The Porto and Douro Wine Region
Atualizado: 8 de mai. de 2021
Portuguese wines are acclaimed all over the world, but did you know each region has a very distinct identity and taste???...
Those who have had the privilege of visiting Portugal know that one of the country’s most memorable treasures is its unique flavours. And for those who appreciate wine, the various Portuguese grape varieties and wine regions are simply unforgettable!!!
From North to South, the climate and geography of Portugal are quite different and so are the wines. The terroir of Portuguese wines is influenced by the sea and the mountains, different types of soil as well as the amount of rainfall... Nature was generous with Portugal and the quality of the wines produced reflects this rich diversity.
The Porto and Douro region is recognized by UNESCO as “World Heritage” since 2001. Its beauty comes from the monumentality of its steep scopes, bathed by the river Douro.
Miguel Torga, one of the most influential Portuguese poets and writers of the twentieth century, described Douro in the following way: "The Douro sublimated. It’s not a view that the eyes contemplate: it’s an excess of nature. Terraces made by ancient titanic men climbing the slopes, volumes, colours and modulations that no sculptor, painter or musician can translate, horizons dilated far beyond the plausible limits of the vision. A virgin universe, as if it had just been born, already filled with harmony, serenity, silence that not even the river dares to break, in a sneak fading up on the back of the mountain, or staring deep down, reflecting its own amazing. A geological poet. A supreme splendour.”
The human intervention in the landscape is all too apparent, visible in thousands of terraces, mainly composed of shale, although in some parts there are granitic soils, across the region, challenging the gravity of steep slopes where the vineyards are planted. The secular traditions of the culture of Wine and the work done by man to build thousands of miles of walls along the slopes, resulted in the creation of a landscape of indescribable beauty to the common human, only Torga had the subtlety to describe it...
Douro is the oldest wine region in the world. The Douro Demarcated Wine Region dates back to 1756 and was established in the reign of King José I by his minister Marquês de Pombal. The region extends along the axis of the Douro river, with vineyards that occupies more than 40,000 hectare, divided into 3 sub-regions: Douro Superior, stretching from the border between Portugal and Spain, through Alto Corgo, the heart of Douro where many of the top wines are produced, up to about 90 km (56 mi) distance from the city of Porto, and the Baixo Corgo.
Heavily mountainous, this region is protected from the Atlantic influence by the Mountain of Marão. The weather is usually dry, with cold winters and extremely hot summers, bringing unique features to these soils, which are beneficial to the longevity of the vineyards and bring more concentrated musts in sugar and colour.
It’s in Douro that the Port Wine is born, the main ambassador of the Portuguese wines, but in the last decades the table wines from Douro have been appreciated, achieving worldwide notoriety.
The grape varieties cultivated in the region are famous for their secular history. Some varieties come from the Middle Ages. The best ones for the production of Port Wine are: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Aragonez (in the region named as Tinta Roriz) and Tinto Cão, there are also other varieties extremely important in the region, such as, Tinta Amarela (Trincadeira) and Souzão. The production of white wines is essentially sustained by the plantation of varieties like Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Rabigato e Viosinho. For the production of Moscatel, the planted variety is Moscatel Galego.
The name of "Port wine” is explained by the fact that the wine is stored at and commercialized from the port located between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. The wine went down the river in the typical "rabelo” boats and was aged in the storehouses of Vila Nova de Gaia, since this region shows little variation of temperature throughout the year.
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