Ancient, rich in microclimates and variety of strains. This is the demarcated Douro region which sits on shale soils in an area of great beauty that is distributed by secular terraces next to the banks of the Douro river in Portugal.
In addition of being World Heritage and birthplace of Port wine, the region is producing excellent white and red table wines, sparkling wines and muscat. The complexity of the aromas of Port wine named “Vinho de cheiro” (wine of odour) in another era, continues to seduce the senses throughout the centuries. The proof is that it has already a day to celebrate its age: on September 10, the Port Wine Day celebrated 259 years of the first demarcated region of the world.
Among the strains permitted in Douro wines winemaking, the most used are Touriga Nacional (the “Portuguese Cabernet”), Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão and Tinta Roriz (the Spanish “Tempranillo”). The vast majority of wines are made from various strains but the monovarietal also have a presence, often in wines based on Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca.
The winepress, with manual or mechanical treading, is part of the traditional method of wine production in the Douro region. However, some producers provided more recent methods, such as stainless steel tanks with temperature control during fermentation. The advantage of the first method is its ability to extract the tannins, while the second allows the production of wines with well preserved aromas. Using both methods simultaneously results in complex wines, quite dense and structured. There is also a new generation of oenologist committed on proving that Douro not only lives from Port wine. In this region, table wines are made with new methods and by specialists in winemaking.
In 2014, the prestigious magazine Wine Spectator has tasted 18,000 wines from around the world to classify them according to their quality, price and availability in the market. Their Top 10 selection includes three wines from the Douro region.
The Port wine Vintage Dow’s 2011 by Symington Group was chosen as the best wine of 2014, 99 points out of 100. In third and fourth place, both with 97 points, were the Chryseia 2011 (also Symington) and Quinta do Vale Meão, by Olazabal & Filhos, descendants of Antónia Ferreira, the famous “Ferreirinha”.
The Real Companhia Velha is more than 250 years old and owns an archive of historical documentation (across the Douro river, in Vila Nova de Gaia, where the great cellars are) linking the Douro wines to personalities such as the Marques de Pombal, Napoleon and Catherine of Russia.
This company sells and produces Port wine on its 535 hectares of vineyards, distributed over 7 properties producing table wines, such as the Quinta das Carvalhas, one of the oldest in the region, and the Quinta de Cidró, in S. João da Pesqueira.
From this last property comes our first buying suggestion at Uvinum:
Ferreira Dona Antonia Reserva is a fortified wine with this DO: Port of the best of port and tinta roriz grapes and with an alcoholic strength of 20.00º.
Graham’s 10 anos: is a Port blended vinified with tinta çao and port and 20º of volume of alcohol.
* This article was originally published by Rita Bonet at O Blog da Uvinum.