10 facts about the Douro Wine Region...
- In 1756, the first governing body for the Port trade established the Douro Demarcated Region. A century before Bordeaux, this was the very first time that the quality of any wine anywhere was classified according to its geographic origin.
- The Douro is divided in 3 sub-regions: Baixo Corgo - Cima Corgo - Douro Superior - covering 250,000 ha, 45,000 being under wine.
- The Douro is surrounded by 4 mountain chains, protecting the region from the Atlantic influence. The Douro is therefore dry, cold in winter and warm in summer.
- More than 80 different local grapes in the Douro. Every single Port is a blend of several grapes. The most planted grape is Touriga Franca and the most internationally known are Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo).
- The altitude in the Douro varies from 50 m up to more than 600 m above sea level. Vineyards at low altitude produce the best Ports and high altitude vineyards produce fresh and elegant white wines and Moscatel.
- The soil and sub-soil is made out of schist. It is rich in nutrients, has water retention and thermo-regulation properties. The dry conditions, combined with warm temperatures in summer produce low-yield wines with a lot of color, great complexity, body and depth.
- The Beneficio is a unique system that classify every single vineyard in the Douro under 3 main criteria, soil, climate and cultural conditions. Vineyards ranked with the letter A (more than 1200 points) are allowed to fortify the largest proportion of must into Port wine.
- The IVDP (instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto) is the main regulating and controlling body of The Douro Demarcated Region.
- "The first wine which could worthily claim the title of Vintage Port was conceived during the 1775 Vintage. One year before the American war of Independence." Rich, Rare and Red: A guide to Port. Ben Howkins.
- Portugal's entry to the EU in 1986 offered the opportunity to new smaller firms to enter the Port wine market. The new regulation overturned the former 1927 law that stipulated that all exports of Port wine had to originate from Vila Nova de Gaia, located opposite to the historic city of Oporto.
Douro map: credit to the Symington Family Estate