One highlight followed another during the Algarve Wine Society’s recent trip to the Douro Valley. The tour was devised and led by professional wine educator, Stephen Rosser. The Douro was the world’s first demarcated wine region having been founded in 1756, and its wine-making region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
The week started with the 19 participants travelling along the Douro Valley to the luxurious Wine Hotel Quinta do Vallado in Régua. After a tour of the winery, the party enjoyed a delicious al fresco dinner hosted by family member Francisco Ferreira.
The second day started with a trip following the Douro from Régua to Tua, a trip recommended by Michael Palin as being one of the best train journeys of its kind in the world.
This was followed by a bumpy ride in a grape-pickers’ truck to Quinta dos Malvedos, one of 26 Symington owned quintas in the area. There the group enjoyed a memorable port tasting given by Henry Shotton and Jackie Dias.
In the afternoon, there was a visit to Quinta do Seixo, part of the Sandeman empire which is now owned by Sogrape and recently revamped at a cost of €7.5 million. High above the Douro River and overlooking the breathtaking Douro Valley the group tasted a 10-year-old Tawny and a 2008 LBV port.
The following day the group went to Quinta do Noval, owned by AXA, the diversified French wealth management and insurance group. Then they went by a rabelo (traditional boat) from Pinhão to the Quinta do Crasto estate. The rabelo is a unique Portuguese cargo sailing boat, which was used before the coming of trains to transport port, wines and other goods along the Douro. The annual Race of Rabelo Boats is a very colourful occasion with around 20 boats, sponsored by the major cellars, racing on the Douro at Porto.
The fourth day started with visits to Niepoort’s Quinta de Nápoles and then the group went to Cristiano Van Zeller’s Quinta Vale Dona Maria where Francisca, his daughter, presented her own namesake wine, Vinha da Francisca 2011.
Late that night some of the more intrepid members of the group went off to tread the port grapes at the Quinta do Vallado – a four hour treading accompanied by singing, marching and much libation.
On the next (and last) day the group visited the Niepoort cellars in Vila Nova da Gaia. That evening there was a sumptuous reception, guided tour and a black tie dinner in Porto’s unique Factory House.
The Factory House is a splendid grand residence in the centre of Porto and is home to the British Association, all members of which are required to be involved as directors in the port business. It was a rare insight into history and the traditions involved with the trade.
After a lovely dinner the group moved to the adjoining dining room to drink 1985 Fonseca Vintage port, this having been donated to the Factory House by Nick Heath, marketing director of Taylor’s.
|| The Algarve Wine Society
The Algarve Wine Society (AWS) was formally established in 2003 as a non-profit association. Its aims are to disseminate and impart knowledge about wine in a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere.
The AWS has approximately 220 members of 12 different nationalities. Activities typically include up to 10 events a year where invited wineries introduce their wines followed by a lunch or dinner. Additionally, trips of varying lengths are organised within Iberia (the Alentejo, Terras del Sado, Ribatejo, Bairrada, Dão, Rioja, Jerez and Ribera del Duero etc.) and further abroad (France, Italy, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa).
For further information please contact Nigel Adams, AWS Secretary: