cycle German red variety that was also being cultivated for the first time in Portugal. Riesling, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc, Marsanne and Tannat are already in production. He continues to produce Alvarinho – the family's favorite white. He is a big “fan” of Alicante Bouschet (a cross between Petit Bouchet and Grenache), having been the first producer to bottle this wine as a varietal.
IN HARMONY WITH NATURE – GOOD AGRICULTURE
José Neiva Correia combines the careful selection of the varieties to be planted on the different vineyards with a policy of sustainable agriculture - with no place for chemical products in the soils. He uses organic matter only, selected according to the land, water table, climate, grape varieties, clones and the wine that is intended to be produced. All organic matter is pre-analyzed to verify that it is suitable and also to avoid heavy metals and other pollutants negative for the plants and for the environment.
The nutrition of the vines is monitored closely, without excesses or shortages; the water and nutrient needs of the various vines are carefully measured.
The end result is high quality produce and productivity levels that are well above the average in Portugal.
This careful work and environmental awareness on the estates has resulted in DFJ VINHOS being awarded certification for INTEGRATED PRODUCTION.
QUINTA DE PORTO FRANCO – A historic terroir
A long alleyway of plane trees leads to the main entrance of Quinta de Porto Franco, a long, low building with the typical features of traditional agricultural houses in Alenquer.
The property came into José Neiva's family through his great-grandfather who bought it from the Viscount of Chanceleiros, a peer of the Kingdom, civil governor of Lisbon and minister of Public Works to King Dom Luís. A historical figure of Portuguese viticulture, Sebastião José de Carvalho, the 1st Viscount of Chanceleiros, was known for his innovative agricultural techniques; he had the foresight to replant the phylloxera-decimated vineyards using American vine rootstocks.
Two centuries later, Porto Franco became the central estate of a nucleus of properties bought and inherited by José’s father.
The winery and vineyards now being under the control of DFJ Vinhos, S.A..
The estate is José Neiva Correia’s birthplace and childhood home, 60 km north of the center of Lisbon, 20 km from the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of 80 ha of vineyards farmed using certified integrated production methods that respect the environment, soil and water table.
Surrounding the house and its terraces, many different colours paint the landscape: Alfrocheiro on one side, Moscatel on the other, a new Alicante Bouschet vineyard at the front and, on the left, Syrah, a vineyard that grew 14 tons per hectare in the second year of planting.
In fact, one of José Neiva Correia's constant concerns is to be able to increase the production of his vineyards without reducing the quality of the grapes. He is constantly studying and working to accelerate the production cycle of the vines, in order to achieve the best possible quality at the lowest possible cost.
Many of the young vines are in full production after 14 months whereas the average would be three to five years, this without compromising the quality of the wines.
A little further on, on the other side of the house, the old cellar that still bears the arms of the Lobo Garcez Palha family (18th century) has been restored and adapted to modern times: the deposits are lined with fiberglass and epoxy, the shutters and mouths were replaced by stainless steel and the modern vacuum filters for white and rosé wines ensure musts that are free of any substances in suspension. Only half an hour separates the harvesting of the grapes, all done by machine, and reception into the winery to start destemming, crushing and subsequent winemaking process.
Only the small parcels destined for the top of the range - FRANCOS and CONSENSUS are picked by hand, each bunch being carefully selected.
It has a winemaking and storage capacity of 3 million liters.
Fermentation of white wines in oak barriques is also carried out in Porto Franco.
DFJ VINHOS – Prospering Since 1998
In the 1980s and 1990s, José Neiva Correia was already a renowned winemaker in Portugal, working as a consultant for several companies. One of those clients was D&F Wine Shippers, at that time the largest importer of Portuguese wines in the United Kingdom, and in 1998 he decision was made go into partnership with the two owners. To the “D” of Dino Ventura and the “F” of Fausto Ferraz, he added the “J” of José and DFJ Vinhos was born. In 2005, after the death of one of the partners, José became sole owner when he purchased the entire capital of the company.
DFJ Vinhos is proud of its progress since 1998; today exporting more than 99% of a 10 million bottle production to more than 50 countries around the world.
Internationalization, quality, diversification of the offer and being in touch with the consumer's demands are key aims of the company and the main objective is to obtain the best possible quality/price ratio for each of its products. In this way, DFJ Vinhos hopes to ensure that its customers are always kept satisfied.
A bet that has proved to be the right one, judging by its growing presence in different world markets, and by the many awards achieved outside Portugal: more than 4000 since 2010.
QUINTA DA FONTE BELA – The Cathedral of Wine
Located in Vila Chã de Ourique - Cartaxo, 80 km north of the city of Lisbon and 5 km west of the Tagus River, it is a unique, 100 year old property. Most of the buildings belong to the so-called "Iron Architecture" used in the second half of the 19th century.
All installations were designed by engineers from the Eiffel atelier, who were in Portugal designing public works, including the D. Maria bridge in Porto. The owner of the Quinta at the time (António Francisco Ribeiro Ferreira) took advantage of the presence of these engineers and commissioned the plans for what would become the center of their agricultural activity.
The first building, the winery, was completed in 1897. The exterior architecture is also unique in Portugal for being characteristic of southern France, which was almost certainly the homeland of the engineers. A set of stone buildings, imposing and unusual for the region, a mixture of French architecture including the use of Marseilles tiles, with some remaining industrial architecture, particularly the impressive distillery chimney that can be seen from many kilometers away .
Also known in the region as “The Cathedral of Wine”, Quinta da Fonte Bela is made up of several buildings, including the headquarters of the DFJ’s offices, a winemaking center, the bottling line, warehouses, a winery with a capacity of 13.3 million liters, laboratory and visitor’s tasting room. There is also what used to be the cellars with the largest wooden barrel storage capacity in Portugal, the space is now used for ageing wine in French oak barriques but some of the impressively sized original barrels still remain on show.
The cooperage is another crucial element of DFJ VINHOS and it is dedicated solely to the renovation of French Allier barriques which is the only type of oak barrel used at DFJ. The cooperage allows for the judicious use of oak ageing according to the technical needs of the winemaker, for the best white and red wines.
Quinta da Fonte Bela has 50ha of vineyards planted with Alicante Bouschet, Shiraz, Tannat, Moscatel and Sauvignon Blanc.
Awarded Portuguese Wine Company of 2004 by Revista de Vinhos.
Twice winner of the Red Wine of the Year trophy at the International Wine Challenge - London.
First gold medal for a Portuguese white wine at IWC - London.
Won #1 in the TOP 100 BEST BUY OF THE YEAR 2012, Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
Named one of the 5 best European wine companies of 2017 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
TWELVE times on the Wine Enthusiast Magazine list of the TOP 100 BEST BUYS OF THE YEAR.
Since 2010, DFJ has won more than 4000 awards, 610 of which in 2020 alone.
Distinguished in Portugal in 2019 as PME Excelência, for the 4th consecutive year.