Dona Berta Tinto Cão 2011

A Douro red that ticks all the boxes

Just last week I wrote here of a Douro wine costing around €20 that I found to be considerably overpriced. It was a white, and if you missed the article, you did not miss anything worth buying. Now, I have not lost faith in the Douro by any means. It is, after all, Portugal’s most important wine-producing region and one that is now gaining at least some of the international recognition it deserves. I just feel that some producers are taking the piss (sorry Editor) by overpricing their wines whilst riding high on the praise that has been lavished on the region, and on Portugal as a whole, of late.

And so, also on the middle to upper shelves at Apolónia, I found this red from the small but highly-respected Douro producer Dona Berta, priced at just under €20. This one really did tick all my boxes.

First of all, it is a 2011 and pretty much anything with 2011 on the label from Douro is worth buying. But this is also the only varietal wine I have seen from the Tinto Cão grape, one of the most traditional varieties of the region, usually a small part of the field blend in reds and Ports.

But here they have singled out this one great Douro grape and made something very special, a wine that when younger would no doubt have had aggressive tannins, but now, at seven years old, it is supple and smooth, with an unusual depth of flavour.

It is full bodied but not too heavy, only 13.5% alcohol in fact. An extremely well-made wine, perfect to be paired with a lamb or beef stew. Be sure to decant or serve very carefully, as it is throwing a very fine sediment.

By Patrick Stuart
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