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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
14 Jan 2013

Quinta da Romaneira is one of the biggest wine estates in the Douro Valley and has been one of its most ambitious recent developments. With backing from investment company IDI, AXA's wine man Christian Seely masterminded the upgrading of the property and the transformation of the somewhat dilapidated buildings into a luxury hotel.

As reported on Friday, IDI sold their stake to a private investor on 31 December so that it now belongs to this individual and Seely, who is also in charge of AXA's Douro property nearby Quinta do Noval. He said on Friday, 'I am pleased to announce that Quinta da Romaneira has been acquired by a major international investor with whom I am very happy to be now working as a long-term partner. He made the acquisition because, like me, he saw the potential of the terroir of Romaneira for port and red wine and believes particularly in the future of the red wines of the Douro Valley….The acquirer wishes to remain discreet, but I am remaining for the long term as managing director and am increasing my personal shareholding in the business as minority partner and manager...There were several other shareholders, including my family, who all sold at the same time and I am now taking a personal stake and will be increasing it. You cannot say I do not believe in the Douro.'

The quality of wines and ports made at Romaneira has certainly been encouraging (Purple Pagers can put Romaneira in the search box to find eight enthusiastic tasting notes) and one can quite see why Seely is keen to persist at this spectacularly sited property, so extensive that it has included no fewer than two halts on the Douro Valley railway. One of his challenges, however, will be to find a new operator for the hotel. Its modern luxury may have won it acclaim and awards but perhaps not quite enough business. The original operator has withdrawn. Anyone know a port-loving hotelier who enjoys solitude?