The idea that the Douro is (only) a region of red wines is beginning to be outdated.
Although its production continues to be predominantly marked by these wines, among which there are several prestigious references worldwide, Douro whites have been positioning themselves as ambitious wines with a strong personality and conquering a growing number of appreciators.
What makes Douro white wines unique? What are their main characteristics? Read on and find out what distinguishes them from whites from other regions.
Wines that reflect the diversity of the Douro
The extension, the climate variations or the relief differences that define the terroir of the Douro region are very present in the profile of the whites that are born there.
There are several elements that take into account in the creation of their character.
From mountain viticulture, with vines planted on land above 500 metres, where you can obtain grapes with great freshness and a high acidity, sensations generally sought after in a white wine.
But the production of the region's whites isn't only made of altitude. There are vines growing at lower altitudes that, depending on their location and the exposure to the sun, may also produce complex and elegant wines. On north and east-facing slopes, less affected by the high temperatures that are felt in the Douro summer, it's possible to find grapes that reach a good maturity and, at the same time, preserve a good acidity.
The soils also have a word to say here. Although schist predominates in the region, it coexists with some areas of granite formation and even limestone, especially in the higher areas. It is this mixture and transition of soils that gives the Douro the possibility of also presenting white wines of intense freshness and with a quite pronounced mineral profile.
The main white wine grape varieties in the Douro
Douro has a great diversity of white grape varieties that are often blended in the vineyard itself. This phenomenon is especially frequent in the case of old vineyards - vineyards over 40 years old -, where it is possible to find very old grape varieties.
The fact that, over the years, the region has managed to preserve its vast number of traditional grape varieties means that, today, producers and winemakers have at their disposal a wide range of possibilities and combinations, according to the profile of the wine they have in mind.
Even so, grape varieties such as Rabigato and Arinto, which favour the freshness and acidity of these wines, Viosinho and Folgasão, which give more body and intensity, or Gouveio and Côdega do Larinho, which carry a marked aromatic character, are part of the identity of the most modern Douro whites.
The continued and almost exclusive use of traditional varieties continues to be one of the great assets of this region and another of the features that help explain the uniqueness of Douro white wines.
The unique characteristics of Douro white wines
Douro white wines are distinguished from wines from other regions by generally having a greater diversity of grape varieties in their composition. This characteristic gives them greater robustness of body, a good combination between acidity and maturation and greater aromatic complexity, without prejudice to freshness.
The region thus invites the discovery of great wines, with different profiles.
From whites to be drunk young, with a paler tone, refreshing aromas of fruit and flowers and balanced in the mouth, perfect to drink as an aperitif or to accompany fish dishes and salads. There are white wines for ageing, golden in colour, more complex, with a greater aromatic intensity and greater persistence on the palate, which make good pairings with fatty fish dishes - such as salmon or codfish - or chicken. Most of these wines are identified as "Reserva" and "Grande Reserva" and may be kept for a few years before being consumed.
Mirroring the extreme diversity of the region's characteristics, Douro whites have a great capacity to surprise those who taste them.
After a period in which only red wines were considered, the region has also managed to gain a place of respect for its white wines, whose perception of quality is increasingly recognised and valued.
The specific dedication to this type of wine and the growing study around traditional castes that have long been forgotten are exciting the region's producers and giving rise to interesting experiences. A context that seems to augur an even more promising future for Douro whites.
Are you curious?
Take a look at the selection of Douro white wines we have for you in our Uva Wine Shop