Port From the Barrel

We’ve visited the big port houses and sampled their port varieties, but this was an altogether different experience. We went to the source to buy some port, direct from the barrel, in the same location where the grapes are grown and trod to make the wine. Amazing!

The cloudy and rainy Sunday was not conducive to riding the Goldwing, so it was a treat to be invited to join our friends Marco and Patricia in their car for a day-trip. As we headed east from Porto, towards Vila Real, clouds were hanging low over the mountains and occasionally drifted across the motorway. Despite the dismal weather, the beauty of northern Portugal shone through, particularly as we reached the gorgeous Douro region.

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Our destination was a nondescript quinta outside the town of Sabrosa, surrounded by terraced vineyards and accessed via a long, winding dirt track. Just a private farmhouse with no signs to advertise its presence. As we pulled up, we were met by Carlos, the owner. He told us that he has 40 hectares of vineyards producing grapes for port and wine. There is also an abundance of olive trees on the property.

We were invited into a nearby building that houses several large wooden vats and smaller barrels, all containing port wine (red and white varieties). Carlos siphoned some red port from one of the barrels for us to taste.

 

The port was delicious, so we decided that we’d buy ten bottles. After all, we don’t know when we’ll get to visit again. We watched as Carlos filled bottles from the barrel, using his siphon hose, and then corked each bottle using a simple hand-operated machine.

 

We had a quick peak into another building, where the granite lagares are housed. This is where the grapes are trod in the traditional manner. It would be wonderful to be able to visit after a harvest, to see this time-honoured process taking place. The building also houses an olive press for making olive oil.

 

Yet another building house barrels of moscatel, the dessert wine made in the Douro using Muscat grapes. Glasses were filled from a barrel so that we could enjoy a taste. Another delicious wine. Two bottles por favor! And we’ll also take 5 litres of your olive oil. Our final haul also included three bottles of wine, courtesy of Carlos.

 

This was such an enjoyable visit for Bev and I. We felt so fortunate to have been invited to what felt like a secret location, known only to the local population. It was a special moment that we will remember each time we open one of these unlabelled bottles.

With the car loaded with bottles and flasks, it was time to eat lunch, so we headed to the nearby Natur Waterpark. Whilst a waterpark might seem like an odd choice for lunch, Marco and Patricia knew from experience that they serve delicious Portuguese food. They were right. My goat was very nice. Bev said that her salmon was one of the best she has tasted. And the bacalhau also looked delicious.

 

The waterpark itself is closed for the winter, but it looks like somewhere that Ethan would enjoy during his summer visits. I suspect that we’ll be back so that he can check out the slides and other fun activities.

 

After our delicious lunch, we headed to the Miradouro de São Leonardo de Galafura – a viewpoint that overlooks the Douro River from a height of 640 metres. Unfortunately, the rainy weather impacted the stunning view, but even these washed-out photographs give you an idea of how gorgeous it will be on a nice sunny day. After all, Portugal is still beautiful when it is raining. This is a spot that I will certainly return to in the summer.

 

Our route back to Porto passed by the town of Amarante, so we stopped in for a visit to the pretty little town on the Tamega River. We’ve ridden on paddle-boats on the calm river here in the summer. But the river was in fast flow on this visit, due to all of the recent rain. We parked by the river and walked the short distance along the cobbled street to Adega Kilowatt, a quaint little eatery that dates back to 1929. The food menu primarily involves prejunto ham, salpicom (smoked sausage) and cheese, either as a platter or in a sandwich. We had the ham and cheese sandwich, followed by the salpicom sandwich. Both were very nice.

 

Following a dark and rainy drive from Amarante, we were kindly delivered to our door, to bring to an end an enjoyable and memorable day out with friends. Now, where is that corkscrew?

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