The Wine Show, a taste of the Douro

The Wine Show, a taste of the Douro

11 January 2021


The Wine Show, a taste of the Douro

For wine lovers the release of The Wine Show Series 3 is an event as momentous as the return of The Crown for monarchy enthusiasts. In this series, filmed in Portugal, we sample the diverse terroir and tastes of its wine regions with recommendations from wine expert Joe Fatterini.

The Douro, and the great Quinta do Noval, one of the Douro’s finest wine estates, is base camp for the seven episodes in this series’ exploration of Portugal’s unusual and innovative wines. And where Fatterini meets Matthew Goode, James Purefoy and the so suave Dominic West to taste some very special bottles.

Like its presenters, The Wine Show is ageing well, surprising, elegant and fresh. Fatterini and wine communicator Amelia Singer take us on a trail of wine discovery that crosses mainland Portugal to the islands of Madeira and the Azores, where they find a rare Terrantez do Pico, a white made from grapes grown on volcanic soil with a tang of Atlantic salt.

Fatterini treads lightly on the grape, blending knowledge with wit. At the end of each episode our wine knowledge has expanded, but above all we’ve had fun. This approach to wine reflects today’s more informed and less formal consumers, as well as the timeless truth that wine generates stories, conversation and laughter. One of the best scenes in Series 3 occurs during the grape harvest, a hilarious moment with West and Fatterini foot treading in the stone lagares with Quinta do Noval’s teams.

The view from the tasting table beneath the giant cedar tree at Quinta do Noval is jaw dropping. Terraced vineyards cascade down the Pinhão Valley towards the River Douro. These old vines, often planted as field blends, are some of the most prized plots in the Douro. Fatterini opens a Noval gem, a 2017 Vintage Port from the legendary Nacional vineyard of ancient vines resistant to the Phylloxera bug; only two hundred cases of this superb Port are made in the years when it is declared a vintage... and you are unlikely to find it in your local wine shop! Our group of tasters moan with pleasure.

The city of Porto is both gateway to the Douro wine region and equally the point from where wines, and in particular Port, were traditionally shipped to overseas markets such as England, Holland and Germany. In Episode 1 we visit Palacio de Bolsa, the neo-Moorish Porto stock exchange, symbol of the central position occupied by wine in Portugal’s economy through the centuries. It is a short walk from the British Factory House, historic meeting place of the Port trade, complete with ballroom and an exceptional collection of vintage Ports that we return to in a later episode.

Series 1 and 2 introduced the great wine producing countries France and Italy. This series focus on Portugal reflects the critical attention Portugal is receiving from international wine writers, sommeliers and buyers. Portugal boasts over two hundred different grape varieties, many not found anywhere else in the world, and its fourteen unique wine regions are attracting adventurous drinkers.

The series includes a sampling of next generation Douro winemakers and a visit to the romantic Quinta de la Rosa, in the Cima Corgo. Here talented winemaker Jorge Moreira makes beautifully structured dry wines and Ports. The estate has equally become a model for wine tourism in the Douro, with a boutique hotel, informed visits and tastings, Cozinha da Clara, one of the best restaurants in the area, and the latest venture, a craft beer.

Episode 1 promises that the six episodes rolled out over the next few weeks are a ‘must watch’ to understand why everyone is talking about Portuguese wines.

View on Amazon Prime or ITV4,                 

The author, James Mayor, is the founder of Grape Discoveries, a boutique wine tourism business: