Thursday’s Special: Scenic

Wine Vines As Far As The Eye Can See

Douro River Valley, Portugal

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CFFC: Piles or Stack

Fine Wine

Bottles of aging port at Quinta do Seixo in the Douro River Valley,  the winery where Sandeman products originate. Sandeman was established in 1790 and was family owned until 1993.

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Tuesday Photo Challenge: Age

Better With Age

Aged 20 years, Port, Villar D’Allen, Porto, Portugal

We tasted a 20-year-old tawny port during the tour of  Quinta de Vilar D`Allen near Porto, Portugal. The Villar d’Allen Manor has belonged to the Allen family since 1839, when John Allen, an English businessman, bought it in a public auction. The 18th and 19th century house and gardens harken back to romanticism and grandeur. A series of formal gardens are full of flowers, especially camelias, many very old varieties. The Allen family provides guided tours to the House and Gardens and wine tasting. Mr. Allen blends and bottles his own port. The property, one of the few surviving leisure manors that surrounded the city of Porto in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was designated a Building of Public Interest in 2010. The Allen’s are gracious and welcoming hosts, very proud of their heritage and their gardens.

Gardens, Villar d’ Allen, Porto, Portugal

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Thursday’s Special: Pick A Word – Reflective

Reflective

Green Wine and Port, Casa , in the Douro Valley, outside Portugal

Green wine (Vihno Verde) and port at  Quinta do Seixo, the huge Sandeman winery in the Douro River Valley, Portugal. Tours and wine tasting are available at the quinta outside the small city of Pinhão.

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Quinta da Aveleda-A Garden Fantasy

Records from as early as 1671 document wine production on what is now Quinta da Aveleda. For over 300 years the Guedes family has tended the land, developing beautiful gardens as well as vinho verde and other wines. Aveleda first bottled wine in 1870.

While the family no longer lives in the 17th-century house full-time, it is used for family events.

The gardens wind through a lush forest with follies, water features, and even a goat tower, with goats. A 200- year-old eucalyptus towers over the garden.

Roses, azaleas, rhododendrans, camelias, and other flowering trees paint streaks of color against the lush greens.

Aveleda uses only grapes native to Portugal in its wine production. It is one of the three major Portuguese labels, making a variety of wines including aguardent, a type of brandy.

The Quinta is located near Penafiel, about 40 km from Porto. Guided tours of the gardens and wine tastings are available. The beautiful peacock will greet you at the tasting room.

A Porto in Every Storm

The drive from the city of Porto to the Douro River Valley, the home of the liquid porto, winds through hills and valleys covered with vines. Vines going up, down, over, and around the hills.

As we came down into the valley, we stopped to view the small city of Pinhão in the distance. Pinhão, in the Alto Douro, is the start of the porto region. The micro climate is perfect for grapes, olives, and almonds.

The Douro Valley is famous for its wine production, especially port, or porto as its called here. Porto is a fortified wine with a high alcohol content, about 20%. Porto can be ruby, tawny, white, and vintage. Some are a blend of several varieties.

Much of the valley is slate, which makes an excellent soil for vines. It also makes great walls and stone terraces.

The Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the first demarcated wine region in the world.

We visited Quinta do Seixo, the winery where Sandeman products originate. Sandeman was established in 1790 and was family owned until 1993.

Sandeman was the first company to register a trademark, in 1877, and to export bottled and labeled product. It is famous for its advertising image, The Don.

Sandeman still grows and harvests its grapes by hand. Manual crushing has been replaced, however, by metal paddles engineered to replicate the pressure and action of feet. They “stomp” in a series if granite tanks, which drain into metal holding tanks.

The tanks are empty at the moment. The porto is transferred to Porto for aging. They are experimenting with aging on site, in an area with the required temperature and other requirements.

Our tour ended with a lovely lunch, including a rose wine made by the company.

As we were leaving, we passed some of the new vines.

The Douro River Valley is beautiful. I need to come back. Maybe a cruise up the river to visit the charming towns along the banks.

P.S. I wasn’t a big porto fan but I discovered white porto at dinner this evening.

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