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Wordplay with a message

O Port Unidade

17.11.2016

The play on words is creatively ambiguous: one can read in it ‘the Port wine of unity’, or the word ‘opportunity’. Both concepts are indeed part of the project that German Port wine specialist Axel Probst has brought into being.

Douro Boys O Port Unidade ©Axel Probst
25 winemakers from the Douro Valley © Axel Probst

Originally, he just wanted to create an impressive photograph for his Port book(Portwein, publishing house: Mondo), and invited the leading winemakers and oenologists to tread grapes together in a lagar. But then the idea for the photo developed into that of a wine made in collaboration by the participants: on 22 September 2013, twenty-five top winemakers brought their own best grapes to Niepoort’s Port Quinta in Vale de Mendiz. And among them were four of the five Douro BoysDirk van der NiepoortMiguel Roquette (Quinta do Crasto), Francisco Ferreira (Quinta do Vallado) and Francisco Olazabal (Quinta do Vale Meão).

They filled a traditional granite lagar with the precious grape clusters, then trod them together. And the twenty-five growers were instantly in agreement that this singular Port wine should serve a good cause. Dirk van der Niepoort comments, ‘We were inspired by the idea that the proceeds from sales of this marvellous Port should go to those in the Douro Valley who needed assistance the most.’  The ‘O-Port-Unidade’ would support the charity organisation Bagos Douro (Berries of the Douro), which ministers to the needs of impoverished children and youth in the Douro Valley.

Douro Boys Scheckübergabe Padre Amadeus Manuel Cabral Axel Probst ©Axel Probst
The cheque handover ceremony, from left: Padre Amadeus (Bagos d´Oouro), Manuel Cabral (President of the IVDP) and Axel Probst, initiator © Axel Probst

The evolving wine was watched over by the best oenologists, until it was bottled by Niepoort after the Port Institute IVDP’s analysis and approval – in the royal class of the Port hierarchy, Vintage Port. 5,000 bottles at 20 € apiece produced 100,000 € of funds donated, which was presented to the charity organisation ‘Bagos Douro’ in September. Most people remain unaware that while the Douro Valley in northern Portugal presents one of the loveliest and most breathtaking landscapes in Europe, it must also at the same time struggle against extreme poverty.

One can easily imagine that this vintage Port not only has an unforgettable story to tell, but would also attain the best ratings on the international stage. This is true; it was scored a whopping 94 points by Parker! You can read more at:
O Port Unidade

Douro Boys Bottle o Port Unidade © Douro Boys
MMXIII Vintage Port © Axel Probst
Douro Boys Dirk van der Nieport Christiano van Zeller Tomas Roquette Joao Ferreira Alvares Ribeiro Francisco Olazabal ©Jorge Simao
Douro Boys from left: Dirk van der Niepoort, Cristiano van Zeller (Quinta Vale D. Maria), Tomás Roquette (Quinta do Crasto), João Ferreira Álvares Ribeiro (Quinta do Vallado) and Francisco Olazabal (Quinta do Vale Meão); © Jorge Simao

For the Douro Boys, who have contributed significantly to wines from the Douro Valley becoming internationally famous – and to them ranking among the world’s finest – this also provides an opportunity to make folks aware of the region‘s darker side. Because people have difficulty imagining that there are so many needy children and poor youths living in this dreamlike setting, who are in desperate need of assistance and support.

Douro Boys Cover Portwein © Axel Probst
Port Wein Book © Axel Probst

How has this poverty developed in the Douro Valley?

The Douro Valley – which has developed into an up-and-coming region for tourism in the last few years and been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO – has struggled for a long time with various problems and challenges. The region, predominantly agricultural in demographic, has been confronted with substantial outward emigration, and with it the rapid aging of the populace. To date there are not enough jobs, not enough possibilities to build a future; this is true above all for the currently adolescent generation. But with the recent emergence of sustainable tourism, many new employment opportunities have been created. The Quinta do Vallado (João Ferreira Álvares Ribeiro, Francisco Ferreira) alone has built two hotels in the last ten years, and the Quinta do Crasto (Tomás and Miguel Roquette) has added guest rooms and the estate‘s own wine shop. The Douro Boys are not only working continually for improvement in the quality of the wines, but also seek to travel sustainable paths, in order to provide the populace of the region with a better future.

PICTURES (downloadable)