Wine, a gift from the gods since the days of old Greece and the drink of choice by the gladiators of imperial Rome, has a connection, sometimes osmotic, with the sports world.
Perfect examples of this partnership are the Douro and Vinho Verde regions, leading symbols of portugalidade (Portuguese national identity) of territories as exceptional as they are unique.
A wine region is an admirable and seductive scenery for any kind of sports competition and the excellent nectars produced there are a sign of quality, whose promotion can be conveyed through different types of sports.
A sublime example of this connection was, decades ago, Rali de Portugal/Vinho do Porto.
Several times considered “the best rally in the world”, it promoted in a sublime way, between 1975 and 1993, a wine and a region that generates passions and full of character such as the Alto Douro Wine Region, Intangible Cultural Heritage, an accolade granted by UNESCO to the vast territory of 250 thousand hectares.
The Carvalhas stage, outlined in one of the most emblematic quintas (estates/wineries) in the region, overlooking Pinhão, was the backdrop – 1977 and 1978 – of this world-class rally, with the best rally drivers in the world.
In 1980 and 1981 the stage Vinho do Porto consolidated the identity of the rally with one of the most breathtaking wine-growing regions, which has been a superb backdrop for the Douro Vinhateiro Half Marathon, which next edition – its 15th – is already scheduled for 20 May 2020.
A run that promotes health, well-being and territory, and takes place on an exquisite backdrop, demarcated by schistose gullies lined with gold and green or the autumnal shades of purple deciduous foliage, when the smell of must permeates the air.
A dazzling scenery for physical activity, magnified by the ‘walls of miracle’, as the incomparable Miguel Torga described the terraces that seem to touch the sky from the Douro River, which paints in two colours the label of flavours and wines of unparalleled quality, which already rest near the river mouth, in the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia.
Another incredible scenery to stimulate people to participate in the Porto Half Marathon, race on the vintage banks of a once angry and choleric river, now more docile, thanks to the dams that shaped its character without changing its grand size.
Running in the middle of UNESCO’s world heritage sites and linked by wine, invigorating sap from such distant regions, it is something sensory that infuses another encouragement to those who participate.
In these background events or in the very fun The Color Run by Vinho Verde, in Greater Porto, suitable for a younger audience.
Eco-friendlier and dedicated to the contemplation of biodiversity, the Trilhos do Vinho Verde walk – seven editions have already been carried out – on the outskirts of Amarante, covers over a dozen kilometres across the banks of the Ovelha River, where the grape variety Azal is queen.
Striking and diverse examples, based on the territory, wine and sports, beautifully interconnected, enhancing qualities and reaping benefits by adopting the appropriate tactic: moderation.
So that wine can become a celebration factor, as a broad element of conviviality, when celebrating a result, a feat or the mere participation in any kind of competition.
Whatever the age, to live up to the aphorism that defines Port wine: quality of a wine unparalleled as years go by:
“The older the better! Like Port Wine”.
Text by António Catarino, Journalist
Photo 1: Ove Andersson (Toyota) 1977 - Credits ACP
Photo 2: François Delecour (Ford Escort Cosworth) 1993 - Credits Photo GTI/Armindo Cerqueia
Photo 3: vinhoverde.pt (CVRVV)