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A game-changing red from the Douro Valley

2017 Quinta Da Pedra Alta, Pedra A Pedra Tinto, Douro, Portugal

£15, or £81 for six bottles with free delivery, winebuyers.com

Matt Gant, the extraordinarily talented winemaker behind the First Drop wines from the Barossa Valley in South Australia, has weaved some magic with the wild, swarthy red grapes found in the Douro Valley in Portugal. He knew exactly how to give the grapes a polish and produce a wine gleaming and velvety smooth on the palate. Matt’s desire to avoid over-extraction, which often results in coarse, harsh flavours, and which is so much a signature of old-fashioned Douro reds, makes this wine a game-changer.

Pedra A Pedra is, thankfully, not another in a long line of international, sweet-fruited, “vinonymous” reds. This sleek wine employs a variety of techniques depending on the fermentation vessel used. Foot treading is followed by gentle plunging in granite lagar fermenters, while open-topped stainless-steel tanks and picking bin ferments are simply plunged. Old French barriques and hogsheads bring subtle seasoning to the whole, and the wine is designed to sing of its unique ingredients – 50% touriga franca, 44% touriga nacional, 5% tinta barroca and 1% fernão pires.

In short, Matt and his local counterpart, João Pires, have captured the essence of the Douro and given it a welcome makeover. At 13.5% alcohol and with stunning spice and luxurious fruit, this wine is unmissable and gives us a glimpse into the Douro’s future. It is keenly priced, too.

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