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Wine From The Douro Region Of Portugal

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The Douro Region

Douro wine region of Portugal photo

The Douro Wine Region of Portugal

Douro is one of the wildest and most rugged regions in Portugal, carved by the valley of the Douro River and the poverty of the schistous soils.

Nowhere else in Portugal is man's intervention in the landscape so evident, visible in the thousands of terraces scattered throughout the region, defying the gravity of the steep slopes where the vines are planted. For its beauty and monumentality, the region was recognized by UNESCO as a "World Heritage Site".

Douro region runs along the axis of the River Douro, stretching from the Spanish border to about ninety kilometres from the city of Porto. Highly mountainous, the region is protected from the Atlantic influence by the Serra do Marão. The climate is usually dry, with cold winters and very hot summers, ranging from moderate rainfall in the west to the almost desert-like dryness of the land near the border.

It is in Douro Valley that Port Wine is born - a fortified Portuguese wine. It is the main ambassador of national wines, supported in the last two decades by the still Douro wines (mainly Portuguese Douro red wine which is considered one of the best Portuguese red wine).

A map of the wine regions of Portugal, including the Northern Vinho Verde wine region.

The Douro Sub-Regions

Douro is divided into three sub-regions, Baixo Corgo, Cima Corgo and Douro Superior. Baixo Corgo, under the direct influence of the Serra do Marão, is the coolest and rainiest sub-region, the most fertile and with the highest density of vines.

Cima Corgo is known as the heart of Douro, where many of the wines from the upper end of the Port wine segment are born. Douro Superior, the largest sub-region, is the hottest, driest and most extreme, but also the least rugged, marked by dryness and hellish summers.

It is one of the richest regions in terms of indigenous grape varieties, with hundreds of unique varieties and an extensive area of old vines, sometimes planted with dozens of varieties mixed together.

Among the hundreds of varieties, five red varieties stand out, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional, selected for their excellence in producing Port Wine. The white varieties Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Moscatel, Rabigato and Viosinho also stand out.


As Port wine exports increased, the practice of adding brandy started. This way, the wine resisted the sea journey unaltered and the stop of the fermentation process with brandy made the wine sweeter and more appropriate to the taste of the English market.

Douro: Demarcated Region

In 1756 the Companhia Geral da Agricultura das Vinhas do Alto Douro was created. This organisation's main competencies were to limit the region and register the vines, classify the wines according to theirquality and establish certain winemaking practices in the region. It was the birth of one of the world's first demarcated regions.

The name Porto

The name "Porto" comes from the fact that the wine was stored and sold from the port located between the city of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. The wine would go down the Douro River in rabelo boats and age in the warehouses of Vila Nova de Gaia, since this area has little temperature variation during the year.

Information and images provided by Vini Portugal / Wines of Portugal www.winesofportugal.com

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