Discovering Portugal’s Douro: A Blind Tasting Of Four Top Douro Reds

Portugal’s Douro Valley, celebrated for its dramatic terraced vineyards and a deep-rooted winemaking heritage, presents a diverse array of flavors and styles in its red wines. Although Portugal and the Douro wines are not areas I’m deeply familiar with, this tasting was a perfect opportunity for me to explore and expand my knowledge of these intriguing wines. In a recent blind tasting session, I was joined by my friend Jason, a true connoisseur of Portuguese wines. Jason, who owns a holiday home in Portugal, has a passion for the region’s viticulture. For our tasting, he contributed an array of charcuterie and nibbles, complementing the four top Douro reds that I brought along. This combination set the stage for a captivating journey through the flavors of the Douro.

Our first wine was Quinta da Silveira Reserva 2015.

Quinta da Silveira, nestled in the heart of the Douro, is known for its dedication to tradition and quality. This family-owned estate, steeped in history, meticulously tends to its vineyards, ensuring that each bottle captures the essence of their unique terroir.

The Quinta da Silveira Reserva 2015 is a deep ruby treasure from the Douro. Its nose tantalizes with ripe blackberries, plums, floral hints, and a whisper of vanilla and spice from oak aging. Full-bodied and rich, it glides smoothly on the palate, blending dark fruit flavors with chocolate and a subtle herbal touch. The tannins are well-integrated, and the acidity finely tuned, culminating in a satisfyingly long finish. My Rating: 4.3/5.0

This was followed by two wines from Casa Ferreirinha: Casa Ferreirinha, Callabriga Douro 2020.

Casa Ferreirinha, a pioneer in the region, has been a standard-bearer of Douro’s winemaking excellence for decades. Known for blending traditional methods with modern techniques, they create wines that are both expressive and contemporary.

The Callabriga 2020 from Casa Ferreirinha represents the modern facet of Douro wines. Its dark ruby hue with a purple rim signals youth and energy. Aromatically, it offers stewed red and black fruits, violet, and a gentle spiciness. The palate is a dance of cherries and blackberries with a peppery twist, supported by a refreshing acidity and medium tannins. The finish is smooth and elegant. My Rating: 4.1/5.0

The we had Casa Ferreirinha Quinta da Leda Douro 2019.

The Quinta da Leda, another jewel in Casa Ferreirinha’s crown, is a testament to their craftsmanship. With a deep ruby intensity, it exudes aromas of blackberries, cassis, cedar, tobacco, and spice. This rich, full-bodied wine offers a velvety texture, with dark fruit flavors enriched by chocolate and a harmonious oak influence. Its tannins are firm yet smooth, leading to a prolonged, memorable finish. My Rating: 4.4/5.0

The last wine for the evening was Prats & Symington (P+S) Chryseia Douro 2019.

Prats & Symington is a winemaking project that commenced in 1999, representing a collaboration between the Bordeaux expertise of Bruno Prats (For 28 years, he served as the CEO and winemaker of his family’s vineyard, Chateau Cos d’Estournel, a renowned Cru Classé in Saint Estèphe, Médoc) and the extensive experience of Symington Family Estates, a leading premium Port producer. This venture is acclaimed for producing exceptional Douro wines.

The first wine from Prats & Symington was Chryseia 2000, which quickly garnered national and international acclaim. Chryseia, along with its second wine, Post Scriptum, consistently ranks among the top-rated Douro wines. Remarkably, Chryseia was the first Portuguese non-fortified wine to be featured in Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 Wines, making a significant mark with its 2011 vintage ranked at number three.

Our wine, the P+S Chryseia 2019, also stands as a benchmark in modern Douro wines. It flaunts a stunning deep ruby color. Aromatic complexity abounds with ripe plums, blueberries, tobacco, and floral notes, elegantly intertwined with oak. The palate balances power and finesse, featuring silky tannins and robust acidity. Dark fruit flavors are beautifully integrated with spice and chocolate, culminating in a sophisticated, lingering finish. My Rating: 4.5/5.0

This blind tasting adventure reaffirmed the Douro Valley’s reputation as a powerhouse of diverse and compelling red wines. Each wine, with its unique characteristics, painted a vivid picture of the region’s winemaking prowess. From the traditional elegance of Quinta da Silveira to the modern finesse of Prats & Symington’s Chryseia, the Douro continues to enchant and surprise with every sip. Whether you’re a seasoned wine lover or a curious novice, the Douro Valley’s reds are a journey worth taking.

Written by

Bernard Marr has a deep passion for wine. He has written hundreds of articles on wine, including features for Forbes, covering wine-making and industry trends. Away from the world of wine, Bernard is a world-renown business and technology futurist. He is the award winning author of over 20 best-selling books and has a combined audience of nearly 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters.

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