I’ve been fortunate to have visited many stunning wine regions, but there’s always been one I’ve been itching to explore.Since my father and I were celebrating big birthdays, it was ample excuse to finally visit the spectacular Douro valley with vineyards painstakingly carved out over centuries into the impossibly steep schist slopes.
Our first stop was to the towering Graham’s Port Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia, set on the banks of the River Douro. Part of the Symington family holdings, started by two Scottish brothers in 1820, from the wealthy textile family Graham’s.
A magical place where for hundreds of years ‘rabelos’ traditional wooden Portuguese cargo boats have shipped people and goods up the valley to deliver the port barrels here where temperatures are favourable for slow maturation.
This was a most perilous voyage and many lives were lost, as the river, now tamed by dams was full of ravaging torrents.
Graham’s ‘six grapes’ reserve
Graham’s Vintage Port 200
Graham’s10, 20, 30 year old Tawny
Colheita single vineyard ‘the Apprentice’1994
Quinta Do Bomfim
The following morning we took the train from Porto Sao Bento following the river. This is a magnificent journey, most scenic after Regua, in the heart of the worlds oldest demarcated wine region. After a short walk from Pinhao train station we arrived at Quinta da Bomfim, one of the many Symington family wineries in the Douro Valley. The Grape harvest had started the day before and we were lucky to see the automated grape treaders in action
Altano Branco DOC Douro
Quinta do Ataide DOC Douro
Quinta do Vesuvio DOC Douro
Warres Quinta da Cavadinha vintage 2001
Graham’s Quinta Dos Malvasia Vintage 2004
Dows Quinta Do Bomfim Vintage
Only a short 1.2 km ride from Ferrao train station we arrive at Quinta Nova winery hotel. It’s set in a truly stunning location with panoramic views up the river and miles of vineyard paths to explore. The winery on site Dates back to 1764.Their Conceitus Winery restaurant serves some of the best food in the valley. After a refreshing swim in the infinity pool we were ready for dinner with the winemakers selection at Conceitus.
Pomares Branco 2017 three white Portuguese grape varietals Viosinho Rabigato Gouveio fresh hints tropical fruits
Grainha 2016 Branco Gouveio, Viosinho, Rabigato and Fernão Pires aged 7 months in oak with batonage
More silky smooth texture
Quinta Nova terroir Reserve 2016 Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cão, Tinta Roriz
Intense color , aromas of wild berries, cassis and blueberries good concentration.
The wines in general give a big bang for their buck, rich concentrated fruity but with depth and complexity.
Quinta da Roeda
A long term ambition to stomp grapes in the Lagares brought us to Crofts flagship Estate in the Douro. Luckily harvest had started the day before. It’s a short taxi 2km from Pinhao station
A Lagares full of red grapes awaited us.We excitedly immersed ourselves- wonderful, warm, fermenting, squishy sensations underfoot which led to some spontaneous albeit not very synchronized dancing!
I highly recommend a trip to this region. It has everything an oenophile can wish for and more.