Are These Hills Getting Steeper?September 30, 2015 in Portugal
The city of Porto is divided by the Douro river with the Ribeira and City Center districts on the north bank and the Port houses in Vila Nova de Gaia on the south.
On Monday we walked down to the waterfront and over the Luis 1 bridge to do our pilgrimage to the Port houses.Unlike most tourists, after crossing the bridge, we took the high road on the south bank, which brought us to the wineries located at the top of the hill. As a result we had only to roll down the slopes as we went from tasting to tasting.
The first signpost we saw was for "Yeatman", a port neither of us had ever heard of before. It was an ultra-modern looking facility with two huge clay amphorae decorating the lawn at the entrance. It was only when we went through the front door did we wake up to the fact that we were standing in the lobby of a five star hotel, not a winery. D'oh! Not wanting to look too foolish, we walked in like we owned the place, admired the view from the balcony overlooking the river and the north shore and then sauntered off appearing unimpressed. I'm not sure they bought our act.
Just a few meters down the hill from The Yeatman was Taylor's, which we knew for sure to be one of our desired destinations. We decided against doing their tour and tasting since their products are readily available at home. Onward down the hill we went and arrived at Offley who had a tour and tasting starting in 15 minutes. Our guide was a young Portuguese woman who spoke perfect English and French, and probably a couple of other languages. She gave a good informative description of the port making process, from vineyard to barrel, as well as an explanation of the differences between the various types of Port.
The tasting at Offley consisted of an off dry white Port, a Tawny and a Ruby. The pours were generous and, with a 20% alcohol content, our already good moods improved considerably. To make matters worse, we then tried a fourth glass of Cachuca, an aged white Port that is only available at the winery or, of all places, at the SAQ in Quebec! It was quite delicious and I may pick up a bottle when we get home.
We then set off to find a house whose products we hadn't tried before and stumbled on to Ramos & Pinto who had a very interesting selection of Port to taste. We decided to splurge on the €15.00 tasting that had an LBV, a 2007 Vintage, a 10 year old Tawny, a 20 year old Tawny and a 30 year old Tawny! They were successively more and more delicious and the 30 year old was liquid gold.
Holding onto walls, railings and each other for support, we slowly descended the ever steepening hill to the south bank waterfront and headed back towards the bridge that would lead us back to our apartment.
After a brief Port induced nap, we went out for dinner at a place that specialized in a local sandwich called a Franceschina. Mine had various vegan "meats" piled between two slices of bread and topped with a slice of melted cheese and a curry sauce. Just what the doctor ordered. Brenda was more reasonable and had a Seitan steak and salad.
We may go back to the south bank for more tastings before we leave, but, if we do, we'll definitely pace ourselves a little better next time.Read more