Lodges again

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
Quinta do Vesuvio 1994
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Lodges again

Post by JacobH »

I think I am going to have half-a-day in Porto in a few week’s time, en route back to the airport from Coimbra. I’m trying to work out how to maximise my Port tasting. Current plan is something like a lodge tour, lunch, then trying to visit Lado (which has been closed the last 3 times I’ve been there!).

In recent years, I think I have visited these lodges / tasting rooms in VndG: Churchill, Quevedo, Sandeman, Ramos Pinto, Cockburn, Taylor’s, Noval, Cruz, Vasconcellos & Cálem. Plus a few of the small places on the streets going up from the river.

The obvious places by the river which I haven’t tried are Burmester (by the bridge); Kopke & Graham. I drink so much Graham’s at home that I’ll probably continue to skip that one, unless anyone thinks it is essential? But I was also wondering if it might be worth trying some of the other places up the hill. For example, I think Poças is offering tours near the main VndG station. Has anyone been there? It also looks like there is now a bar at Fonseca, although I am not sure if there is more than that. Similar considerations seem to apply for Ferreira.

Any recommendations would be welcome!

(PS. I am very catholic in my lodge-tour tastes, as long as it is possible to buy a good tasting at the end which doesn’t just include their basic ruby, tawny and LBV!)
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Alex Bridgeman
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Re: Lodges again

Post by Alex Bridgeman »

Jacob - if you book your tasting at LaDo in advance you’ll know that it will be open when you arrive. Barring exceptional circumstances, Maria will make sure that any confirmed tastings are honoured - and feel free to say that you’re looking to go off-piste once your booked tasting has finished. Last time I was there (in November), you could get the Mourão 100 yo tawny by the glass, albeit for €200 for a 5cl pour.

Ramos Pinto is a very good tasting room even if you’ve done the visit before. In November they had the 1982 and some younger vintages available by the glass.

I visited Poças in June last year. It’s a good visit which is worth it at least once. They have some great colheitas and an extremely impressive gated cellar of LBV and Vintage Ports (but ask in advance if you could be allowed to see it).

Ferreira is a visit not on your list. It’s a fascinating visit with a decent tasting room after the visit. That’s the Lodge tour I’d recommend given where you’ve already been.

Kopke is a tasting room, but a very good one with a good range of Ports to try.

But if you’re trying to maximise your Port Tasting opportunities, give Maria a call at LaDo and book yourself in. She’s not far from the metro so very convenient for getting there from Porto Campanha and getting from there to the airport (assuming you have been spitting and don’t forget what time your flight is!). Once you’ve finished your booked tasting you can work your way through whatever interests you. If you do call her to book, let her know that you’re part of the Port Forum (and that I’ve steered you towards LaDo).
Top Ports in 2021: Niepoort Garrafeira 1931; Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Cockburn 1969 Single Harvest Tawny

Top Port in 2022 so far: the most stunning bottle of Quinta do Noval Nacional 1931. I have never drunk such a wonderful bottle of Port.
Glenn E.
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Re: Lodges again

Post by Glenn E. »

I second LaDo - Maria will take very good care of you!

Outside of lodge tours, LaDo and Baccus Vini are the two places that I consistently recommend. You shouldn't need a reservation for Baccus Vini (and I don't even know if they'll take them), and Maria will take great care of you there, too.

Different Maria. Maria Tita at LaDo and Maria Fonseca at Baccus Vini. :-)
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Andy Velebil
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Re: Lodges again

Post by Andy Velebil »

agree on all the others already mentioned. And add in Cockburn’s for a larger lodge tour. Ask for an upgraded tasting for the upstairs tasting room. They usually have some moderately older things to try.
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JacobH
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Re: Lodges again

Post by JacobH »

Thank you all for these recommendations. I had a very nice tasting and tour at Cockburn in their private room back in 2021: amazing how much it had changed from my first visit back in pre-Symington days! I also agree with Ramos Pinto. I went there in 2020 and it’s really nice you can just choose from a decent range of their VPs by the glass without having to buy a “package” that includes all of the cheap ones. Not that there is anything wrong with going through the full range on occasion: it’s just that it can become fatiguing if you are going to different places back-to-back.

I didn’t know about Bacccus Vini, although I have walked past it on several occasions. I’m not sure if anyone else feels this way but I am often hesitant about the bars and restaurants on both sides of the river (but particularly the North) on the basis that they look a bit like tourist traps which is probably why I discounted them. Unfortunately, they seem to open at 4pm which may be pushing it for a 6.40pm flight so I think I will take recommendations and try to make a booking at Lado.
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SLT
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Re: Lodges again

Post by SLT »

Jacob - I almost always stop by Baccus Vini (hopefully with a seat at a table outside). Maria Fonseca there always pulls out something interesting. The last time I was there she was pouring Quinta Santa Eufêmia 10 Year Old White Port, Quinta da Devesa 20 Year Old Tawny, 2011 Dalva Golden White Colheita, and 2011 Casa dos Lagares Fragulho Reserva Moscatel. Interesting, fun, and great spot for relaxing, sipping and people-watching.
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