The New Douro

The Douro is currently one of the most exciting wine regions in Europe as producers, large and small, reinvent themselves to make an ever wider range of unfortified Douro wines. This year’s tasting was a showcase for the successful 2007 vintage including a smattering of recently declared Port (details of which can be found eslewhre on this website). There were well over 100 wines in the tasting so there was little time to ponder. Consequently some of my notes are quite short. This is a small selection of some of the most impressive and innovative wines from the tasting.  I gave more time to the red than the whites but there were some lovely dry whites, especially Niepoort (Tiara, Redoma Branco and Redoma Branco Reserva). The wines are listed by producer in the order they were tasted.

 Symington Family Estates

Chryseia 2007 **** + ?

 I have been critical of this wine in the past, borne out by my tasting of the 2000 in the spring of 2009. Made from grapes grown at Quinta de Perdiz, Quinta da Vila Velha and Quinta do Vesúvio (see below), total production amounted to 35,000 bottles. The grape varieties are 50% Touriga Nacional and 50% Touriga Franca both of which ripened well in 2007. Big, dense, serious red, new oak very much evident needing time to integrate, sweet fruit, soft and fleshy with the floral character of Touriga Nacional showing through, ripe, naturally sweet fruit offset by a lovely streak of acidity. Combines power with elegance. 18 

Post-Scriptum 2007 ***

Efectively the second wine to Chryseia: a blend of 40% Tinta Roriz, 35% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Barroca and 5% from old interplanted vines. Nine months gestation in 400 litre French oak before bottling in July 2008: elegant, forward compared compared to Chryseia, not a big wine, soft cherry and plum fruit complemented by soft ripe tannins. Elegant. 15.5

Prazo de Roriz 2007 ***

 The second wine of Quinta de Roriz, made by the Symingtons before they bought the estate outright in 2009. Lovely, dense, ripe sweet fruit, firm and broad, supple and not aggressive with sweet fruit and ripe tannins. Always very good value.     16

 Quinta do Vesúvio 2007 ****

 This is the second time I have tasted this red from the most stately estate in the Douro. It is made up from 70% Touriga Nacional, 20% Touriga Franca and 10% Tinta Amarela, following 22 days cuvaison the wine spent 10 months in new 400 litre French oak barrels and bottled in September 2008: dense, new oak still very evident, very sauve in style, ripe tannins and plummy fruit, smooth, suave and not aggressive like some young Douro reds. Quite pricey at £45. 17.5

 Pombal do Vesúvio 2007 ***

 The second wine of Quinta do Vesúvio: dark, similarly soft, sappy-sweet fruit, easy going yet quite sophisticated in style but lacking the density and concentration of the main wine (above). A bargain (?) at £18 bottle. 16


Redoma Branco Reserva 2008 ****

Closed, still quite green, taut, needs time to develop in bottle. A lovely streak of steely acidity runs right the way through. Will be very fine in another few months. 17.5

 Batuta 2007 ****

 Dark, tight knit, characteristically firm, foursquare tannins, quite dry and austere in style at this stage, good length. Should develop very well in bottle.  17

 Robustus 2004 ****

 Dense, rich dark chocolate fruit, really powerful vinous punch. Makes up in power for what it lacks, at this stage anayway, in finesse.  17.5

 Doda 2007 ****

An inspired  blend of wines from Portugal’s two greatest wine regions: Douro and Dão. Fragrant (suggesting a high percentage of Touriga Nacional) yet dense and rich with fine balance of fruit and ripe gravelly tannins. This has the finesse of young Graves and will keep and develop well. Not cheap though at £48. 18

Ramos Pinto

 Duas Quintas Reserva 2007 ****

 Very attractive cherry fruit, quite dense with more to give both on the nose and palate; well defined, very fresh and fruit driven. Captures the Douro fruit beautifully. £28 17

 Duas Quintas Reserva Especial 2007 ****

 Still closed, solid, ripe broad tannins, great depth and weight, concentrated, tar and chocolate, big and powerful yet well balanced. Big yet well poised. £46 17.5

 Quinta do Crasto

 The two top wines from 80 / 90 year old vineyards on this beautifully located estate midway between Régua and Pinhão:

 Quinta do Crasto Vinha Maria Teresa 2007 ****

 Deep, opaque colour; closed, ripe, naturally sweet, rich berry fruit, tar and spice, wonderful ripeness, depth and breadth, retaining freshness on the finish.   17

 Quinta do Crasto Vinha da Ponte 2007 ****

 The bigger of the two wines, powerful though closed with much more to give, dense, rich and powerful, big, ripe leathery tannins, chewy, meaty, savoury, finishes with a flourish. Very good indeed. 18

 Xisto 2007 *** / ****

 Made at Quinta do Crasto but a separate project, Jorge Roquette in partnership with  Jean-Michel Cazes: open, fragrant, fine, new oak still evident, floral fruit, contrastingly soft and supple following on immediately from Quinta do Crasto. Already developed and drinking well. 16.5

Quinta da Gaivosa

 Quinta da Gaivosa Vinha de Loredo 2007 *** / ****

 From 100 year old vines: new wood still dominates, very fresh with good depth and balance, not big or powerful but elegant, has finesse. Fresh berry fruit continues onto the finish. €45 16.5

Abandonado 2007 ****

Dense, tar and spice, new oak, lashings of sweet fruit, liquorice-like concentration, rich, multi-layered, wonderful expression of old Douro vines but expensive at €60. 18

 More to follow.....

Location: Tate Modern, London


19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)

17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)

15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)

13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)

10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)

8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)

Below 8 Faulty