2012 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Rufo
For today's expedition beyond the mainstream then we're heading in a Portuguese direction. To the Douro Valley, in fact, which is the home of one of the world's most famous fortified wines - Port.
The challenge for the Douro, however, is that no-one drinks Port anymore, with the whole fortified category struggling. Yet the Douro Valley is flourishing, with local producers having now turned their focus from Port into table wines, swapping fortifieds for seriously delicious reds, whites and rosè.
This Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Rufo is a perfect case in point. It comes from Vale Dona Maria which is the property of Christian Zeller, the former owner of superstar Port house Quinta do Noval.
The Rufo is a perfect example of what the new generation Douro wines taste like. Made from a blend of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca grapes grown in the famous schist slopes above the Douro river, it's a beautiful mid-weight red. This stunning red has delicious red fruit, surprising acidity and fantastic natural acidity. It's like a wine party in your mouth, just without the burn.
Rufo was born during an after-dinner talk with some friends, while elaborating about how to better our agricultural practices to improve the environment and increase the Alectoris rufa’s population in Vale D. Maria (Alectoris rufa being the scientific name for the red-legged partridge). We agreed that the word Rufo, meaning red in Latin, would be a good name for a Douro red wine. But Rufo in Portuguese also means the sound of a drum, so when designing the new label, the drum quickly became the choice for the symbol of the new Rufo do Vale D. Maria, our entry level wine, and the one that announces and sets the beginning, the rhythm for our range of Vale D. Maria wines.
With a medium concentration of sugars and good acidity levels, Rufo do Vale D. Maria is an elegant and very fresh wine, with strong aromatic and fruity flavours and a very good freshness in its finish. Great balance and acidity, intense and velvety, with finesse and elegance.