Douro Wines: More Than Just Port

Look for Porto and the Douro river in the northern half of Portugal.
Portugal wine map courtesy of

Portugal Is More Than Just Port
The Douro river valley is famous worldwide as being the home of Port wine. With the coastal city of Porto as the epicenter of the Port business, the vineyards of the Douro valley are upriver quite a ways. Did you know that Port houses also make still wines? They are a relatively recent addition to their commercial offerings, although they have made dry wines for many years for their own enjoyment. Douro reds are made from the same grapes, you’ll notice some of the same flavor influences. Plus, as dry red wines, they are perfect for foods with big flavors to match those bold tones from the Douro river valley. I recently had the opportunity to try a couple of Douro red wines from the Symington Family, makers of many Port brands including Graham’s, Dow’s and Warre’s.

Disclosure: These wines were provided as media samples. No other compensation was involved. All opinions are mine.

Douro Red Wines From Symington Estates
From the winery:

“One of the great estates of the Douro Superior (the sub-region of the Douro farthest East) and home of some of the world’s finest Ports, it is also one of the region’s largest estates (336 acres under vine). This treasured quinta provides the fruit for Pombal do Vesuvio, a unique blend of three Portuguese grapes: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Amarela. The first two provide the backbone and rich structure of the wine, while Tinta Amarela lends additional acidity and bright fruit aromas to this Douro red wine.”

Pombal do Vesuvio Douro DOC 2015 13.5% abv (sample, $28 SRP or online here)
In contrast to Port, the Douro wines are made in a traditional red winemaking process. For Pombal do Vesuvio, grapes are hand harvested in small bins. The grapes are destemmed and crushed. They are handled gently during fermentation, and are aged for ten months in French oak barrels prior to bottling.

Eye: Hazy, deep purple, transparent only at the very edge. Stained legs. This is a deep, dark wine!
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Deep blue fruit, very ripe, blueberry pie, leather with a floral touch, honeysuckle behind the fruit. The wine opened up nicely from a double decant and a few hours open.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity flavors. Full body, medium+ acidity, medium tannins. Abundant fruit, ripe blueberries, blackberries, nice roundness from oak but the oak flavor influence is very well controlled.

(click on any photo below for full-size slide show. Hit escape to return to the post)

Pombal do Vesuvio with Tri-Tip Roast Beef
The Pombal do Vesuvio was an excellent choice with the smoky beef roast with just a bit of char. The vegetables also had the characteristic flavor and texture coming from being grilled over charcoal in a cast iron pan. The rich fruit flavors and plush texture of the wine were plenty flavorful to match up with the flavors on the plate. I especially enjoyed being able to taste the similarity between the dry wine and the Ports I enjoy after dinner.

Vale do Bomfim
From the winery:

“Initially made by the Symingtons to enjoy solely with family and friends, the wine’s global success  was destined after years of compliments and encouragement. The fruit that goes into Vale do Bomfim is  from the same Douro Valley vineyards that make Dow’s acclaimed Vintage Port, including the legendary Quinta do Bomfim. Fifty percent of the wine is composed from a field blend of indigenous varieties, while Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional make up the balance for this red blend. Compelling floral aromas showcase red and black fruit and peppery spice on the palate.”

Vale do Bomfim Douro DOC 2016 ($13 SRP or online here)
Eye: Clear, medium ruby with a purple edge. light staining on the legs
Nose: Clean, sweet red fruit, strawberry candy on the nose. A bit of leather and pencil lead in the background.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity. Rich, mouthfilling texture. Medium acidity, medium+ tannins. Medium+ alcohol, medium+ body. Rich ripe red fruit with some dried dark fruit, figs and raisins behind the bright candied fruit. Nice rich texture. This wine could be enjoyable by itself, it was nice with lamb chops and it seemed very much at home with fresh rosemary seasoning on the lamb.



One Response to “Douro Wines: More Than Just Port”
  1. Lynn says:

    Last fall Mark and I visited Quinta do Bomfin in Pinhao. They have a vineyard walk with information on grapes and other aspects of viticulture. Very nice wines. I’d love to have a sip with the plate in your last photo!

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