Portuguese Wines “Get No Respect!”
Portuguese wines “get no respect,” our inner Rodney Dangerfield tell us as we spent a glorious few days exploring the Douro and Beira Interior wine regions of Northern Portugal. Well, they certainly do deserve their fair share of respect anyway.
A recent visit to the Douro Valley and Beira Interior regions of Northern and Central Portugal reinforced the concept that Portuguese wines have much more to offer in terms of complexity, aromas, spices and flavor than the U.S. market at least seem to recognize. Sure there are the ports and the slightly alcoholic versions of Sprite labeled as Vinho Verde, but the real stars are wine producers from villages most wine lovers have not even heard of.
First of all, the region is staggeringly beautiful. The Douro Valley is justifiably listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Region. It’s worthwhile to take a few days to explore the valley and its hundreds of wineries. But the main thing for wine lovers is to study up a bit on the grape varietals and not be afraid to stray from comfort wines.
Best wines deserving of respect:
• Raya, from Beira Interior, produces only about 2,600 bottles per year of a rich, multi-layered red wine made from Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca. This one will stand up to the best from anywhere!
• A white from Quinta dos Currais made from síria grapes is aromatic, has great salty minerality and is a match for viognier and other more famous cousins.
• A white port wine from Morgadio da Calçada is dry, subtle, refreshing and nearly impossible to find!
Check out some of these luxury hotels:
Douro Scala: A luxury hotel about 1 ½ hours from Porto set in the middle of vineyards terraced to the Douro River. The old part of the hotel was an ancient manor house with a fantastic ceiling! Rooms are large and comfortable.
The Aquapura Douro Hotel: Set on a 5 hectare estate with magnificent views of the Douro Valley is an astoundingly beautiful hotel in the most beautiful part of the valley. The hotel was built out of an ancient manor house and renovated with the latest fixtures, decoration and furnishing. Many of the rooms have large Japanese baths and tatami mats.
Pousada Convento de Belmonte: A renovated ancient convent in one of the most interesting villages in Beira. The village is famous as the birthplace of Pedro Álvares Cabral, credited as the discoverer of Brazil. Belmonte is also regarded as the capital of the Beira wine industry.
Casas do Côro: A hotel that makes up most of the wine village of Marialva, in a region of Beira “who’s natural setting has not yet been touched by Man.”
There is something wonderful to explore in Portugal wines that you might give a try before reaching for that everyday bottle. We promise that it will not disappoint.
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