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The Douro wine region
The worldwide famous Port wine and the much appreciated DOC Douro wines are produced in one of the most stunning landscapes in the world the Douro wine region classified by UNESCO as World Heritage.
Port wine is a fortified wine produced under peculiar and unique conditions. It is still produced in an old fashioned way, in which the fermentation process is stopped by adding spirits distilled from wine, and the blending of wines and aging still play a vital role.
Port wine differs from other common wines due to its specific characteristics, including its high alcohol content (between 19 and 22% of vol.) and its intense aroma and flavour.
There are many factors that determine the category of Port wines and give rise to different aromatic bouquets.
Port wines can be red, white and rosé, reds being divided into the following categories:
Ruby wines have a fruity aroma and the strength of younger wines. They are classed as Ruby, Reserve, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) and Vintage, and can be stored because they age well in the bottle.
Tawny wines are obtained from the blending of wines aged in casks or vats. Feel the dried fruit and wood of a Tawny showing its age (10, 20, 30 or 40 years). The older the wine, the more these characteristics will be enhanced. However, when bottled they can be consumed immediately.
Then we have the White and Rosé Port wines, which are often used in mixology and are particularly appreciated by the ladies (but not exclusively!).
White Port can be of various types depending on the aging periods and different degrees of sweetness. The dry ones are served as an aperitif and are also used in various cocktails.
Rosé wines, made from red grapes, should be served when young, on the rocks or mixed into other drinks.
You can experience the art of Port Wine in loco by taking part in the harvest in September/October. In the Demarcated Douro Region, several farms welcome visitors at that time of the year.
Participate in harvesting the grapes and learn about a tradition that has been handed down several generations.
After this unique experience, you will understand better the complexity and second to none richness that also characterize the table wines produced in the region. The red wines are made from indigenous grape varieties like Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (Aragonez), Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão most of the wines are the result of a blend of several varieties, but there are also some good examples of single variety wines , while white wines are dry and produced by blending several varieties like Malvasia Fina, Viosinho, Gouveio and Rabigato.
The Douro region is also home to other wines with peculiar characteristics, such as the Douro Moscatel and sparkling wines.
There are endless visit routes and not all of them are to the wine producing farms the Port Wine Route (and Douro) will take you to the best producers and restaurants in the region. You can visit the latest rock art sites by the Côa River, lodge at unforgettable hotels and travel by boat or train across a fabulous landscape.
The Pacheca Wine House Hotel, in Lamego, is set within a 51 hectare farm filled with vineyards extending down to the Douro River and is an excellent choice for those seeking intense experiences in quintessential and historical scenarios the main building is a typical 18th century construction, the traditional architecture of which has been preserved. Being a boutique hotel dedicated to gastronomic and wine tourism, wine assumes a preponderant role.
The Douro cuisine complements Port wine and the well rated Douro table wines, especially the traditional Maronesa beef and typical sausages.
The birthplace of Alvarinho
Like Porto wine and DOC Douro are praised, so is the Vinho Verde unique in the world. The Vinho Verde Region has produced unique blended wines and celebrated in 2008 the 100th anniversary of its demarcation.
Naturally light and fresh, Vinho Verde is the perfect match for salads and fish and seafood dishes you will certainly enjoy these in the fishing villages on the northern coast of Portugal.
With low alcohol content, and therefore less caloric, Vinho Verde is fruity, easy to drink, great as an aperitif or served with light, balanced meals.
The region where it is produced, the northwest of Portugal, offers the best conditions for the production of excellent white wines, and is home to the charismatic Alvarinho grape variety.
The most appreciated Portuguese Vinho Verde, Alvarinho, is produced in Monção and Melgaço, in Minho. Visit the local wine farms and admire their beautiful manor houses.
Food wise, taste the delicious codfish, catfish, trout and shad, cooked in many ways and always present in Minho cuisine. If you are fond of meat dishes, try the famous sarrabulho rice and pork loin rojões.
A journey to the riches of the past
The stunning beauty of Minho is the backdrop of the Vinho Verde Route, offering three tours. The first one invites you to visit Three Charming Cities: Guimarães, Braga and Amarante. The second tour, From Cávado to Lima, takes you to Barcelos, Viana do Castelo, Ponte de Lima, Ponte da Barca and Arcos de Valdevez, on the banks of the Lima River. The third tour, From the coast to the mountain runs along the border with Galicia, where you will discover the charms of Caminha, Vila Nova de Cerveira, Valença and Monção, capital of the famous Alvarinho.
Visit the farms, manor houses and cooperative cellars and embark on a journey to the riches of the past.
Check in at the Carmos Boutique Hotel, in Ponte de Lima, one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World where you will feel quite at home.
Indulge in the pleasures that this modern hotel has to offer, for e.g., the SPA and its unique signature treatment: dip in a rejuvenating bath filled with pure goats milk. The hotel is a five minute drive from the centre of the oldest village in Portugal.
But there is more!
If youre fond of good wines, be sure to taste the DOC Távora-Varosa produced at the foot of the slopes of Serra da Nave, between the Paiva and Távora rivers, in a small sized region located north of the Beira areas and bordering the Douro River.
This region where vineyards are grown since Roman times, but was developed mainly by the Cistercian monks is very important in the production of sparkling wines. Here the white grape varieties prevail: Malvasia Fina, Cerceal, Gouveio or Chardonnay. The most common red varieties are Touriga Francesa, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Pinot Noir.
Another area in which vineyards and wine production date back to Roman times is Trás-os-Montes. The DOC Trás-os-Montes, with its sub-regions of Chaves, Valpaços and Planalto Mirandês, is a vast region that ends on the left bank of the Douro River, where the Beira region begins. Its wines are quite different, and vary according to the microclimates in which they are found.
In Trás-os-Montes, visit Vidago Palace, one of the most famous luxury historical hotels in Portugal, not only for its sophistication but also for the lush vegetation surrounding it, making the hotels SPA and golf course one of a kind.
How to get there
There are flights from Bremen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Munich, Dortmund, Zurich, Liverpool, London, Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Dole, La Rochelle, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Paris, Rodez, St. Etienne Toulouse, Tours, Barcelona, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Bologna, Milan, Pisa, Rome, Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and New York.
The best way to go from the International Airport Francisco Sá Carneiro to the city centre is to take the underground. The trip takes about 30 minutes.
To drive to Douro, follow the national road 108 until you reach Entre-os-Rios it takes longer but the landscape is well worth the delay and continue along the bank of the Douro River until Régua. Alternatively, you can take the IP4, linking the districts of Porto, Vila Real and Bragança, or the A4, and then continue along national and municipal roads. Régua is about 100 km from Porto.
To go to Viana do Castelo, about 60 Km away from the Porto International Airport, take the A28/IC1 or the EN13. To drive to Caminha and Serra de Arga, follow the A28/IC1. To go to Ponte de Lima, in Viana do Castelo take the A27.