Another bucket list item removed – visiting a major wine producing region or country…
Two weeks of travel in Portugal brought me to Porto, Douro Valley, Algarve, Alentajo and Lisbon. Though I didn’t visit every wine region in Portugal, I tasted enough wines to form my opinion of Portuguese wine.
For two rainy days we visited port lodges in old town Porto and ended the days in port bars sipping flights of rubies and tawnies. With 19-22% alcohol, port is an aperitif or dessert item but it’s not an everyday wine. Graham’s Port Lodge
Douro Valley quintas (wine producing estates) are within one hour drive on modern highways from Porto. The large barges with vinified grapes that once floated down the Douro River into Porto have been replaced by trucks. Today river traffic is cruise ships offering spectacular views of trellised vineyards, as beautiful as any wine region in the world.
We visited Quinta de Nápoles owned by Niepoort, famous port house and Dutch family owned business since 1842. Niepoort owns several quintas and Quinta de Napoles produces the family’s unfortified (still) wines. After touring their modern winery completed in 2008, we were treated to 4-course lunch and wine pairing with winemaker and his staff.
Our visit to Quinta do Crasto also in Douro required a long ride along switchbacks following the river bed but views of river and valley were spectacular. Quinta do Crasto is NOT affiliated with port house but represents the new breed of still wine producers which became legal in 1986. After years of mediocrity the Douro is energized with wine “tourismo” and the wine quality is improving.
Leaving the Douro we spent a week at beach resort in Algarve (near Lagos). The Algarve region has beautiful beaches stretching from Atlantic Ocean to Mediterranean Sea but it is not known for their wines. The Alentajo region adjacent to Algarve on the north is where we found wines with more fruitiness than the dry red wines in Douro.
My takeaways on Portugal: (1) Portugal is known for port – their still wines are good and improving (2) locals couldn’t be more friendly (3) English is widely spoken (4) it’s a GREAT value.
SALUTE! Toasting in Portugal – (1) raise glass (2) make eye contact (3) click glass (4) say “Salute” (greeting in Portuguese).
FYI – LaFamiglia Wine Dinner is Thursday, June 21. Limited seating and reservations are required.