Once Upon a Tasting - @Douro Boys Summit 2015
Updated: May 14, 2018
In June 2015 it was my privilege and total delight to attend The Douro Boys Summit in Portugal. It all began early one spring morning, as I checked my email. There it was! An invitation to attend an #internationalwinetrip in an historic site. Dreams do come true!
The Douro Boys is an association of five wine estates: Quinta do Vallado, Niepoort, Quinta do Crasto, Quinta Vale Do Maria and Quinta do Vale Meão.
These five winemakers are taking Portuguese wines to new heights on the world stage. With Quintas(wine estates) located along the famed #Douro Valley, a #WorldHeritageSite, they are using their winemaking skills and enthusiasm to showcase dry, wonderfully expressive Portuguese wines. Their activities have placed Douro wines on the map of the world’s greatest and most prestigious wine regions. Their wines have obtained excellent scores in Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, Vinum, El Mundo Vino and many other wine publications. Among many distinctions, a score of 97 was awarded by Wine Spectator to the Quinta do Vale Meao 2004.
For three days, wine professionals from across Europe and North America met to attend masterclasses in Portuguese whites, reds and the #Port that is so justly famous. I’ll just mention that we tasted a satiny 1912 Colheita Port during our first luncheon and finished our last day with a $2,000. VV Niepoort that was unforgettably smooth. The Douro Boys gave succinct descriptions of each Quinta’s offerings and led tours of their vineyards and wineries. Meals were often leisurely outdoor gatherings alongside the spectacular scenery of the Douro Valley.
The Douro Valley is meticulously planted with grape vines, olive trees and a few fruit trees, in undulating patterns that make the whole area a living sculpture. You have to see the steep rolling hills of the Douro Valley to appreciate the devotion of those who plant and tend these vineyards. And you have to experience Portuguese hospitality and joie de vivre to make lasting friendships and memories for a lifetime. A party beside an infinity pool finished the last evening. For a Canadian emerging from a cold Ottawa spring, this was a perfect ending to a wonderful day.
We tasted dozens of wines as we toured each Quinta. The whites are typically dry and delicate, with slight herbal touches. They are perfect as #aperitifs or with seafood. A favourite was #Crasto Superior Branco 2014, with clean, fresh flavours. The elegant reds are complex, layered, with dark fruit flavours and great acidity. They are made to accompany food. One of my favourites was a velvety #Vallado 2012; very concentrated dark fruit and berry flavours with subtle spices and a touch of mocha, balanced, with good acidity.
#Portuguese wines consistently offer superb craftsmanship and excellent value. If you haven’t tasted Portuguese wine in a while, get acquainted with them soon. You’ll be glad you did.
Accredited Sommelier & Wine/Food/Travel Writer
photo credit J. Staples