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The Tale of the River Duero-Douro

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The river Duero (in Spain) and Douro (in Portugal) has a long rich history, from its birthplace in the heartland of Spain passing through the famous Ribera del Duero, then entering into the west to the Douro Valley in Portugal, crossing the northern side of Portugal ending up in the Atlantic coast splitting the historic city of Porto.

A river full of tales, commerce, history and of course flooded with centuries of wine history. The river Duero was born millions of years ago, just south of the famous D.O.C. Rioja, this river has shape the wine landscape and livelihoods of many communities in the Spanish region of Castilla y Leon. Passing through a few noticeable wine regions such as Rueda D.O., Toro, D.O. and of course the main region of Ribera del Duero, where the variety of Tempranillo “Tinta fina” is king. A regulated region with strict aging laws produces some of the most age worthy wines in the Iberian Peninsula.

In Portugal, the river enters through hillsides and mountains shaping the famous valley of Douro. Mostly known for grapes dedicated to fortified wine, Porto production. However, there’s been a shift most recently on the production of still, terroir driven wines: from mineral driven whites, rosés and reds. Most of the wines of this region are historically field blends using native grapes such as Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Vousinho and Gouveio to name a few. Over 30 different varieties can end up in a bottle of wine.

The tale of the Duero river its full of history from both sides of its trajectory. It has shape the wine and food culture and traditions in Spain and Portugal. On the Spanish side the river passes through a high-altitude plateau with vines planted on valleys and slopes on the northern and southern side of the river. The Ribera del Duero is home to iconic wine producers such as Vega Sicilia, Protos, Pago de Capellanes and many others that we showcase in the shop. This region has a more classic-traditional approach to winemaking. In contrast, on the other side of the western side of river, diversity and creativity drives the wines made Douro valley.

In Douro valley the landscape is majestic, a photogenic wine region that everywhere you turn and twist the river has a predominante presence. Most of the vineyards are planted on steep hillsides, and slopes, all hand harvested where precision and patience are important to produce quality juice. Historically many grapes are dedicated to Porto production but now the new generation of winemakers such as the Maçanita siblings, Wine and Soul, Niepoort are producing elegant still wines that we love to drink.

After passing these two main wine regions, the Douro river ends up in the city of Porto meeting the Atlantic Ocean. A majestic journey that was been a mayor factor for both countries development, commerce between them and the world, and continues to support the livelihoods of many communities. The river is life, but its also the main reason we enjoyed the wines from these two famous regions.

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Wine Club: Indigenous Grapes from Campania!

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Wine Club time again! An ongoing theme of Wine Club is travel. We love picking places that produce great wine that would also be a blast to visit. This month’s selection certainly fits that bill!

Campania is a gorgeous region of southern Italy on the Mediterranean coast. The famous Amalfi coast beaches lay within it, as do hundreds of vineyards and wine producers. If you’re interested in learning more about this amazing region, check out this post we wrote about it.

For the wines this month, we chose a crisp, lively white with tropical fruit tones, and a rustic red made from an ancient indigenous grape. Campania wines tend to really show a sense of place, so we picked two terroir driven bottles.

For the white, we chose a wonderful example of the grape Falanghina. The warm days and cool nights of the region leave the wine with pronounced flavors and balancing acidity. The producer, La Capranera, takes its name from a type of goat that lives in the hills of the area. Once almost extinct, they are thriving now, much like Campania wines themselves!

For the red, we went with a 100% Casavecchia. This grape likely would have gone extinct were it not for a recent revived interest in indigenous grapes. The name Casavecchia literally means “old house.” Legend has it that it gets this name because someone found a lone vine of it growing in some Roman ruins, and that all the vines growing today are descended from that vine. King Ferdinand IV of the House of Bourbon in Naples apparently loved this grape. The painting of a dog on the label of this wine comes from a detail in a painting in his palace!

The grapes in this wine hail from the province of Caserta, at the foothills of Friento Mount. They grow at an altitude of 200 meters in clay and carbonic soils, and are hand picked in the first and second week of October. The wine itself has flavors and aromas of dried red cherries, plums, herbs and wild spices, with hints of licorice and black tea. Let breathe to allow the tannins to soften up. Serve with char-grilled pork chops and veggies.

The release party will take this Sunday, July 28th, starting at 2pm. See you then!

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Campania, an Italian Gem!

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Campania, located on the front of the “ankle” of Italy’s boot, boasts some of the most remarkable historic, ancient and modern attractions in all of Italy. From Naples to Pompeii, the Amalfi coast and some of the most fertile lands in Italy, you should definitely not skip it when you plan to visit Italy.

Campania has a long history. The Greeks, then the Etruscans, both settled the area. The first major city of the area, Capua, formed in the 5th century BC. Although the name Campania seems to come from the word “Campus,” Latin for field, it actually pre-dates the Romans. Perhaps they got the word for plain from the name? It remains to this day the best place to grow all sorts of Italian staples, from tomatoes to eggplants to, of course, grapes!

It became culturally Roman in the 4th century BC, eventually becoming first a colony, then an official region, of the empire. After the Romans, the Goths, Byzantines, and Lombards all conquered the region. In the 11th century, the Normans incorporated Campania into the kingdom of Sicily. It then became part of the Kingdom of Naples after the Wars of Sicilian Vespers against the French in 1282. It took until 1860 for it to be united with what we now think of as modern day Italy.

Today, the region thrives on agriculture, tourism, fishing, and modern industry. In fact, it is Italy’s southernmost area with an industrial center, mostly around Naples. Artisans throughout the region craft coral, pearls, tortoiseshell, leather, and lace into gorgeous works of art that make unforgettable souvenirs. And of course, Naples makes the world’s most famous pizzas!

Though the Amalfi coast is perhaps the most recognizable, and visited, attraction Campania has many other fantastic sites dot the land. Pompeii, of course, is a must see, as are other areas also buried by the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius (still an active volcano!). Non-roman architecture and still active towns offer nearly limitless sights and adventures all on their own! And that’s not even mentioning Campania’s amazing wines, revered throughout Italy.

To celebrate this gorgeous, historic, and welcoming place, we’ve highlighted two amazing wines in our Wine Club! When you make it to Campania, let us know, and we can help you set up some winery visits!

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