The strength of the Douro Valley, In September just gone, the Douro Boys event took place.
I had the pleasure to be invited once again for this event focus on the wine professionals and to showcase the new and current projects from these producers that lead the way of what is going on in this amazing region of the Douro Valley.
The Boys… Niepoort, Van Zeller and Co, Quinta do Vallado, Quinta do Vale Meão and Quinta do Crasto, these fine producers are the face of this a project that shows the world some of the best wines being produced in this region and together they found the strength for marketing and promote one thing in common, the wines. As you know in these days the Douro wines are not just the famous Port, it is much more than that, amazing dry reds, whites, roses and other kinds highly awarded in international contests finding their way to figure at the best wine lists of the very best restaurants in the world, and the location? it is breathtaking, a must-visit for anyone that wishes to know Portugal at its very best.
Each one of these producers at its won style, reflect the specific “terroir” where they come from, and yes, there are differences. From the irreverence of Niepoort wines with Dirk making wines with precision and elegant, the classic Redoma Reserva white, the Batuta, and of course, one of the best white wines from Portugal the amazing Coche, they are all famous but being a huge fan of these wines, I have also to mention one that not being so famous is, in my opinion, one of the best, Robusto red. The problem is to choose with so many options. Just a few comments about the Ports as they are in my opinion some of the best value for money you can get away from the classic houses of Port, beautiful Ruby’s full of concentration and not to forget the unique Garrafeiras, a style worth it to discover.
Quinta do Crasto, a stunning location with some of the best old vines from the Douro vineyards, and from this blend of grapes was born an iconic wine from the region, the famous Quinta do Crasto Reserva Old Vines, it was one of the first to be recognized internationally not only for its quality but also, because it shows a style that identifies the dry reds from this region. Personally, I consider the varietal Touriga Nacional from Quinta do Crasto as the most faithful example of what this grape can do, but if you want to be more adventurous when available you should try also the Tinta Roriz varietal from this producer, same as Tempranillo in Spain with so many fans in the world.
Talking about this top producer and not mentioning 2 of the best wines from Portugal, Maria Teresa and Vinha da Ponte, would be unfair, two small plots producing just a few bottles but worth to try. Feeling a bit extravagant? Then go for the new limited editions called Honore, a dry red and an incredible Port. Van Zeller and Co, under the command of Cristiano, has the master skills of someone ho makes top wines for a long time.
From all the great wines he producers, I am a big fan of the CVs, whites and reds with a touch of fantastic winemaking that shows, wines to keep in the cellar for a long time if you want. About his Ports, well I tried some nice, dated ones that impressed me and know he is planning to put in the market one of those special edition old Ports that will be for sure incredible, let’s wait.
A wine estate that needs no introduction, Quinta do Vallado, at this the moment not only famous for its fantastic wines but also for its amazing wine tourism project, but let’s talk about its wines, they have a wide range of options from single grape varietals to field blends, some for you to consider because of his unique style; the Sousão grape giving a touch of balanced freshness that I like, also the vibrant whites, fresh and crispy like the Prima and complex and gastronomic like the White Reserva.
The ports, no doubt about the style of the dated Ports, beautifully fresh and balanced making and amazing pairing with egg deserts. More upriver we arrive at the property with more charisma in the region, Quinta do Vale Meão. For sure there are amazing properties and also with a big history in the region, but his one is the birthplace of the famous Barca Velha, not produced here anymore but left a legacy for the new generations to keep the tradition of making top quality wines, so from this legacy was born the incredible Quinta do Vale Meão, for sure one of the most internationally recognise wines from Portugal, it shows the tradition blended with sophistication, during my experience working in Michelin Star restaurants, any time I had somebody asking me for a Portuguese wine at the same level of a Super Tuscany or even a Grand Cru Bordeaux, I was recommending Quinta do Vale Meão, it’s one of those wines that makes me proud of being Portuguese and to show something really genuine with native grapes and ancestral production.
The Ports from this Producers are probably not so famous but trust me, they will not let you down at a friend’s dinner. In conclusion, the Douro Valley is well and alive, taking the tradition and its origins of the oldest demarked wine region in the world to a level of sophistication and innovation. The quality is there and besides the amazing wines, the wine tourism is becoming more important for the region each year, imagine the combination of great wines, and outstanding location, the people, the gastronomy and tradition, this is the Douro Valley.
A final thank you for these amazing people and producers that always pay special attention to the Sommeliers and their job.