Alright folks, let’s dig into the Douro, Portugal’s most heralded region.
Built on centuries of Port glory, recent decades have seen a large spike in the amount of high quality dry reds. Blended from traditional Portuguese varieties like Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, and others, these dry reds can be stunning, age-worthy and very reasonably priced considering the quality.
Yes, you can spend a whole lot on dry Douro reds (some are included in this report), but I’m frequently blown away by the high quality, complexity and serious structure of many red blends in the $15-$25 range.
I recently tasted through a bunch of Douro wines, including a range of dry reds and a few entry-level Ports. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.
2015 Esporão Douro Minas Quinta dos Murças - Portugal, Douro
Bright purple. Nose of dark plums, black cherry, violets, dark earth and charcoal, pencil lead, sweet herbs and some vanilla. Medium-full-bodied with moderate acidity and a fleshy texture with some dusty but grippy tannins. Dark plums and black currant fruit, deep but fresh, with tones of charcoal, iron, vanilla, and cedar. Structure for a few years but this begs for summer 2017 grill-outs. Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Roriz and Tinto Cão, aged in concrete vats and old French oak casks for nine months. (87 points)
2015 Esporão Douro Margem Quinta dos Murças - Portugal, Douro
Bright purple. Nose of black and some red currants, gorgeous roses and violets, potting soil, smashed rocks and asphalt, some cola and cocoa powder notes. Full with solid tannic backbone but it stays velvety and smooth and shows medium acidity for freshness. A great balance between vibrant and rich fruit (red and black currants and plums), complex elements of black pepper, clove, anise, loamy soil, pencil shavings. Complex but so well-rounded, with a smooth, long finished packed with rocky minerals. From vines planted in 1980 in schist soils, this blend of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca is aged nine months in old French oak casks. (91 points)
2012 Esporão Douro VV47 Quinta dos Murças - Portugal, Douro
Rich purple color. Such beautiful complexity and depth in the aromatic department: waves of black currant, plum, black cherry, roasted fig, accented by cocoa powder, iron, graphite, anise and chewing tobacco. Full-bodied with lots of tannic strength but plenty of moderating acidity, and it all lines up wonderfully. Dark but bright black fruit (currant, blackberry, dark plums), matched with graphite, charcoal, tobacco, mint, anise. Long, lingering, mineral-packed finish. A long, long life ahead for this beauty of a Douro red. From vines planted in 1947, this blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Sousão, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz is aged in old French oak for 12 months. (94 points)
2014 Dow Douro Vale do Bomfim - Portugal, Douro
Deep ruby/light purple color. Aromas cherry pie and juicy plums, with some incense sticks, charcoal and scorched earth. Nice and tart on the palate with dusty/light tannins on a full-bodied wine (14.5%), but there’s plenty of sour cherry and black currant fruit. Notes of pencil lead, charcoal and coffee grounds. This is ready to drink but could hold two years or so, I could see this being a perfect Portuguese red for a by-the-glass list at a restaurant/wine bar. A blend of Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz, aged nine months in French oak. (88 points)
2015 Prats and Symington Douro Prazo de Roriz - Portugal, Douro
Bright purple color. On the nose: deep cassis, blackberry jam, roasted fig, lots of violets, cocoa powder, clove and coffee going on here. Juicy and plush on the palate, full-bodied and some grip to the tannins but it stays tangy. A core of bold but tangy fruit mixes with complex elements off roasted herbs, cocoa, violet petals , graphite. Complex but delicious, approachable now but structure to unwind for a few years. So impressive for the price. Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Amarela, aged in French oak. (90 points)
2013 Prats and Symington Douro Post Scriptum de Chryseia - Portugal, Douro
Light purple color. Aromas of tart blackberry and cassis, backed up with campfire smoke, anise, loamy earth and black tea. Tart acidity frames the palate for this medium-bodied but sturdy wine, and the balance is impressive. Dark blackberry and tart black cherry fruit play well with notes of anise, charcoal, pencil shavings and black tea. A serious wine for the money that deserves a good decant or a few years in the cellar. Mostly Touriga Franca, with Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. (91 points)
N.V. Graham Porto Six Grapes Reserve - Portugal, Douro, Porto
Purple colored. Nose of roasted figs, currant jam, plum cake, some anise, vanilla and ginger snap. Full and sweet, easily approachable on the palate, I get blueberry jam, roasted fig, and plum cake topped with cocoa, licorice, vanilla, espresso. Good, consistent, reliable introductory Port. (87 points)
N.V. Graham Porto Six Grapes Special River Quintas - Portugal, Douro, Porto
Rich purple color. Rich aromas of plum cake, black currant, roasted figs, some cocoa, spiced black tea and ginger snap notes. Full but stays quite fresh with accessible but structured tannins. Flavors of black cherry jam, roasted plums and figs, laced with cocoa, coffee, sweet caramel and dusty earth. Impressive depth and complexity. A blend of old vine fruit form two different Graham vineyards, Quinta do Tua’s Old Terraces and Quinta dos Malvedos’ Vinha dos Barcos. (89 points)
N.V. Warre Porto Warrior - Portugal, Douro, Porto
Medium purple colored. Aromas of roasted fig, blackberry jam, coffee, dark chocolate, charcoal and coconut notes. Full, shows some solid structure with chewy tannins and low acidity. A very cool earthy/tobacco note accents the black cherry and dark plum fruit. Notes of anise, spiced black tea and roasted nuts. Impressive depth and surprising complexity at this price point. (89 points)
N.V. Cockburn Porto Special Reserve - Portugal, Douro, Porto
SRP: $18Dark ruby colored. Nose of saucy black cherries, fig cookies, vanilla and dark chocolate shavings. On the palate, this shows fig cookies, roasted plums, sweet coffee and chocolate shavings on a frame of light tannins and low acidity. Notes of vanilla and ginger snap, this is a simple, hedonistic wine for the price. (85 points)
This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.