Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Report from ... Day 2 in Portugal: Oporto and Dao - February 13, 2012

Day 2 in Portugal sees us going to places like the Taylor Cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, Lunch at the Comercial at the Palacio da Bolsa ... all in Oporto, then moving the whole kit and caboodle down to the Dao region to visit with Alvaro de Castro and Paco dos Cunhas de Santar to taste wine, before having dinner and stay in a freak "Grande Hotel" ... red-rum red-rum ... you'll see what I mean in this pictorial look at Day 2 in Portugal.

Day 2 starts with a pretty good breakfast spread at the Hotel Teatro - Yup that is Portuguese sparkling to the right in the Tattinger bucket.
Add to that cereals, jams, cakes and breads and you could really fill up if you wanted to: I had some muesli, yogurt, croissant and a splash of bubbly - how could you resist.
I say goodbye to my glassed in shower, with no door ...
And smoked-glassed in toilet and head to the bus to take us to Taylor's ... by the end of the day I promise you I will be missing this open-see-through concept bathroom.
Views from the other side ... in Vila Nova de Gaia looking back from whence we came: Oporto
The Eiffel Bridge from afar - notice Offley Porto house in foreground
Graham's and Cockburn's to our left - Cockburn in the foreground, Graham's in the distance
Arriving at Taylor's
Behind us the new Yeatman hotel - more on that later
A look at their Yeatman Hotel from the verandah of Taylor's welcome/visitor's centre.
Taylor:  A look at the massive barrels ...
And the rows and rows of cigar barrels (called "pipes") in the warehouse
Our Public Relations guide, Ana, explains the history of Taylor's to our Swedish, Danish and Canadian contingent - there are 8 of us in total
Then it was off to the tasting room, where I learned that only midgets drink Port - the table were thigh high and the chairs came up to my knees.
Here we tried a variety of Ports including this Chip Dry White, which was the first Chip Dry to be produced in 1934
And the Late Bottled Vintage 2005, another first for Taylor's in 1970 (released 1975) ... this is a lovely drink now style of Port with lots of chocolate and cherry notes and a wonderful spiciness (****+)
Around the tasting room were some interesting things - like this display case showing off years worth of styles ort bottles have come in fromTaylor's ... (now focus on the middle of the cabinet)
It's a bottle of 'Scion': a 1855 pre-phylloxera tawny that the folks at Taylor's found about 2 years ago at one of their growers vineyards in the Douro Valley (2 barrels worth) ... bottle sells for $3500 Canadian.  We did not get a chance to taste it ... dang!
Gratuitous animal shot #1 - as I did in Italy I took a variety of animal pictures as they were spotted.  These are pheasants looking to gain entrance into the Taylor tasting room.
Lunch was at the Palacio de Bolsa restaurant, which in truth was not that exciting - but this is the place where the Essencia do Vinho event is taking place ... so I poked my head in the room to see it empty before the mob hits it on Thursday.
Gratuitous animal shot #2:  We arrive at Alvaro de Castro in the Dao in the late afternoon and were greeted by these two gentlemen.
Gratuitous animal shot #3:  Although a little stand-offish at first (see above) this guy was ready to meet and greet from the moment we got near him.
He took us on a tour of the wineries tank and barrel rooms before leading us out into the vineyard where the real show began.
7 of us piled into this little jeep
Which looked something like this ...
But more like this.
Our doggy friend turned it over to Luis Lopes to show us the ...
50-60+ year old vines ...
the limestone and granite soils ...
and the amazing rock formations ... (which could be used for making great kitchen counters)
Before heading back for a tasting of their wines.
These three were the stars of the tasting: Primus is an old vines field blend double fermented in both stainless steel and wood, exotic and buttery (****+).  Carroucel is made from old clone Touriga Nacional and sits in barrels for two years (****). 
But the real winner is the Quinta de Pallada 2007 Old Vines from the 60+ year old vineyard and close to 60 grapes make their way into the blend, they also make only 6000 bottles, making it the devil's blend ... this wine has finesse and elegance to spare (**** 1/2)
Gratuitous Animal Shot #4: Time to leave the Quinta, and our two new friends were sad to see us go.
Our final winery stop of the day was a tasting Paco dos Cunhas de Santar, part of the Global Wine Group.
Where Chief Winemaker Osvaldo Amado lead us through a tasting of 2 whites, a rose, and 4 reds
The best of which was this 2010 Roaz Reserva from the Lisboa area ... this is a fruit forward, chocolate backed wine with lovely minerality; the nose was odd but the palate overwhelmed with deliciousness (****)
Time for dinner ... just down the road from the Paco dos Cunhas - and owned by the producer
Board Member, Paulo Amorim, joined us for dinner and treated us to some of the more interesting wines of the evening
Including this double shot of bubbles from their property in Dao and another in Brazil, where they own some 2000 hectares (compared with 4000 in Portugal)
Dinner itself was a mess of pork, potatoes and something green made with corn meal ... that was the least enjoyable part of the plate.
Most interesting bottle of the night: Dvo-Rat, a multi-region wine 50% Grenache from Priorat, Spain and 50% Touriga Nacional from the Douro ... this was a pretty impressive wine, even at 300 euros a bottle.
We then checked in at the Hotel das Caldas de Felgueira ... "Grande Hotel" with tiny bedrooms ...
even smaller bathrooms (I had to step out of the shower to change my mind) ...
And creepy hallways ... red-rum - red-rum ... but I lived through the night to tell the tale.
Tomorrow I'll show you the hotel in the daylight, plus we head off to the Douro region for some tasting at Duorum, Quinta dos Malvedos and to spend an evening with the Douro Boys ...

No comments: