They’re the patriarchs of five winemaking families, and the Douro Boys are on a mission to breathe new life into the wines of their world-class region.
Who Are the Douro Boys?
Each of the Douro Boys has deep roots in Portugal’s Douro Valley, the world’s first officially UNESCO-designated wine region. Technically, they’re competitors in the Douro wine business. But their wine estates—Quinta do Vallado, Niepoort, Quinta do Crasto, Quinta Vale D. Maria, and Quinta Vale Meão—toss aside any sense of competition when the personalities behind them unite as the Douro Boys.
Together, they’re putting the wine-drinking world on notice about the excellent unfortified, dry wines of Portugal and the Douro Valley in particular. Each quinta (the Portuguese term for wine estate) contributes wine independently, but as a collaborative group of friends, the Boys have been working together since 2003 on tastings, seminars, publicity, and communication to further awareness of Portuguese wine.
As for their wine, it’s said to be some of the best and full of as much character as the Boys themselves. Their energy is magnetic, infusing fun into the business of making, selling, and drinking wine. The goal of the group is to give the dry wines of the Douro “a level of recognition appropriate to their inherent quality, and to position themselves on an equal footing with Port.” Not that there’s anything wrong with Port: the Douro Boys’ quintas produce this wine that seems to have reserved the name of the country for itself, but they also yield some lesser-known dry red and white varietals.
Meet the Boys
Ask around the Valley (or the world): people know these Boys. They’re talented, connected, and charismatic. The area has been gaining traction as a hot destination for wine travel, and with the Douro Valley’s growth comes the greater reach of the Boys’ wines. Sommeliers recommend them in top restaurants. They’re kind of a big deal.
|Dirk van der Niepoort, Niepoort|
A “wine fanatic like very few in the entire world” and the great-great-grandson of a Dutch settler who arrived in Portugal in 1842 to claim his piece of the Port trade.
|Tomás and Miguel Roquette, Quinta do Crasto|
Working with their parents, these brothers are known for their joie de vivre and their sought-after Douro wines with fans as far as North America and Japan.
|Francisco Ferreira and João Alvares Ribeiro, Quinta do Vallado|
Cousins and descendants of Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, who built an empire in the 19th century that inspired Francisco and João to call their cult wine Adelaide.
|Cristiano van Zeller, Quinta Vale D. Maria|
Hailing from an ancestry of wine merchants dating back to 1780, van Zeller and his wife Joana have cultivated a highly desirable brand that has stayed in the family for centuries. Meet Cristiano on DuVine’s Oporto + The Douro Valley Bike Tour!
|Francisco Olazabal, Quinta Vale Meão|
The Olazabal family’s estate shares a link to another Douro Boys winery—it was the last great project of the very same Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira of Quinta do Vallado. Today, Francisco (Vito) Olazabal and his children are the proprietors.
Grab a Glass of Portuguese Douro Dry Wine
Starting at $10, Douro dry wines are an excellent value. Even a bottle worth aging won’t run above $50, and can be cellared for a decade or more. Don’t be shy about Portuguese wines that look unfamiliar at first—the fun is all in trying them, and you might be surprised to see a few recognizable grapes in these suggested bottles.
- Quinta do Crasto‘s Crasto Red is the perfect introduction into the dry red wines of the Douro Boys. It’s a blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, and Touriga Franca—all Portuguese grapes that range from robust to fruity. If you like Spanish Tempranillo, you’ll appreciate the liveliness of the Tinta Roriz: it’s the very same grape with a special Douro Valley name.
- To taste the Duoro’s finest and most-recognized grape variety, Touriga Nacional, get a bottle of Quinta do Vale Meão’s Meandro Red. This quintessential bottle is a rich blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão, and Sousâo. The wine is complex in structure, with notes of dark berry and herbal flavors.
- On the other end of the spectrum from Port is Quinta do Vallado’s Douro White, a mix of Rabigato, Códega, Viosinho, Gouveio, and Arinto. With plenty of minerality and freshness, sip this steely, citrusy, and high-acid wine on a hot summer day.
Douro Valley wines are as versatile and food-friendly as any in the world, becoming more and more visible on shelves and wine lists in countless countries. With the Douro Boys acting as their smiling ambassadors over the last 15 years, these beautiful wines are finally enjoying the recognition they deserve!
To meet members of the Douro Boys and drink in this world-renowned wine region, join a Portugal bicycle tour with DuVine on an Oporto + The Douro Valley Bike Tour.
Photos courtesy Douro Boys and Six Senses Douro Valley