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The Douro in pictures

The drinks business was delighted to encounter this excellent example of one of its top 10 underrated grape varieties during a delicious night of top Portuguese gastronomy and hospitality at O Paparico restaurant in Porto.


For those not able to make a trip upriver to see the spectacular terraced vineyards of the Douro valley at first hand, Taylor’s has made a good effort to recreate the experience at its lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Due to join the steadily improving tourism facilities in the Douro is this soon-to-be-opened visitor centre at Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim, a short stroll from Pinhão train station.

Among the highlights from an extensive tasting of Symington Family Estates’ wine and Port collection was this brand new release, Graham’s 1972 Single Harvest Tawny Port, the latest in a recent flurry of old tawny expressions to reach the market. The empty bottle by the end of dinner suggested that the nine casks bottled may disappear rather quickly.

One of the more stunning Douro vistas must be this view across to the carefully tended terraces of Quinta do Noval, home to the region’s famous Nacional vineyard.

Driving into rather flatter terrain, db paid a visit to the baroque grandeur of Casa Mateus, original (but no longer) home of Mateus rosé, but now the base for Lavradores de Feitoria, an association of 18 Douro estates who have teamed up to produce a range of high quality DOC wines.

These range in style from fresh unoaked whites to the region’s classic, juicy, spiced damson reds and an interesting wine called Meruge, made with mostly Tinta Roriz grapes grown on a high, north-facing vineyard that reveals an intriguingly delicate, perfumed expression from the Douro.

Making Bastardo look positively mainstream is this pale skinned grape Alvarelhão – not to be confused with Albariño – which in the hand of Lavadores de Feitoria winemaker Paulo Ruão produces a very savoury, herbal style. Is this the real “orange” wine?

Travelling through the Douro in style, db hitched a lift in the back of a comfortably padded old truck for the short but winding route from the sleepy Ferrão train station up to Quinta do Crasto.

Crasto winemaker Manuel Lobo de Vasconcellos shows off just some of the different planting layout options in this steep, rocky corner of the world.

He also revealed that, although Crasto’s focus remains heavily weighted towards Douro DOC wines, the estate has been steadily expanding Port production and plans to release its first ever tawny colheita, a 1997, later this year.

Heading back to Vila Nova de Gaia, there was time to soak up one final impressive view, this time from Burmester’s lodge in the shadow of the famous Gustave Eiffel bridge connecting Gaia and Porto.

Burmester forms part of the Sogevinus group that also includes Kopke and Cálem. Not to be left out of the current tawny craze, colheita specialist Kopke will release a 1965 expression next month – perfect timing for anyone celebrating a 50th birthday or wedding anniversary.


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