TNs: Another trip to the Douro

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Tomás Costa
Posts: 253
Joined: April 22nd, 2020, 11:43 am

TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#1 Post by Tomás Costa » July 29th, 2020, 3:13 am

My third stay at the Douro this year, and this time we opted to stay at Lamego Hotel & Life - simple, elegant and affordable, and with the advantage of being inserted in the city. Still, you get a swimming pool overlooking the valley!

Lunch was in neighboring Vila Real, at Cais da Villa - a favorite which I hadn't visited in a long time. The sommelier, as always, was helpful and attentive, and introduced me to a small, affordable Douro producer: Quinta de Ceis. Their white reserva was tense, nutty, mineral, with discreet and well integrated oak. Everything I could ask out of a white Douro within the price range, and great pairing with the light summer tapas we ordered.

Dinner was at the hotel restaurant, where we were introduced to the hotel's own white bottling, Quinta Branca - a quirky though not exactly balanced light drinker, with a vaguely funky, sulphur-ish nose, high acidity and bone dryness. Pomares, Quinta Nova's entry level white, though 'easy drinking' in that fruity, perfumed sort of way, was more consensual, but both were good matches for a corvina steak with sweet potato puree. There was also a wonderful dessert: a reinvention of the classic Portuguese 'arroz doce' (a cousin of the Spanish arroz con leche) enveloped in a block of white chocolate, with a light lemon mousse.

Looking forward to tonight's dinner at Quinta do Bonfim, hosted by chef Pedro Lemos...
IMG_20200728_142150.jpg
IMG_20200728_222157.jpg
IMG_20200728_182401.jpg
IMG_20200728_180554.jpg

User avatar
Tomás Costa
Posts: 253
Joined: April 22nd, 2020, 11:43 am

Re: TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#2 Post by Tomás Costa » July 29th, 2020, 4:38 pm

Went to Quinta das Chaquedas for lunch, hosted by the lovely Ana Paula Filipe Castro. Not only was her swimming pool (overlooking the Douro valley) a pleasure we took great advantage of, her wines - we tasted the red 2018 Colheita and 2017 Reserva - are splendid ever since Jorge Alves recently took over as oenologist for her project. Like all of his wines, these were wonderfully fresh and impeccably balanced, although still with a fair bit of youthful grit on them. Ana Paula will now have the problem of having to sell these new wines alongside the rustic mediocrities she was producing under the previous oenology team, of which she still has more than a few in stock.

Dinner was at Quinta do Bonfim, one of the many Symington estates and the home of Dow's port. Pedro Lemos, one of Portugal's top chefs, is in charge of the wonderfully 'comfort food' menu, which has just the right balance of tradition and contemporary elegance. The meal paired well with the white from Quinta de Fonte Souto, Symington's Alentejo project. Having enjoyed this wine on release I confirmed my opinion of it, although I don't find the oak to be as seamlessly integrated as it ought to for it to be a real killer. Graham's 20 year old tawny was reliably lovely as the pairing for an almond tart with sour cream.
IMG_20200729_154001.jpg
IMG_20200729_202430.jpg
IMG_20200729_222527.jpg

john stimson
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 3513
Joined: January 24th, 2010, 8:11 pm
Location: seattle

Re: TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#3 Post by john stimson » July 30th, 2020, 11:59 am

Nice Tomas--a very beautiful part of the world, where every estate seems to also have a killer swimming pool with a view.

User avatar
Tomás Costa
Posts: 253
Joined: April 22nd, 2020, 11:43 am

Re: TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#4 Post by Tomás Costa » July 30th, 2020, 4:59 pm

john stimson wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 11:59 am
Nice Tomas--a very beautiful part of the world, where every estate seems to also have a killer swimming pool with a view.
There's nowhere else you'd rather be when it gets up to 48 Celsius under the sun, as it did that day...

