Douro debrief

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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djewesbury
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Douro debrief

Post by djewesbury » 01:17 Thu 19 Sep 2013

This is something of a placeholder at the moment. I will add more over the next few days, as I remember more and think over what I want to say.

A couple of initial points: some people are doing some fantastic things to enhance the tourist experience and to add something to the trade (something that is not just about 'lowest common denominator' Port101 tastings, for those who will probably never visit Porto or the Douro again). Vinum and the new Graham's wine bar, in Gaia, are fantastic: excellent food, excellent range of wines and ports and excellent prices too, which is very refreshing indeed; I didn't expect to see such competitive prices on the wine list, here, after the last ten days in the region. However, the official organisation of the Douro wine tourism industry seems to be falling apart. The Solar do Vinho do Porto in Regua has closed. The Rota do Vinho do Porto office in Regua has closed (so no nice maps with all the participating quintas marked). The Solar do Vinho do Porto, in Porto itself, seems to have closed (the very helpful receptionist at the Yeatman checked two websites which assured us it would be open until midnight). The tourism offices seem to be open but I'm not sure anyone knows why; they are uniformly abysmal. Elsewhere, trying to buy an interesting glass of port without having to check your bank balance is becoming very difficult. Even some of the good restaurants (for instance, Castas e Pratos, a great restaurant in Regua with a formidable wine list) have a miserable range of ports by the glass. I know there are reasons for this and I know that I am just complaining because I can't get what I want. I'll try and address that and show how this is a more general worry about the state of the tourism industry (which I expect to support the winemaking industry). I'll also try and remember to post a couple of pictures I took of port lists in restaurants and bars in Pinhao, showing prices by the bottle; some eye-watering, some sensible.

It looks very much like the onus for organising and co-ordinating tourism is with the producers. A lot of people I met seem run off their feet trying to be all things to all men: pumping over the wine this afternoon and then meeting clients in the evening and then entertaining the guests. It looks like very hard work, and it sounds like the economics of it are getting tighter all the time. The 'big boys' are responding to the post-86 quintas coming into their own by trying to go stratospheric (Stone Terraces / VVV / other Nacional-type branding exercises). All the same the DOC Douro wine market looks amazingly healthy. Will some producers decide port isn't worth the effort?

I'll try and add some more constructive, considered thoughts when I'm not fed up at making circuitous, fruitless taxi rides to venues that no longer exist, or at clambering up hill and down dale looking for things are aren't there.

We had a lovely time. We have a full wine case coming back with us on the plane and have made some very good friendships which we hope will last a long time. But we are dedicated to port, and we'll persist if the signposts aren't there or the tourist office has no information...
Daniel J.
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djewesbury
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Re: Douro debrief

Post by djewesbury » 19:35 Mon 23 Sep 2013

The by-the-glass and by-the-bottle port menu from LBV in Pinhao. Are the latter slightly optimistic? Or do people pay these prices?

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Re: Douro debrief

Post by djewesbury » 19:37 Mon 23 Sep 2013

A sample page from the Vintage House Hotel's port menu.
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Re: Douro debrief

Post by djewesbury » 11:46 Thu 26 Sep 2013

If you really want it...
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AHB
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Re: Douro debrief

Post by AHB » 13:05 Thu 26 Sep 2013

It will be interesting to see how the secondary market prices the rarities coming from the 2011 Port vintage. Given the scarcity of Stone Terraces, there are some people who might see €150 as a price they are prepared to pay!
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Re: Douro debrief

Post by djewesbury » 13:45 Thu 26 Sep 2013

But perhaps not at the Graham's lodge..
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AW77
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Re: Douro debrief

Post by AW77 » 15:09 Thu 26 Sep 2013

The Solar do Vinho do Porto in Porto is indeed closed. People told me that the tenancy agreement had run out and the city council did not renew it. It's a shame as I wanted to visit it while in Porto this August. I have not been there before but know the Solar in Lisbon. The Solar there is really good with almost anything except VPs served by the glass (the staff at the Solar is not really friendly though).
PS: The Solar in Lisbon is housed in a building that is owned directly by the IVDP. So there will be no problem with the landlord as in Porto.
The Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt know thy Port

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djewesbury
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Re: Douro debrief

Post by djewesbury » 15:14 Thu 26 Sep 2013

AW77 wrote:People told me that the tenancy agreement had run out and the city council did not renew it.
That is something of a disgrace. This is the centre of the industry and they are selling themselves well short.
Daniel J.
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Re: Douro debrief

Post by AW77 » 15:25 Thu 26 Sep 2013

Yes, it's a disgrace. But as people told me, it's not the IVDPs fault, but the city council's (but I don't know the other side of the story).
Anyway, they are looking for another place to open a new Solar in Porto. Let's hope they find a nice place soon.
The Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt know thy Port

Glenn E.
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Re: Douro debrief

Post by Glenn E. » 17:15 Thu 26 Sep 2013

djewesbury wrote:If you really want it...
I do! And that's not a bad price, at least not in the US. In fact that's a really good price. Where was that? Do they take internet orders?
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djewesbury
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Re: Douro debrief

Post by djewesbury » 18:08 Thu 26 Sep 2013

Glenn E. wrote:
djewesbury wrote:If you really want it...
I do! And that's not a bad price, at least not in the US. In fact that's a really good price. Where was that? Do they take internet orders?
That was in the new shop at the Graham's lodge. Everything's been re-jigged since they opened the restaurant and the shop is much bigger.. A reasonable selection of past vintages of Graham, Malvedos, Vesuvio etc - with some large formats too. If someone we know is heading over there soon you could ask them to get a few for you? Didn't look like there was a shortage, and it wasn't exactly flying out the door....
Daniel J.
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Re: Douro debrief

Post by DRT » 18:54 Thu 26 Sep 2013

I don't think that is an excessive price given the premium on rarity and what other similar super-cuvee VPs are sold for.

What was the In Bond price on release in the UK? I think the cheapest price I saw was around £70 per bottle. Add Duty and VAT and you are approaching £100. £130ish retail doesn't seem unreasonable when there is nowhere else in the world you can buy it.
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djewesbury
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Re: Douro debrief

Post by djewesbury » 21:05 Thu 26 Sep 2013

DRT wrote:I don't think that is an excessive price given the premium on rarity and what other similar super-cuvee VPs are sold for.

What was the In Bond price on release in the UK? I think the cheapest price I saw was around £70 per bottle. Add Duty and VAT and you are approaching £100. £130ish retail doesn't seem unreasonable when there is nowhere else in the world you can buy it.
When you put it like that I'm wondering why I didn't buy them out. Oh hang on, I remembered...
Daniel J.
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