Olive Oil Rivers and Almonds in Port

Douro River, Portugal

The beautiful Douro River, Portugal.

On the days I toured the Douro Valley the weather was fine and the river often looked a rich green – like olive oil.

The Port I sampled was smooth with complex fruity flavors that evolved in my mouth and lingered to, on one occasion, a spectacular almond finish.

While the Duoro Valley receives its share of tourists, most go because they love Port. It is the region where Port was created. But with such natural beauty and new restaurants and small inns popping up, that is changing.

Port Like Champagne

Just as real Champagne is only from the Champagne region of France, real Port is only from the Douro Valley of Portugal. Port is a fortified wine that ranges from sweet to medium dry and comes in white, ruby and tawny. The latter is the one with nutty flavors thanks to its aging in wooden barrels and the consequential gradual oxidation. If the bottle does not indicate the age of the Port, it aged a minimum of two years in barrels. Tawnies are usually blends and sold as 10, 20, 30 or over 40 year old Port. The age given is actually the average age of the Port wines used to blend the tawny not the minimum age of wines in the blend.

Now let’s explore a couple of quintas – estates that make wine and Port.

Quinta da Pacheca, Douro Valley, Portugal

The Quinta da Pacheca makes red wine and port, has twenty unique rooms at the inn and a wonderful small restaurant.

Quinta da Pacheca and 30 Year Old Port

The Quinta da Pacheca, founded in 1903, makes red wine and port, has twenty unique rooms at the inn and a wonderful small restaurant. It’s open year-round at 90 Euros in high season and 75 in low season for single travelers. (The prices quoted on their site are higher.) To get there, you take the train to Regua and a taxi to the hotel for less than 5 Euros. To enjoy their cuisine is just as easy. The kitchen turns our wonderful food and, as would be expected, wine to match. While there, I bought a bottle of tawny Port that will turn 30 next year, as will my first born son. It will be a special birthday gift.

Portonic Quinta da Pacheca, Douro Valley, Portugal

Portonic is a refreshing drink of port and tonic water.

Quinta da Pacheca, Duoro Valley, Portugal

And a place to relax to drink your Portonic.

The barrel room is as beautiful as other parts of the estate.

And off again , further down the river, to another Quinta. (This picture is busy because you’re seeing everything twice due to the reflection.)

Winding our way to the top to a Sandeman’s Quinta – it’s way up their on the right.

Sandeman’s at the top of the hill.

George Sandeman founded the Sandeman’s in 1790 in London and there is still a 7th generation Sandeman working with the organization today. Their Douro Quinta do Seixo sits on top of a mountain which we snaked our way up. From the vantage point at the top I could see kilometers of hillside all covered in grapes.

The Sandeman’s quinta is a more modern facility than the Quinta da Pacheca which still crushes their grapes by foot. Here, the grapes are crushed by automated crushers that replicate the actions of feet but that can be controlled to manage the amount of pressure put on the grapes. The tour of this beautiful facility was led by an enthusiastic winemaker and culminated in the tasting of a white, ruby and tawny port. It was the latter that offered the most beautiful flavours I tasted while exploring Port and the Douro Valley.

The view from their.

The technology behind the Sandeman’s production was quite extraordinary. I had never seen automated presses to replicate human crushing before.

Thousands of bottles aging.

We tasted three of their ports, a white, a ruby and a tawny. The last was the magic bottle with the lingering almond flavors. It was twenty years old.

Yes, I enjoyed it.

How could one not enjoy a river valley with such personality.

The two day tour of the Douro Valley took place after the Travel Bloggers Unite conference in Porto, Portugal and thanks to their tourism board.

  • http://www.ecotrilha.pt Cris Fonte

    a tour with us and come to discover the Portuguese Wine: http://www.ecotrilha.pt/en/tours/portuguese-wine-tours

  • http://feedingyourself.weebly.com Barbara

    There used to be a cave in Lisbon that was dedicated to port drinking. The wine list was inches thick, going back 150 years. I wonder if it’s still there?

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    Yes, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a few options if you Google it.

  • Nisrine Hallak

    How can you reach Douro from Porto? any guided tours from there?