Today was one of those lazy pool days - from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon - before prepping for dinner with Jorge Alves and his lovely family at Cacho d'Oiro restaurant in Régua. Jorge always seems to carry a red Burgundy with him, and today we had the 2017 Voillot Pommard 1er Cru les Pezerolles. Theoretically I was expecting a young Pommard 1er to be unapproachable, but this was very enjoyable and eminently classy, with a markedly old oak aroma, and elegant though appropriately acidic mouthfeel. Jorge's wife, the head of viticulture for Luisa Amorim's projects (where Jorge works as oenologist) is not a fan of cool climate reds such as this, and so we ordered one of his wines, the Quinta do Tedo Reserva 2014. Like all of his wines it was bright, fresh and pure, though still characteristically Douro, but unlike the 2013 which we had on our last meeting at Tedo, this is still not drinking at peak. Two lovely bottles - very different, and both still young, but perfectly enjoyable now.
IMG_20200730_205142.jpg

User avatar
Todd F r e n c h
Site Admin
<dfn>Site Admin</dfn>
Posts: 39893
Joined: January 27th, 2009, 8:46 am
Location: San Clemente, CA

Re: TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#5 Post by Todd F r e n c h » July 30th, 2020, 5:01 pm

Thank you, Tomas - wonderful notes, allowing us to live vicariously through your travels. I've long wanted to visit Portugal...
Apparently I'm lazy, have a narrow agenda, and offer little in the way of content and substance (RMP) (and have a "penchant for gossip" -KBI)

Joshua Kates
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 1528
Joined: October 30th, 2011, 6:31 am

Re: TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#6 Post by Joshua Kates » July 30th, 2020, 5:05 pm

Yes, thanks for the notes, Tomás,

And lovely pics. You say one of your menus featured Portuguese comfort food--I was curious what was served?

Cheers,
Josh
Neils Bohr had a horseshoe over the door to his country house. A visiting student said to him: "you don't believe in that, do you?" Bohr replied, "of course not," and added, "but you don't have to believe in it for it to work."

User avatar
Tomás Costa
Posts: 253
Joined: April 22nd, 2020, 11:43 am

Re: TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#7 Post by Tomás Costa » July 30th, 2020, 5:24 pm

Todd F r e n c h wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 5:01 pm
Thank you, Tomas - wonderful notes, allowing us to live vicariously through your travels. I've long wanted to visit Portugal...
I can't wait for air travel to be normalized. There are people in the Douro wine tourism sector losing their jobs over the lack of visitors, and it's so sad to hear.
Joshua Kates wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 5:05 pm
Yes, thanks for the notes, Tomás,

And lovely pics. You say one of your menus featured Portuguese comfort food--I was curious what was served?

Cheers,
Josh
I have this problem of forgetting to take pictures of the food as I indulge in it ;) we had two entrees - oxheart tomato gaspacho and horse mackerel in escabeche sauce - and then shared two Portuguese staples, octopus rice and duck rice. Both were cooked to a drier point than is traditional, but wonderfully textured and savory.

I should point out that what the Douro estates have been doing with oxheart tomato is phenomenal. The only time I ever saw the whole Douro elite in the same place - at Quinta do Vallado - was for the oxheart tomato competition, which is traditionally held in August. If you can imagine the tomato equivalent of Port, that's it: those tomatoes would shine next to a fillet mignon. There were 23 of them, from different producers, and I tasted all of them, in what was easily one of the most indulgent moments in my life.

User avatar
PaulMills
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 2220
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 4:54 pm
Location: Greenville, SC

Re: TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#8 Post by PaulMills » July 30th, 2020, 6:22 pm

That looks like an awesome experience, thanks for sharing.

User avatar
Eric Ifune
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 3713
Joined: June 19th, 2009, 7:43 pm

Re: TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#9 Post by Eric Ifune » July 30th, 2020, 7:27 pm

Is Pedro Lemos permanently at Bonfim, or was this just a one off? Love his namesake restaurant. Even attended a cooking demonstration by him there.

User avatar
Tomás Costa
Posts: 253
Joined: April 22nd, 2020, 11:43 am

Re: TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#10 Post by Tomás Costa » July 31st, 2020, 1:17 am

Eric Ifune wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 7:27 pm
Is Pedro Lemos permanently at Bonfim, or was this just a one off? Love his namesake restaurant. Even attended a cooking demonstration by him there.
He had left that very day for Porto, but his wife hosted us. However, I believe he's only been going back and forth like this ever since the post-pandemic reopening.

Joshua Kates
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 1528
Joined: October 30th, 2011, 6:31 am

Re: TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#11 Post by Joshua Kates » July 31st, 2020, 7:01 am

Tomás Costa wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 5:24 pm
Todd F r e n c h wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 5:01 pm
Thank you, Tomas - wonderful notes, allowing us to live vicariously through your travels. I've long wanted to visit Portugal...
I can't wait for air travel to be normalized. There are people in the Douro wine tourism sector losing their jobs over the lack of visitors, and it's so sad to hear.
Joshua Kates wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 5:05 pm
Yes, thanks for the notes, Tomás,

And lovely pics. You say one of your menus featured Portuguese comfort food--I was curious what was served?

