Grape Expectations: Douro

The Douro Valley is one of those wine regions that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Its incredibly steep slopes are cut into terraces – locally known as patamares – allowing for the cultivation of vines.

The Douro is best known for producing Port – a sweet, fortified wine which is famous for its longevity. This traditional wine is more diverse than many might think – from the long-lived vintage ports to fresher, nutty tawnies – as well as white port which makes a very delicious aperitif when mixed with tonic and ice. I have even heard of rosé Port production, but am not entirely sure why anybody would want to drink such a thing.

Then there are the red and white wines from the region. These are inevitably blends, made up of the relatively obscure grape varieties which are native to the region. Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz feature in the reds, while Viosinho and Gouveio are regular white grapes used. For the red wines, think of rich, full-bodied fruity bottles, often with a spicy character and toasty oak notes. The white wines are surprisingly restrained when you consider the high temperatures of the region, and make excellent companions to light, seafood dishes.

Recommendation: Quinta de la Rosa Branco, Douro –  A traditional and delicious Portuguese blend with notes of greengage and honeysuckle. The schist and granite soils in these vineyards, among the most prized terroir in the Douro, give this wine a remarkable tension and minerality on the finish. 

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