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Region of the Month: The Douro

The Douro is the world’s first wine region and is the world’s biggest mountain vineyard. The schist soils and old, mixed vineyards make forward powerfully structured blends with rich, wild fruit and a mineral core.

Key varieties include Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Amarela.

We interviewed Tiago Alves de Sousa from Alves de Sousa Winery in the Douro…

Which is your favourite wine that you make in the Douro?

“Well… that’s almost like asking my parents which son or daughter they like most! The answer is the same – I have no favourites. What I like most about working in the Douro is the character, the personality, the diversity that each vineyard shows. What I try to do in the winery is to express the best that I can that multiplicity of characters. So, for me it’s almost impossible to pick a favourite. They’re just different! But, of course that there’s always some that, for some reason, you particularly empathise with. For me, from the wines I make, “Abandonado” (red D.O.C. Douro) is definitely very special.”

3 words to describe your favourite wine?

“Dramatic – as the vineyard where it comes from, and that named it – “Abandonado” means “Abandoned”, as this steep and rocky 80 year old vineyard located on the top of Quinta da Gaivosa with already many vines missing was indeed abandoned for some time.

Deep – as it has many layers and levels – a complexity that results from having about 20 different grapes blended in the vineyard, expressing and interacting with the rocky soil, the tough climate and the surrounding vegetation.

Authentic – as it has a character on its own – it’s the vineyard talking, without “cosmetics” and no commitments.”

What international food would you match with it?

“Abandonado, in its youth (3-7 years old) needs something rich, with intense flavours. I would pair it with a rich meat, like a wild boar with a berries’ sauce for example, or a confit of pork belly. After some aging (10-15 years), it can be also a good companion for a good steak, like a fillet mignon.”

What do you do when you’re not making wine?

“When I’m not making wine I’m trying to sell it! Now, more seriously, although I love wine and what I do, I also have many other interests.

I’m about to finish a PhD in… viticulture (what a surprise!) as I love research, sciences, and I’m always trying to learn more. I love music, so I listen to a lot of music and I play guitar (usually it’s my kind of “zen moment” after a long working day).

I love to travel and to discover new places and cultures. And, as the vineyards and the wines always require a lot of time and attention, when there’s some spare time there’s nothing better than just enjoying some moments with the family!“

Tiago’s wines are available from www.topselection.co.uk

To find other Douro wines log onto ViniPortugal’s ‘where to buy Portuguese wines website’ where you can search for a bottle of wine or retailer in your local area www.viniportugal.co.uk

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