Yet another Porto travel thread

Post your experiences of travel, especially for the Douro region. Make recommendations for places to stay and visit or ask advice from those that have already been there.
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JacobH
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Yet another Porto travel thread

Post by JacobH » 11:34 Tue 08 Sep 2020

After the endless to-ing and fro-ing about air corridors to Portugal, we have decided it is probably safe enough to try a little trip to Porto next week. The plan is slightly different from normal: a weekend break in the Yeatman, followed by renting an apartment in Bolhão to take advantage of the working-from-home possibilities that the pandemic has opened up to us. Probably no trip up the Douro valley this time: having suffered some dodgy internet connections in the past, I think it’s just a bit safer to be in Porto.

Not quite sure, yet, what we will visit this time. The temptation is to repeat all the things we have done before, which isn’t always desirable.

Some thoughts / questions:

Has anyone been to the new TFP World of Wine? It all looks very interesting but it seems quite aggressively priced (i.e. €50 to get into each exhibit) and I am wondering if it might be worth the money. It’s quite hard to get a new museum off the ground from scratch, let along 5 of them and information is really patchy (unsurprising since they have just opened in the middle of COVID-19).

I presume the best place for trying unusual Ports is still Portologia (née Vinologia) or are there any alternatives?

Might I ask the “what lodge should I visit?” question again? I would express a very strong preference for anywhere that can offer an in-depth tour and / or which let you choose a more interesting selection of Ports to try than the inevitable ruby, tawny, white, 10yo, LBV mix. Would clearly be happy to pay a premium for this! It’s all a bit vague looking on the different websites.

Thanks!
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JacobH
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Re: Yet another Porto travel thread

Post by JacobH » 12:54 Sat 26 Sep 2020

This was a rather strange trip for various reasons--some obvious--and I’ve only just got round to writing it up. I am very glad we made it, though.

Some thoughts:

The World of Wine is a big complex immediately below the Yeatman. It doesn’t quite stretch all the way to the river; you can get in from near the Quevedo or Dourum bars in the North. They have obviously spent a colossal amount of money on it: it looks to me like it is mostly new buildings in the style of Port warehouses. Inside, there are a few shops, mostly a combination of souvenirs shops and some designer Portuguese places like Claus Porto (the soapmaker) and the five museums over a number of different levels. We only went into one museum which was a bit as I expected: very polished but with very few exhibits. I would have quite liked to look at “The Bridge Collection” which is, I presume, Adrian Bridge’s collection of glassware, too, but it seemed to me that that was not worth more than about €5 rather than the €14 they were charging.

The best part of the WoW, though, is that they have built a new plaza with lovely views overlooking the river around which are a selection of restaurants, cafés and bars. We ate in a vegetarian place which was really excellent and I am sure for non-vegetarians the seafood and “normal” restaurants will also be attractive. It’s good to have another selection of places available beyond the Barão Fladgate at Taylor’s Lodge (where we also had dinner and which remains as enjoyable as ever). I guess the aim it to drag VnG into being an up-market destination. It will be interesting to see what happens!

Portologia has moved again and is now some distance away from the river, near the town hall on Rue de São João. It seemed a bit diminished compared to the two previous locations: none of the bottles available by the glass were on display and the menu simply offers things like “3 Vintage Ports” without specifying what they are. They also had quite a lot of Ports from places like Dalva and Messias which I don’t remember being their thing previously. Nevertheless, we had a nice tasting of unusual vintage ports and colheitas. Perhaps its time has passed somewhat?

In terms of lodges, we didn’t have much time for various reasons to visit many but went into Quevedo, Ramos Pinto and Cockburn. I last visited Cockburn in 2009 and it is incredible how much it has changed: they are now set up to receive hundreds of tourists a day! I notice that most places now let you just do a tasting and can buy by the glass which is a definite improvement: one of the reasons for going into Ramos Pinto was to try some of their vintage ports which were new to me: the 1982 and 1997.

I am also pleased to see the number of places offering a vegetarian franceshina is steadily increasing, even if there is not, yet, a consensus as to what it should contain!
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AHB
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Re: Yet another Porto travel thread

Post by AHB » 11:37 Mon 05 Oct 2020

I have heard some disappointing things about the new Portologia and your experience has really just confirmed the stories.

It seems the new place to visit is LaDo, which is the overhauled AVEPOD tasting room / wine bar / shop at Rua da Fonte Taurina 86 - the end furthest from the Dom Luis bridge. It also has an entrance from the Cais da Estiva. Chatting to Maria, who is managing the project, they offer a range of independent producers (who are members of the AVEPOD association) wines and Ports in flights, such as a 10YO White flight covering Quinta da Santa Eufemia, Quinta das Lamelas and São Leonardo — or whichever producers you'd like to try!
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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JacobH
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Re: Yet another Porto travel thread

Post by JacobH » 13:27 Mon 05 Oct 2020

Thanks, I’ll certainly try that out when we next go. Although I got confused for a second since we went to a franceshina bar called Lado B and I was worried that they were the same place and I’d somehow missed out on the Port tasting, especially since they had a 6l bottle of what purported to be Dow 2011 on the counter!

The other place I wanted to try but ran out of time was the Wines of Portugal tasting room. Whilst it is run by a trade association, the one in Lisbon was quite good fun and I would hope the Porto one would have a good range of Ports / Douro wines available through one of those sampling machines.

It actually seems to me that there is a bit of a gap in the market for one of those in VnG (perhaps run by the IVDP), although I know that self-service from a machine is not really the Portuguese way!

PS. Isn’t it ridiculous that we are now so spoiled for choice that I aimed to avoid the Quinta da Santa Eufemia, Quinta das Lamelas and São Leonardo at Portologia on the basis that I wanted to try something even more obscure!
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