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  • Writer's pictureKate Simpson

Virtual Tasting: The Red Wines of the Douro

Is a wine region capable of jealousy? You probably know that Spain’s famed Ribera del Duero is home to high-quality wines. When the Duero crosses the border and enters Portugal it becomes the Douro. Yes, high-quality wines come from the Douro as well and the Red Wines of the Douro is your opportunity to explore this up-and-coming appellation...

So began our invite to this unique tasting of some of the most interesting red wines of Portugal (in my humble opinion!). I am a big fan of Tempranillo (or Tinta Roriz as it's known in Portugal) and the Ribera del Duero region in Spain and so I was eager to taste wines from the terroir just across the border. But more than that I wanted to find out about the Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca grapes.

Here we are just getting set up...

Alan Gardner was our host this evening. Alan is a student of history, a patron of the culinary arts, and well-known internationally as a wine scholar. He is a cornerstone of the Toronto wine scene and a founding member of the Toronto Vintners Club! Alan has an insatiable interest in Madeira wine, which forms the base of his knowledge of Port and Portuguese wines. He is uniquely suited to lead our session tonight and he started as any good wine expert does: with a review of the Treaty of Windsor, 1386 (between the UK and Portugal). This agreement opened the door to giving Portuguese wines preferential treatment in the British wine market over French wines. Which was excellent timing for the British who were just becoming huge fans of fortified wine: enter Port. Did you know it wasn't until the mid-1980s when Portugal joined the EU that Portugal started looking at making dry red and white wines with their unique range of grapes? And thankful we are too that they did and for giving us grapes such Vinho Verde, and Touriga Nacional.

The wines in our tasting all had a ripe and well extracted colour - a couple were showing their age as one would expect. All but one wine was a blend. And everyone was looking forward to tasting the Chryseia ($102 a bottle when it was purchased!). Would we be able to identify it in a blind tasting like this? Would we be able to identify the 100% Touriga Nacional wine from its blended neighbours?

Here's our lineup:

Here are the full scores from the evening. It's been a while since the Guest and Group agreed on all 4 of their top wines! My scores didn't match up to either Guest or Group as I seemed to prefer G to D, and E over H. But how about you?

And see the original tasting notes for these glorious eight wines below:

Download PDF • 98KB

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