The Wine Spectator magazine's distinguished three wines from the Douro region in the Top 4 of the top 100 wines of the year. Paul Symington, producer of two of the award-winning wines, the Dow's 2011 (1st place) and the Crysseia 2011 (3rd place), sustains that "are many superlatives that you can apply to the Douro. Many of us argue it's the most beautiful wine-growing area in the world.” Although the region is mainly known through the port, table wines are exciting the world of wine. The wine Quinta do Vale do Meão of the 2011 harvest is also a pride for the Douro region, which achieved the 4th place of the Top 100 wines to the magazine Wine Spectator. The three award-winning wines are from the same harvest, the year 2011. This was an exceptional year for the vineyards that rise on terraced hillsides from the banks of Douro, one of the world's oldest demarcated wine regions. The international reputation of their table wines begins in the 1990s, with the dependence on port wines and the projection of white and red quality wines. The refrigeration techniques have been improved and the scrapping of arcane laws designed to protect traditional port producers triggered the change says Mario Medeiros who renewed its family business in 2004. The journalist and producer of Medeiros family red wines says that Douro region "is a mountainous wine region which has micro-climates and micro-micro-climates. In the same vineyard you can have two slopes with completely different characteristics. "The proximity to the river also affects the range of wines in soils. “Then there is the unique wine tradition," he adds. “to the richness of the wines that are made there. It's a complex region, complex like the wine that it produces." The success of the region in the development of table wines is also partly explained by the emergence of a new generation of winemakers or wine experts from the University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro. "They started with the introduction of new techniques and new ideas and we all began to realize we could take the same grape varieties that we were using to make these great and historical ports and make some really interesting red wines," says Symington. "The Douro has everything," said Cunha. "It has history, it has great soil, it's got unique grape varieties, it's got a fantastic climate. It all means we can produce very distinct wines of great quality." "It takes time for a wine region to really affirm itself,” he added, “so it's amazing the international recognition the Douro is getting when you consider that the transformation of the region into a producer of red and white table wines only got underway in the 1990s." UNESCO declared the region a World Heritage site in 2001. The Wine Tourism is gathering pace with the opening of wine hotels. Many port wine lodges carry the names of the old families, including Taylor, Graham and Cockburn, who dominated the export of sweet, fortified wines in Britain. The Douro winemakers are convinced that the current wave of international interest is just the beginning. "This will continue," says Cunha. “This international recognition is giving our producers more strength to keep producing these great wines."