Cheers,
Josh


I have this problem of forgetting to take pictures of the food as I indulge in it ;) we had two entrees - oxheart tomato gaspacho and horse mackerel in escabeche sauce - and then shared two Portuguese staples, octopus rice and duck rice. Both were cooked to a drier point than is traditional, but wonderfully textured and savory.

I should point out that what the Douro estates have been doing with oxheart tomato is phenomenal. The only time I ever saw the whole Douro elite in the same place - at Quinta do Vallado - was for the oxheart tomato competition, which is traditionally held in August. If you can imagine the tomato equivalent of Port, that's it: those tomatoes would shine next to a fillet mignon. There were 23 of them, from different producers, and I tasted all of them, in what was easily one of the most indulgent moments in my life.
Thanks, Tomás, you're making me jealous.
We get a lot of heirloom tomatoes here, but never I believe oxhearts. I will have to search some out. (Of course, if we make gazpacho, it still won't be the same.)
Neils Bohr had a horseshoe over the door to his country house. A visiting student said to him: "you don't believe in that, do you?" Bohr replied, "of course not," and added, "but you don't have to believe in it for it to work."

User avatar
Tomás Costa
Posts: 253
Joined: April 22nd, 2020, 11:43 am

Re: TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#12 Post by Tomás Costa » July 31st, 2020, 11:22 am

On our drive back from Lamego we stopped for lunch at Zé da Calçada restaurant in Amarante, a charming old town and one of the most important in the southern Vinhos Verdes. I ordered the restaurant's recipe of codfish and we were prepared to be Roman in Rome by ordering an Avesso based white, but the sommelier - a family acquaintance - gifted us a bottle of Quinta da Gricha 2007.

And what an absolute stunner. Finely layered, complex nose, full of oak spice, dark chocolate, black pepper, and rosin after the initial whiff of sour black fruit. In the mouth I struggled to find anything but terrific balance: structure, acidity, tannin and mouthfeel all felt exactly proportionate to each other, with a balsamic, minty, almost citrus-y palate that somehow came across as both hedonistic and austere. This wine has a long way to go, but is drinking fantastically right now.
Attachments
IMG_20200731_140045.jpg
IMG_20200731_125038.jpg
IMG_20200731_124922.jpg

User avatar
Tomás Costa
Posts: 253
Joined: April 22nd, 2020, 11:43 am

Re: TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#13 Post by Tomás Costa » July 31st, 2020, 11:38 am

We finished our detour with a guided visit at Quinta da Aveleda, a staple of the Vinhos Verdes and easily the most beautiful wine estate in all of Portugal. With its combination of Romantic architecture, astonishing botanical variety and mixture of French and English gardens, it's hard to believe we are visiting the producer of a wine like Casal Garcia! Yet that too is beginning to change. Whether or not it is thanks to their merger with Quinta Vale Dona Maria, Aveleda is now investing in quality 'vin de terroir', although their cheap vinho verde will likely remain their financial backbone. Our charming hostess led us through a tasting of four of these parcel wines, in which we happily probed our way through the different characteristics taken on by the Alvarinho and Loureiro grapes grown in differing soils of granite and schist. The only element missing in these pictures is that of the hysterical cries of peacocks, one of the estate's main tenants and a bizarre addition to a heavenly afternoon of great sights, great sunny weather and lovely white wine.

https://ibb.co/qYXCs8D
https://ibb.co/mcYLLLH
https://ibb.co/D7bFDqd
https://ibb.co/sVHgdCb
https://ibb.co/MfHTNR6
https://ibb.co/zZyh9mP
https://ibb.co/7gDQ63M
https://ibb.co/pvbfkhf
https://ibb.co/0j92D31
https://ibb.co/fYgH9gd
https://ibb.co/dp59VQk
Attachments
IMG_20200731_175734.jpg
IMG_20200731_174313.jpg
IMG_20200731_172321.jpg

User avatar
Ed Steinway
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 1706
Joined: March 14th, 2010, 4:40 pm

Re: TNs: Another trip to the Douro

#14 Post by Ed Steinway » August 1st, 2020, 6:58 am

Great pictures! Thank you for posting these. We were there for only 1 day in 2017 but really enjoyed the visit and would love to go back to visit!

Ed

Post Reply

Return to “Wine Talk”