Quinta do Crasto
Even during the very hottest of Irish summers, it would be difficult to confuse Glendalough, or any other Irish landscape, with the Douro Valley in Northern Portugal.
It’s the heat sets the place apart.
The steep sides of the valley are carved from flaky schist that traps the heat of the sun, concentrating the blistering heat of the Portuguese summers. What’s more, the lazy progress of the Douro river provides little relief from the heat. The minimal ventilation, dead heat and dizzyingly steep slopes make it an unlikely place to grow vines.
Despite the inhospitable terrain, Miguel and Tomas Roquette still manage to create some outstanding wines at their vineyard Quinta do Crasto. Their vines enjoy a south-facing aspect, high up on the slopes of the north shore of the Douro. Just across the river, other vineyards produce wines that are too tannic and austere due to poorer sunlight. The Roquette brother’s wines, in contrast, are deep, fruity and intense.
We might not ever get the heat the Douro Valley does, but the flavours of Douro wines are worth tasting – even on a rainy afternoon in Ireland. And this pair from Quinta do Crasto is a great place to start.
Crasto Douro White
Crasto Douro White is made from a mix of local grapes rarely seen outside of the Douro region: Gouveio, Cercial, and Roupeiro. Perhaps it’s because these varieties are so well adapted to local conditions that they produce such a complex yet coherent wine. Wine critics and journalists call Crasto Douro White “Portugal’s answer to Chablis”, with lemon, pear, and floral flavours joining herbal notes. And the schist of the Douro Valley is, no doubt, responsible for this wine’s intriguing minerality.
The Portuguese would pair this with some garlicky grilled sardines. But seeing as it’s July and the mackerel are running, why not try Crasto Douro White with a more local fish – get some fresh mackerel and marinade them in lemon and garlic before barbequing them whole.
Crasto Douro DOC
Like its white companion, the red Crasto Douro DOC is a product of grape varieties particular to the Douro. Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, and Touriga Franca combine to give a rich and deep colour to the wine. Ripe black fruits join a hint of spice and subdued tannins to make Crasto Douro DOC approachable and satisfying.
For a typical Portuguese pairing try grilled beef with chilli and spices. Alternatively, for an Irish accompaniment, serve it with a hard, mature cheese like Coolea or Coolattin Cheddar.
Miguel and Tomás Roquette at Quinta do Crasto are the only Portuguese winemakers with us at Wines Direct. And that’s not a negative reflection on the Portuguese industry in general; the country produces a lot of great quality wines and port. It’s just that we haven’t come across another Portuguese winemaker producing amazing, regionally unique wines to the same standard as Quinta do Crasto. They’re simply the best we could find.
If you want to try the best of what the Douro Valley has to offer, Quinta do Crasto’s Crasto Douro DOC and Crasto Douro White will be open for tasting in our stores in Mullingar and Arnotts from Monday the 10th of July. As they say in Portugal, Saúde!