Two emblematic Douro reds

After torrential rain and storms at the end of last week we now have perfect autumn weather with clear blue skies and daytime temperatures around 18oC. The autumn colours are spectacular and from the veranda of the adega it is possible to pick out different varieties in the vineyard from the differing shades of the leaves. Two emblematic red wines with dinner at Tomba Lobos in Portalegre. Quinta do Vale Meão 2008 is a triumph; soft yet multi-layered with hidden structure and broad, ripe tannins underlying. Already good to drink, it lacks the hard edge that marks many Douro reds, a function both of the vintage and the terroir of the Douro Superior. I have always been rather sceptical of the French influence in the Douro but Xisto 2005 is the product of a partnership between Jean-Michel Cazes of Chateau Lynch Bages and Jorge Roquette of Quinta do Crasto. Made predominantly from Touriga Nacional (60%), backed by Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca, this wine combines the aromatic qualities of Touriga with the verve and finesse of a wine from the northern Rhone. It is indisputably old world and French in style yet it does not lose the underlying character and purity of Douro fruit. It is not cheap at around €40 but worth every centimo!