Best Douro Valley wines to buy
Our wine expert reveals how the hand-crafted wines from the Douro region in Portugal offer fantastic value for money – plus find out which bottles to buy
Looking for the best Douro Valley wine? Want to know which wine to buy for a special occasion? Read on for the finest bottles available, then check out the best Portuguese red wines and Portuguese vinho verde wines to buy.
Discover why all wine benefits from chilling with our guide to chilling wine.
Portugal’s Douro wine region takes its name from the river that flows from high in the remote mountains on the Spanish borderlands to the east and winds down to the gorgeous city of Porto on the Atlantic coast.
It is most famous for port, those red or tawny fortified wines most of us know as traditional accompaniments to cheese, as well as the now trendy dry white ports we love to mix with tonic for a summery aperitif. Aged white ports, seductive with a touch of sweetness, are less well known, and made in far smaller quantities, but can also be wonderful to drink.
The Douro also makes fantastic table wines which deserve attention. Mainly reds but with some notably good whites, the wines are usually made from blends of the local indigenous grapes that are also used to make port – they are known as field blends because different varietals are often grown in the same vineyard and are vinified together.
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It is a remarkable landscape, known as one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world, and the wines reflect this wild remoteness. The vines are grown on narrow terraces, some more than 400 years old, that follow the contours of the steep and winding slopes of the valley in seemingly perfect parallel lines, carved out by hand and supported by high walls made from the friable local schist rock. Almost all the work in the vineyard is still done by hand because the terraces are too narrow, and the slopes too steep, to use tractors or other machinery. Given these demanding conditions, the Douro (like the rest of Portugal) generally offers great value for money.
Most supermarkets stock at least a handful of these wines but the most interesting of them can be hard to track down – try the brilliant FESTA Bottle Shop, an online offshoot of London’s renowned Bar Douro, which imports some of Portugal’s most exciting wines.
Five Portuguese wines to try
Bargain red full of warm spice and ripe, plush fruit with a little sweetness that makes it great with robust meaty dishes such as lamb meatballs.
White blend from very old vines, aged in old oak barrels to give a gentle roundness to the tangy, peachy fruit that has a slightly saline lift.
Clarete is wine made from red and white grapes co-fermented on their skins to make light, savoury red wines such as this.
Fantastic value for this classic Douro red – opulent and silky with brambly fruits and the region’s characteristic herbaceous freshness.
Luscious with baked apple, candied orange peel, toasted nuts and caramel notes, this is wonderful with pudding or cheese – try with this Dutch baby with spiced plums.