Vist to Douro and Porto - 27-31 March

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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Cruz Ruby
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Joined: 18:40 Wed 03 Apr 2013

Vist to Douro and Porto - 27-31 March

Post by seenitall » 16:01 Thu 04 Apr 2013

I've been a lurker on this forum in preparation for my trip, and gained much valuable information. So now let me reciprocate with a report of my own.

Driving up from the south, my wife and I arrived at Casa Cimeira in Valença do Douro on the evening of the 27th. This is a lovely guest house perched in a village high above the Douro (just above Quinta do Seixo). It is beautiful, welcoming and inexpensive (see its ratings and comments in TripAdvisor or Bookings -- they are all true). Had a wonderful home-cooked dinner prepared by the owner. The next morning our first visit was to Quinta do Panascal (owned by Fonseca-Guimaraens) -- only about 10 minutes away. They provide a 30-minute audiotour while you walk through the vinyards. Very informative as to how port grapes are grown and wine is made. Tasted several bottles and purchased a 20-year Tawny. Then drove down to Pinhão and took roundtrip train to Pocinho. Lovely views along the river. Upon returning, visited Quinta do Seixo (owned by Sandeman). Incredibly impressive building. Tasting room has a better than 180 degree view out over the valley. Hard to concentrate on the wine when that gorgeous view is staring you in the face. After another wonderful dinner at Casa Cimeira, the next morning took our leave and headed west. First stop was at Quinta do Tedo -- just across the river from Regua and owned independently. They still foot-tramp the grapes. Another great tasting and purchased a LBV. It was raining so our stops at Regua and Vila Real were brief, and 4 pm found us at Graham's in VNG for our appointed visit.

While the tour was impressive, the tastings were even better. I signed up for the premium flight of three vintages: 1983, 1994 and 2007. My wife selected the premium flight of three tawnies: 30-year, 40-year, and (get this) a 1969 Colheita. The price of each flight was 30 euros -- and the Colheita alone was being sold for 295 euros/bottle. I've never tasted a tawny so smooth and pure. It was an experience. In addition we were offered tastes of a crusted and a vintage character -- both excellent, too. Although pining to purchase a bottle of the Colheita, we left with bottles of 10-year tawny and crusted (I was trying to diversify my collection). A bit giddy (and tipsy) from the tasting, as we walked to our car I receive a phone call from the hotel we were supposed to stay at that night, the Pestana Porto, informing us that our room had (allegedly) experienced a flood, and we would need to be moved to another hotel. I rejected their first offer of the Pousada as being too remote (we were turning in our rental car that evening and would be on foot). Their second offer of the Infante de Sagres was full up, so we moved to their third suggestion of the Yeatman (yeah!). Happily, they had one last room, so our reservation was transferred there -- at the Pestana Porto price. It is a wonderful hotel with impeccable service and great views -- the only disadvantage being that it is a bit isolated from the tourist action at the top of a rather long hill. But not to mind, in being moved there, we lucked out.

The following morning, we did some sightseeing in Porto, and stopped at Vinologica and bought a 1985 Colheita that was more within our purchase budget. (Note, that I was leery of buying anything too expensive because we needed to take it back to the US with us in checked baggage, and a breakage could be heart-breaking.) Next on our agenda was lunch at Barão de Fladgate at Taylor's. Great food in a beautiful setting. Strangely, our only disappointment in Porto was our visit to the Taylor tasting room. Very unimpressed with the wines offered. Moved on to Offley's where the selection was much more satisfactory. Purchased an LBV. Finally returned to the Yeatman for a fitfull night of sleep before our early morning flight back to the States (via Frankfurt).

As you can see, many of the places we visited were based on recommendations that I read on this Forum, and they were all superb. Thanks, guys, for all the help. You made me look pretty good in my wife's eyes. We both can't wait to visit again.

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Alex Bridgeman
Fonseca 1963
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Joined: 13:41 Mon 25 Jun 2007
Location: Berkshire, UK

Re: Vist to Douro and Porto - 27-31 March

Post by Alex Bridgeman » 07:05 Fri 05 Apr 2013

What a great post! Thanks for sharing your experience and I'm delighted that we were able to help you have such a great visit.
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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