- Publish Date: Aug 4, 2009
Close your eyes and think Portugal. Then think wine. Fortified Port or Madeira likely spring immediately to mind. But think again. Although Port has long overshadowed its unfortified cousins from Douro, Portugal, table wines from the region are quickly gaining prominence for their notably fresh fruit and earthy minerality.
The Douro valley in northeast Portugal, where beautiful green hills slope into the lake-like Douro River, was founded in 1756, making it the first demarcated wine region in the world. Of course the area earned its fame through Port trade, but the vintners of the region have been hard at work, making a name for the reds (tinto) and whites (branco,) from Portugal’s 200 indigenous grape varieties.
With such historic vines mingled on the lush hillsides, most winemakers opt for “field blends,” harvesting from the mix of species that grow together in one field, rather than singling out a specific varietal. This helps to create wines that focus on the expressive terroir of the steep ridges.
One of our favorite winemakers from Douro, who cut his teeth with his family’s Port trade, is Dirk Niepoort. Check out the Niepoort selection of Douro wines here.