Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Report from ... Day 4 in Portugal: a little more Douro - February 15, 2012

This is the last day of touring before heading back to Oporto for the Essencia do Vinho - we'll be toured around Quinta do Vallado, where we stayed last night; visit the Wine and Soul project, which is a small winery project that is being run by a husband and wife winemaking team (for other wineries) of Jorge and Sandra; and finally, a visit to Lavradores de Feitoria, a co-op in the Douro region.  We'll end the night in an ocean view sushi restaurant eating pork loin ... I found that strange too ... but it's all part of day 4 in Portugal, let's take a look:

Touring Quinta do Vallado: We start out in the orchard by the pool (to the left) - this is an orange tree with plenty of fruit
And so is this - on this tiny tree there were about half a dozen oranges
The tour takes us past the new inn on the Vallado property, we didn't stay here because the electricity had yet to be hooked up - had we been a day later, different story.  The entire hotel is made from slate, walls, stairs and floors.
Gratuitous Animal Shot #7:  A walk through the old winery kitchen found this "kitchen cat" under the table - he / she followed us through the rest of the tour.
And here is the outside of the new gravity flow winery ... because of the hilly nature of the Douro gravity flow is a natural outcome
Inside the new winery
The new lagars in the new winery ... and to prove the cat followed us ...
I present my next Gratuitous Animal Shot #8:  Cat in a lagar
The stairs to the depths of the winery: barrel room and beyond
The underground barrel room ... and then just because I wanted to ...
my barrel room artsy shot
Thus endth the tour of Quinta do Vallado.
And an hour later we started our tour of the Wine & Soul project, started by husband and wife winemaking team of Jorge and Sandra (pics to come of them both)
A look at some of their first 3 hectare vineyard which they bought in 2003
Scanning out over their neighbours vineyards - great scenery from the top of this hill
Looking down the vineyard into the valley and forest below to these "guys" burning something ...
 ... creating this billow of smoke across the valley.
The wines of the 'Soul project, "Pintas" (meaning spots) ... the best wine is the Quinta da Manoella 2009 VV (3rd from left) - a field blend from a 7 hectare plot of 30+ varieties from vines that are over 100 years old; aged 20 months in 80% new French oak.  Chocolate, red fruit and sweet plum on the nose with a lovely mouth feel, good minerality, spices, herbs and dark fruit palate ... interesting brambly finish that lingers (**** 1/2)
The winery is so small they keep the barrels in the lagars when not in use to foot trod the wines (all wines are made in this method)
The team of Wine & Soul: Jorge Serodio and Sandra Tavares-DeSilva ... Jorge on why Tawny is a more interesting wine than Vintage Port: "Vintage you taste the grapes; Tawny you taste the grapes, the wood, the oxidation - it's a mix of things and more complex."
Next stop Palacios Mateus, home to Lavradores de Feitoria ... it is the icon palace on the bottles of Matus worldwide, but it is not made by this company - the rights to the picture were sold years ago.
A map of the 18 properties under the Lavradores umbrella - a group of growers co-op started in 2001: they export 70% of their production to 23 countries.
The Best Wines ... The Meruge line of wines: The 2009 White from 100% Viosinho (grape) which is barel fermented and aged 6-7 months in Portuguese raw oak, a great Chardonnay alternaative with nice ageing potential  (****) and the 2008 Red (80% Tinta Roriz) with its delicacy of fresh fruit and berries and well integrated tannins (****+)
2008 Tres Bagos - Grande Escolha:  6 varieties go into the wine all 60+ years of age, made only in the best of years.  I's a barrel selection wine, most barrels even selected, 18.  Nice fruit and intense oak, a wine made for ageing (****)
"Twit of the Year" strikes again:  Christopher passes the Bagos on the left hand side
With our days of tasting and touring over it was back to Oporto for the main event: Essencia 2012 ... we met at Shis restaurante for the opening night dinner
The set-up was outdoors (in February) overlooking the ocean (at night) - heaters were set up to keep us all warm.
At a seaside sushi restaurant we ate: Bed of gratin Chevre with coulis of red pepper
loin of "porco preto"with hunt sausage and watercress puree ... with nary the sight of fish ... odd; the inside of the restaurant smelled great, if you can recall a fresh fish sushi bar.  It was a pity not to see any on our plates.
This dessert went a long way to make up for it though: apple strudel with vanilla ice cream
The wines of the evening were sponsored by the Dao region ... and this was the best of the night.
Well, that's it for Day 4 - tomorrow it's Essencia time, lots of wine and a group of International Professionals will get together in a room to decide the best wines of Portugal ... see you tomorrow in the room and on the floor of the tasting ... plus I'll show you a picture of the world's smallest bath-mat. All things to look forward to in the Day 5 pictures.

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