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  • Rio Douro Wine

     The Rio Douro (golden river) lends its name to the north-eastern part of Portugal. This wine-growing territory has been known for its wines for more than 2,000 years, especially for the very

    special vinho do Porto, which is better known as port or port wine.Whilst port has been made here for centuries it seems as if far more table wines are now also being made in the Douro valley. In recent years indeed there has been more unfortified wine produced than port. The vineyards of the Upper Douro start about 62 miles (100 km inland of the harbour town of Porto. The majority of them are sited on hills of basalt and granite. The climate is fairly dry of the semi-continental type with fairly big temperature ranges between the hot summers and cold winters.

    Good quality red and white wines are produced here, varying in style depending on the variety of grapes used and the wishes of the wine-maker. The choice for white wines is made from Malvasia Pina, Rabigato, Viosinho, Donzelinho, Verdelho, and many others. The red wine grapes are Bastardo, Mourisco Tinto, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Prancisca, Touriga Nacional, and Tinto cao. Although the different types of Douro wine vary widely there has been an enormous leap forward in their quality in recent decades. Douro Branco is a fresh lively and sometimes very aromatic wine with a delicate and refined taste. It is certainly not a heavy wine. This wine must be at least 11 % alcohol and it is required to have aged for at least nine months in the bottle before being sold. Drinking temperature is 50- 53.6°F (10- 12°C) .

    Douro Tinto exists in many styles. Some of them are young, fruity, almost playful, while others are intentionally more robust and powerful. This depends on the grapes used, method of vinification, and length of cask maturing that has been undergone. All Douro reds must be at least eighteen months old before they may be sold and contain at least 11 % alcohol. Whichever Douro you may choose, they are always surprisingly good value for money.

    The modern style wines are very colourful and fruity.They are velvet smooth, juicy, and very tasty. The traditional style wines are fairly dark, very aromatic, often somewhat rustic with hints of terroir including granite. Drinking temperature is 53.6-57.2°F (12- 14°C ) for the modern-style wines and 57.2- 62.6°F (14-17°C) for the traditional ones.

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  • The Cahors French Wine


    The vineyards of Cahors are among the oldest in France, enjoying great fame as early as the fifth century. This French wine could be shipped throughout the world without loss of quality because it was robust, complex, and highly concentrated. Consequently wine from Cahors was much prized in America but especially in Tsarist Russia.

    Nothing happened around Cahors for many years after the phylloxera epidemic of the late nineteenth century, with the vineyards falling into neglect and little more than 'plonk' for daily consumption being produced. A halt was called to this neglect after World War II.


    Ideal circumstances

    The vineyards lie between the 44th and 45th parallel. This latitude guarantees a fine, full-bodied wine in the northern hemisphere.

    Other important influences on the success of the vineyards is their position midway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean. This protects them from the moist influence of the westerly winds and from the generally rainy autumn weather of the Mediterranean climate, so that the grapes can ripen fully. There are two different soil types for Cahors: the valley of the Lot has underlying chalk with a topsoil of alluvium with outcrops of boulders and scree; and the chalk uplands or Causses with a fairly shallow upper layer of stones and marl.


    The grapes

    Only red wine is produced in Cahors. The basic grape variety is the Auxerrois, which is also known elsewhere as Cot Noir. This must be a minimum 70 per cent of the vines in order to qualify for AC Cahors status. The Auxerrois imparts the backbone to this French wine, the strong tannin, its colour, and its potential for ageing.

    Traditional Cahors red is made using solely Auxerrois or this grape combined with Tannat (known from Madiran and Irouleguy) which has many of the characteristics of Auxerrois. The more modern style of wine often contains a substantial amount of Merlot, which makes this French wine more rounded, more comforting, and more aromatic.


    The wines

    The modern style Cahors is best drunk while young. Its tannin makes it the perfect accompaniment for goose and duck. Drink this good french wine at 14°C (57.2°F).

    The tradition-style Cahors is much broader and complex. If drunk while young this French wine is dominated by tannin so it is better to wait five to ten years with better wines. These are rounder, velvet soft, fullbodied, and powerful. The bouquet is much finer when more mature. Drink this French wine at 16°C (60.60.8°F).

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