Sunday, July 28, 2013

Porto, Portugal

 I welcome the cooler temperatures of Porto. When I left Zurich yesterday afternoon it was 37*C!
Today I navigated my way by bus to the heart of Vila Nova de Gaia and went for an hour + walking tour of the city centre and then making my way to Graham's Port Lodge. This special visit was coordinated by the manager for Graham's at Mark Anthony Brands (my former employer).
I have never visited Portugal before and it was a thrill to see the Douro River for the first time. I have been studying it in my Sommelier courses appreciating the dramatic, elevated terrain of the vineyards.
Porto is home to many Port wine houses, or Lodges, where they age the wine and is located at the mouth of the Douro River. All the vineyards are located well inland and too far away for me to visit on this trip. The very best are protected by mountains and therefore are dry, have granite sub soils with layers of schist. In general, port is a blended wine of different red grapes, unless it is a white port made from blended white grapes. Today I discovered a new cocktail, white port and tonic....with a slice of lemon and basil leaf. Yum! After the grapes have been hand harvested they are either crushed by foot (only 20%) in traditional lagares or in automatic lagares which acts like a foot treading. They do this to give maximum colour extraction from the skins. The juice is fermented to a low alcohol then fortified with a grape brandy spirit of 77% abv. Now it is in the winemasters hands as to how he will age it.
There are many different types of port; youthful ruby port, aged tawny ports, Late Bottled Vintage, Vintage, Single Quinta Vintage, I was honored to try a Vintage port from 1952. This bottle was sent to the Queen recently in honour of her Coronation year, 1952.

Traditional shipping vessel -barcos rabelos

Had to post this, just because:) Nice Portuguese bird eh

Shipping houses on the south side of river

Graham´s Port Lodge Entrance
Only 3 barrels or 'pipes' left of this vintage

The four main grapes of port

map of the douro river through Portugal and Spain

Large vats for Tawny Ports

The before.....

And after.....thanks to my guide Filipe

Sample of schist rocks

The north side of the Douro

The South side of the Douoro, Vila Nova de Gaia

Wish there was enough room in my luggage....

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