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Portugal’s Douro Valley region producing top-quality table wines at an affordable price

Porto, Portugal---The vineyards that surround Portugal’s Douro River have produced some of the world’s best Port wines for centuries. But a relatively recent influx of young talent into the Douro wine business has inspired many of the region’s winemakers to expand their operations beyond Port to create some of Portugal’s top-rated table wines.


Since the 1980s, Portugal has been investing in its winemaking industry by adding modern equipment and improving cultivation techniques. Around the same time, Portugal loosened laws limiting Douro wine producers just as a crop of ambitious young winemakers began to take the helm at the region’s vineyards. Today, the region is making well respected, high quality wines and critics in America have taken notice.


Food and Wine Magazine called the region the “next must-visit wine country,” and the 2005 Douro wine J. & F. Lurton Barco Negro was ranked in the top 10 on last year’s Wine Enthusiast "100 Best Buys” list with a score of 90.


Ray Isle of Food and Wine Magazine writes that Douro wines taste of wild berries and plums, often with notes of spice and pepper.

“Even the most graceful wines tend to be full-bodied and powerful,” Isle writes. “Douro soil is largely bits of schist—like sharp-edged gravel—and vine roots have to dig up to 40 feet for water. The wine's intensity reflects that struggle.”


Kim Marcus, managing editor of Wine Spectator magazine, writes that the Douro region produces deeply flavored reds that go well with hearty, rustic dishes. The region boasts a number of tasty and affordable wines, Marcus writes. He particularly recommends a 2005 vintage because the extreme dry heat in the Douro that year delivered intensely concentrated grapes.


The scenic region is defined by the Douro River, which winds through central Portugal lined with vineyards. In 2006, it celebrated the 250th anniversary of the naming of the Douro wine region, the oldest such designation in the world. It’s beauty, rustic charm – and it’s highly ranked wines – have made the Douro one of Portugal’s most popular tourist destinations.

Douro wines today are often made with the same grapes used in port production, such as the Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Cão. Combining these vintage grapes with 250 years of knowledge, the region’s emerging wine makers has been producing a variety of wines that boast a bold and full-bodied flavor.

Some Douro wine makers, like Sandra Tavares da Silva and Jorge Serôdio Borges, started their winery, Wine & Soul, from the ground up in 2004. They produce the well-received table red, Pintas, with wild blackberry flavors and a floral aroma.

Other wine makers in the Douro have roots in the Port business. Dutch-descended Dirk Niepoort has garnered praise as a leader in the region’s innovative wine making movement, but he also runs his family’s Port producing business. Charles Symington, who partners with Bruno Prats to create the highly regarded Chryseia wine, is part of a family that has been producing fine Port wines since 1882.

Douro wines are available in the United States and range in price from moderate to affordable.

The Quinta do Vallado 2005 red is available on Wine.com for $16.96.

WineChateau.com offers a variety of Douro wines including the 2006 Adriano Ramos Pinto Douro Valley Wine for $10 and the 2005 Casa da Corca Douro Reserva for $3


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