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The Wines of Douro Valley

Douro has long been known as port country, renowned for its production of fortified wine, but from this exciting UNESCO world heritage region in Portugal, you can also find good value table wines, from red to white to rosé.

The development of the Portuguese wine culture has not been as open as its neighbors in Spain or further up in France. Many of its grapes still come from old vines. In the Douro Valley, the same grapes used for making port are also used to produce red wine. These are age-worthy reds which are full-bodied, high in tannin and have good acidity. The complexity of flavours embodied by the Douro red is the result of vineyards growing old vines of mixed varieties together. You can find wine that goes from a light claret to a bold and robust red like a fine Cabernet Sauvignon.

Common grape varieties here are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz. Interestingly, Tinta Roriz is actually Tempranillo, made famous by La Rioja in Spain. Touriga Franca is the most planted grape in this region. It produces young red wine that is fruity and juicy with acidity, with potential to age into a silky red that is full of dark fruits and chocolate.

The white wine in Douro is often crisp, lighter in fruit but full of minerals and high in acidity. Common grape varieties are Malvasia, Viosinho, Gouveio and Rabigato. Malvasia is the second most planted variety here. It produces wine that has a hint of spices and smoke. Another grape that produces wonderfully aromatic wine is the Viosinho, which many are calling the Portuguese Sauvignon Blanc. For lively, fresh white with acidity, look for wines made from the Rabigato grapes.

Wine lovers who enjoy elegant, cellar-worthy wine would be pleased to know that Douro is indeed worth exploring. With more than 250 indigenous grape varieties in the country, what you get are interesting wines boasting unique flavours that could not be replicated anywhere else.