While some years ago, wines from the Portuguese Douro Valley were little known, wine lovers will be impressed with the rankings of 18 and 47, given to Quinta do Vale Meão and Quinta do Crasto respectively, in the recently published “Wine Spectator’s 100 top wines of the world” (www.winespectator.com). But the Wine Spectator’s recognition is only one piece of the impressive puzzle that the “Douro Boys” – the leading producers from the Douro Valley – have put together. In 2006 alone, Wine magazines based in the United States, and in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Holland, Austria and Portugal, amongst others, have given top ratings to Douro Boys’ wines (see attached list of some international ratings).
The Douro Valley in Northern Portugal is a wild landscape of extremes. Steep hills 500 meters high and more, are covered with very old vines that sink their roots deep in the slate terraces, enduring temperatures of more than 40 degrees in summer and icy winds during the winter. This so called “Titan’s Playground” (© Andrew Jefford, Decanter Magazine) is the perfect place to grow grapes for heavy ports – but presents a challenge for making elegant and balanced wines. It is more than possible though, as proved by five of the leading producers – Quinta do Vallado, Niepoort, Quinta do Crasto, Quinta do Vale D. Maria, and Quinta do Vale Meão – the “Douro Boys” group, who are getting ever increasing recognition for their very individual and characterful wines.
The uniqueness of the Douro wines stems not only from the stunning terroir but also from the indigenous grapes – such as Touriga Nacional, Sousão, Tinta Amarela, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão for instance. Varietals that are not widely known in other parts of the wine world. These factors combined with the talent of the young winemakers, who honour the specialities of their region, means today that the Douro is one of the most exciting wine growing areas in the World.