Why the Douro
Here are the main reasons why the Douro is such an exciting blend of innovation and tradition.
Wine: Wine country for many centuries, the Douro was traditionally famed for its great Port wines. In recent years, the Douro has also begun producing some of the best non fortified wines currently being made in the world. In 2014, 3 out of the top 5 in the influential Wine Spectator “Top 100 Lists” were Douro wines. Despite all the attention they are getting, these wines are still remarkably good value.
Food: Portuguese food has recently been creating an international buzz from London to New York. The Portuguese are fabulous cooks and the Douro has a tempting choice of restaurants to discover, ranging from simple family-run tascas serving hearty helpings of traditional fare, to new star chef establishments offering succulent reinterpretations of Portuguese classic dishes or petiscos, the local equivalent of tapas. There are also an increasing number of vegetarian and vegan options.
Landscape and architecture: The broad River Douro snakes across the region that bears its name, from its source in Spain to the city of Porto where it finally flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Along each bank noble wine estates (quintas) offer breathtaking views, while historic wine villages cluster round Baroque churches and fine manor houses. Until the 1960s, the wine was transported down the fast flowing river in flat-bottomed boats known as rabelos. Since 2001, the Alto Douro has been preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Cultural Landscape.
Over the years, the wild and romantic Douro Valley has inspired many Portuguese artists, writers and film makers, from the Nobel Prize for Literature, José Saramago, to the great film director, Manoel de Oliveira.