Video – in the Douro Valley at Quinta do Noval Nacional vineyard

I was in the Douro Valley not long ago visiting one of the historic port houses of Portugal, Quinta do Noval. The quinta was founded in 1715 and was bought by the French conglomerate AXA Millesimes in 1993, which is how Christian Seely came to be managing director of the Quinta. Christian was my host while I was visiting the Quinta and after a morning spent tramping around the very special “Nacional” vineyard, we had a chat about what makes that vineyard so special and a quick tasting of the already legendary 2003 Nacional Vintage Port. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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The Yeatman

Nov 22, 11 The Yeatman

Posted by in Hotels and Spas, Portugal

The very first thing you notice when you walk into the The Yeatman is not the statue of Bacchus that dominates the lobby but rather, it’s what Bacchus faces that takes your breath away. The view that stretches in front of you of the entire hillside of the city of Oporto is amazing any time of day or night. The Yeatman is perched on a hillside on the Gaia side of the river. Oporto is divided into two by the river, with the Gaia side being where all the port lodges are located, the grapes are grown in the Douro Valley but the wine is aged in the long buildings of Gaia. It’s also where one finds The Yeatman overlooking the red tiled roofs of the lodges. The Yeatman came about to fill the need for a luxury hotel in the city of Oporto. During my visit, I had a chance to chat with Adrian Bridges, CEO of the hotel, and he told me he wanted to create a luxury hotel that was worthy of the city of Oporto and the history of port. Adrian was involved in all aspects of the hotel, from the colour of the curtains to the mattress maker. Adrian and his wife personally slept on all 6 potential mattresses for the hotel before finally plumping for the eventual winner. Among the amenities are a luxury spa where you can while away the day amongst vine influenced decor. I loved the staircase which encircled the interior of a giant wooden vat. After my massage, I relaxed on an enclosed sundeck with of course, that panoramic view of Oporto. The hotel’s theme is wine and the Wine Director, Beatriz Machado, is all about wine experiences. She personally chose and tasted all of the wines on the wine list, sourcing what she feels are stellar examples of Portuguese wine making. Although Portugal is famous for it’s Port, the dry wines that are being produced are spectacular. The hotel hosts a wine dinner...

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Independent Winegrowers Assoc. – Portuguese whites

When I think of Portuguese wines, other then Vinho verde, white wine is not what springs to mind. I’m thinking big, robust, tannic, or sweet, thick and vintage. The Portuguese however are really working hard to change our perceptions and expectations of what kind of wine comes out of their vineyards. I attended a tasting at the Portuguese Embassy not long ago highlighting the top whites of Portugal. The wines were selected by Charles Metcalfe, Sarah Jane Evans MW and David Lopes Ramos, all authorities on Portuguese wine, sponsored by the Independent Winegrowers’ Association. There were 61 wines from 51 producers. It’s exciting to learn that there are so many new (to me) white wines coming from Portugal. The lions share of whites came from the Douro but there were also representatives from most of the other wine producing regions of Portugal, even one from the Azores. What I find most interesting is the sheer exoticness of varietals that are used. Grapes like Antao Vaz,Arinto, Terrantez, Roupeiro, Encruzado, Bical, Cercial, Gouveio, Viosinho, Rabigato, Malvasia fina, and my favourite, if only because of it’s name, Maria Gomes. All so alluring and romantic, even more so when said in Portuguese, to these ears that are more accustomed to French or even Italian varietal names. And overall, the quality was excellent. The wines ran the gamut from light and fruity to full bodied and elegant, with plenty of fruit character but still able to go harmoniously with a meal. Of course, there were wines I didn’t particularly care for, but in general all were well made and only the samples at the very low end of the price spectrum were disappointing but then again what can you expect for 2 euros? For some new and exciting white wines, Portugal is definitely worth seeking out. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Wines of Portugal Tasting – reds

Another cold, rainy day. Sometimes, I think, “wouldn’t it be nice to live somewhere warm and sunny, like Portugal?” Then I could enjoy their vinous offerings all the time. Last time I wrote about my fav whites from the Portugese wine tasting, now I’m doing the reds. Touriga Nacional, Baga, Jaen, Tinto Roriz (aka Tempranillo), Trincadeiro, Aragonez, Castalao and a smattering of international varieties were all there along with other lesser known Portuguese varieties. I did the reds after the whites, as you do, and even thought I was being a very conscientious spitter, my notes are not as comprehensive. Casa Santos Lima, producer of the aforementioned Quinta de Bons Ventos also did a soft and fruity red from the Alenquer DOC – Quinta das Setencostas, a blend primarily of Castelao, Camarate, Tinta Miuda and Preto Martinho. Luis Pato had some impressive Bagas on tasting. The baga has a bit more structure and tannin then Touriga Nacional. Luis’ Vinha Barrosa 200 ws clean and fresh, bright eyed and bushy tailed with lively underlying fruit. Ayeshe, my colleague who was tasting with me, loved it. The Vinhas Velhas 2005 was another big wine with lots of  morello cherry, black cherry and plenty of tannins to give it backbone.  I scribbled black forest gateau somewhere on my notes but maybe I was getting a bit caught up in the tasting. Baga gives wines that were built to last. These are not wines that will go gently into that good night. Herdade Paco do Conde from Alentejo DOC was another producer that I really liked. I think I was more bowled over by their slick brochures at first but the wines definitely passed the taste test. The Paco do Conde 2006 is a real winner. A blend of Aragones, Cab, Trincadeira and Alicante, I like meaty, savory wines and this one hit all the right notes. A bit of autumnal woodiness along with a big, smoky bacon nose hits you first and then onto the palate. More...

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