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About Portugal

PORTUGAL-This country has been long known for one thing and one thing only as far as serious wine lovers are concerned: Port. That sweet fortified wine no one knows where or how to drink anymore. But that’s changing fast. The country is now making serious table wines, too.

Reds from the Dao and the Douro region now fetch hundreds of dollars per bottle. Gastronomically compelling whites from the Alentejo spiral with freshness and extract. And surprisingly elegant (not just cheap and cheerful) Vinho Verde wines can actually be mistaken for fine Chablis.

At the same time, stylish wine hotels in the Douro Valley and Vinho Verde regions are cropping up that can wow even the most sophisticated world traveller.

I’m talking the gagillion-thread-count, high-design, toe-curlingly-good-spa, celebrity-cheffed-restaurant variety that make you go home and want to ring your banker because you’re inspired to renovate your bedroom, bathroom and beyond.

All that to say, it’s never been a better time to grab a flight to Lisbon and drive to the centre of wine tourism in Portugal — the Douro Valley — where steep terraced vineyards rise up from the Douro River and land has been under vine since Roman times.

This region is where a quiet revolution is taking place.

For centuries, the Portuguese government restricted Douro table wine production to protect the lucrative Port trade. But a law passed in 1986 lifted restrictions and let Portuguese wineries produce and export their own wine independently — rather than just sell it in bulk to foreign owned Port shippers.

Shortly thereafter, independent producers in the Douro valley began making truly world-class table wines including a group of five maverick winemakers that call themselves the  Douro Boys.

By: Carolyn Evans Hammond Life, Published on Sat Apr 16 2016