I was in the Douro Valley recently to discover the red table wines of the region. Although the Douro Valley has historically been identified with the production of port wine, they have always produced rustic table wines for the local population. Until about 20 years ago, the table wines of the region were not exported.
Since then the producers of the region have discovered the demand for quality table wine around the world has exploded and they have spent a considerable amount of time and money in investing in the production of table wine. They use the grapes that are traditonally grown in the region, although some producers have experimented with planting international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah to add to their blends.
At lunch one afternoon in the Douro, I was introduced to the wines of Quinta do Vallado. Quinta do Vallado was founded in 1716 by Dona Antonia Adelaide Ferreira and her descendents still run the production of all their wines, including the ports. Their vineyards comprise all the traditional port varieties (Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, amonst others) and they have recently begun to plant Syrah to be used in the production of their table wines.
The Quinta do Vallado 2009 however is made with 100 percent touriga nacional. They say 100% but in reality, many of the older vineyards in the Douro are field blends and the producers may have a general idea of the varieties in the vineyards but they cannot be entirely sure. Back in the day, the practice was to plant as many varieties as possible to ensure that there would be some grapes to survive the growing season to be harvested. The 2009 is made of grapes that come from 15% old vineyards so there is sure to be something not Touriga Nacional that has managed to sneak into the blend. However, it is a luscious and intense wine – full of deep dark fruit flavours but at the same time have a freshness that the Douro Valley reds possess in abundance. Well-balanced, lifted fruit notes and flavours and smooth tannins make this an very enjoyable wine. The 2010 is very approachable and drinking well now although it will last for some time to come.
The Quinta do Vallado 2009 is available from Bibendum.