Our Douro Valley daytrip with EFun Tours had a late start due to three Brazilian ladies who couldn’t find parking. Thankfully we got along fine with the other couple on the tour, two retired Canadians from Halifax, and still managed to make all the stops as advertised. Communication was a bit odd as two of the girls didn’t speak any English so everything had to be repeated in both Portuguese and English.
Our first stop was a quaint cafe, Placidos – Padaria E Pastelaria, for a (tiny) coffee and (light and delicious) pastry with a spectacular view of the Douro River off the back patio.
Our first vineyard was Quinta do Panascal – Fonseca Porto which featured an amazing drive up to beautiful grounds, but culminated in a rather formulaic tasting.
- Sirocco – Extra Dry. Drink in 2 months. Grape must scent. Thin. Light almond, clean after taste.
- Bin 27 Ruby Reserve – Drink in 3 months. Quite sweet, med dry. Floral scent (violet). Light raisin, light burnt sugar.
- Tawny port – drink in 6 months. Nose of berry fruit, oak. Tastes more aged, cognac notes with caramel. Very nice. After meal digestif.
Our second stop was a three course lunch at Vintagetheory accompanied by their white and red wines.
- White – lovely blend of three grapes, floral and citrus. Pork and cabbage was good, few beans. Arugula salad was nice also.
- Red – blend of three red grapes. Smooth, blackberry and blueberries on nose, violet and berries on palate. Little more acid would be better. Pork with bacon was very nice, if a little dry. Risotto was just ok, needed more wild mushrooms.
- Port – 10 yr tawny with chocolate cake. Deep molasses and brown sugar notes, good sweetness.
After lunch, we had a few minutes to explore the gardens and vines before our group merged with another for a tour of the property, including the family chapel.
The tour ended with two more samples of their older tawny ports straight from the barrel in the storage room.
- 20yr – more wood, a little bitter, more dried fruit, thicker?; preferred the 10yr.
- 30yr – more heat, less wood than 20yr; vanilla creme brulee, more complex layers of sugars.
Feeling mighty fine at this point, we ventured to our third and final tasting at Quinta do Beijo. Our tour guide, João, was quite the character – very sarcastic and (for the most part) entertaining during the one hour tasting experience.
We started the tasting with three of their still wines amongst multiple large wooden barrels (100 and 40 yrs old).
- White blend – strong lemon and acid, very light body; needs more structure.
- Red blend – residual bitterness, some leather and berry; too young, chewy and woody.
- Red reserva – nose is fruitier with dry cranberry and mulberry; violet and floral notes on palate, then very dry; finish with herbal and cedar wood notes; needs more acid.
On to the ports! After a short walk through the facility we came to the aging room where the tour got more interesting. Our guide talked about how they clean the barrels (you could not get me in there!) and how port wines age (or don’t) in the bottle.
- 10yr tawny port – little heat, caramel, a little floral; liked the Vinetagetheory 10yr better.
- 1963(!) white port- tawny color and layers of brown sugar and cooking spices; very rich and deep, surprising.
- 20yr old white port – less complex, more standard brown sugar and cinnamon; a little more heat, less on the nose.
This tour was worth it for the views and it piqued our interest in a longer self-drive of the area for sure.