Douro Red Blend
Casa de Vila Nova
Douro Red Blend

The Douro valley of northern Portugal is one of the world's oldest wine regions and famous worldwide for its rich, sweet red dessert wine, known as port. The steep slopes of this river gorge, terraced for cultivating vines, are so spectacularly beautiful that the region is a popular destination for riverboat cruises and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Port wines are remarkable, delicious and wholly unique, but the precise traits that make them so special — their liqueur-like texture and sweetness — can work against them in a modern wine market that has a preference for lighter, drier red wines. So, in recent years, a number of the Douro valley's vintners have begun setting aside some of the grapes that have historically gone into the port-making process and fermenting them differently to make a more standard dry red wine. The local Portuguese grapes, such as tinta roriz, touriga franca, and touriga nacional, may not be well-known, but they make bright, tangy red wines. Stylistically, they have more in common with leaner, drier European reds, such as Chianti or Bordeaux, than they do with riper, jammier "new world" wines. This particular example features flavors of fresh blackberries and pomegranate, and is ideally suited to lighter, summer-weight cuisine.

Vila Nova Red Blend, Douro, Portugal. $10.99 (regularly $12.99; sale price through Sunday). PLCB Item #1589.