Douro Bake

One of the hottest wine regions in Europe, the Douro River Valley is where Port is made. The valley is a deep chasm carved into a forbidding sun-baked mountainous landscape with terraced vineyards climbing up the steep slopes. The traditional Port grapes grown here (touriga nacional, tinta roriz, touriga francesa, tinta cao and tinta barroca) are all thick-skinned varieties that can withstand blistering heat. That said, once most styles of Ports are made, they are immediately shipped down river to warehouses in the town of Oporto on the cooler Atlantic coast. Here, away from the  considerable heat, Ports age more gracefully. Interestingly, however, some styles of Ports are intentionally left upriver so that they can be exposed to the high temperatures (known as the “Douro Bake”). For example, early-drinking tawnies such as Cockburn’s Fine Tawny is left upriver, where the hotter climate speeds up the aging process rendering a light tawny color and classic nutty/butterscotch/tawny flavor in about three years.

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