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Tag Archives: Touriga Nacional

A Tour of Portugal in 5 Wines

Vast tapestries adorning the walls of grand buildings around London are not a rare sight. However, the one that greeted us as we arrived for a wine dinner with the Wines of Portugal was quite exceptional. Protruding from the top of the hanging carpet, in the same pattern of thick wool, was a massive moose head – unusual to say the least! This prepared us for the equally odd venue for the dinner – instead of an intimate private area adjacent to the main dining room at Nuno Mendes’ casual restaurant The Corner Room, we were led into what can best be described as a mini-parliament! It was in fact a council chamber, complete with dark wood panelling and tiered […]

Final Thoughts on the Douro and Portuguese Wine

From the moment I first visited Porto in the winter of 2003 I have been in love with this city. I’m not entirely sure what grabbed me, but whatever it was, it’s never let go. Sitting in my room at the Yeatman Hotel, overlooking the Douro river and the colorful hillside of Porto’s historic center, I feel incredibly fortunate to be here. The people are friendly and welcoming. The food is diverse and exciting. And the downtown is undergoing a revival, where new shops, restaurants and hotels are popping up like mushrooms after the fall rain, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Rain can be absolutely magical, especially when the river sparkles from little pitter-patters of gentle drops; but […]

Douro Wines and Portuguese Food: The Perfect Pairings

With the plentiful information we’ve provided about Port and Douro wines, and the beautiful area they originate from this November, hopefully you’re itching to put together the perfect wine trip to the Douro Valley. Lists of the wineries you’re dying to visit are being rapidly typed up. Maps are strewed across your kitchen table. And perhaps you’ve even stumbled upon the perfect location for your eno-tourism accommodation. The only element you may be missing is, what to eat on this fabulous whirlwind tour. Many are familiar with the dishes in your neck of the woods that pair well with Port and Douro wines, but probably few are knowledgeable ast to the types of traditional foods that the Portuguese (especially the Douro locals) like to […]

Spotlight on Douro Wine Producer: Quinta do Portal

There really is nothing in the world quite like heading to the Douro Valley and visiting the vast array of Douro and Port wine producers nestled across the steep terraced vineyards. Yet, it surprises me how so many of these producers won’t open their doors to the public, despite the increasing number of consumers eager to taste their wines before purchasing. For wine enthusiasts who want to make the most of their Douro trip, it’s important to know which wineries are welcome to the public year round instead of playing Russian Roulette. That being said, I’m happy to start you off with a winery you can count on: Quinta do Portal. Earlier this month, my parents and I visited their winery, without a prior appointment, and […]

Port Wine: The Pivotal Practice of Blending Indigenous Grape Varieties of the Douro Valley

They do it in Bordeaux. They do it in Champagne. They do it in many of the world’s best wine regions to enhance longevity and endurance. So what are all these classic and sophisticated regions doing to enhance their wares? Blending of course! Another revered style of wine, in line with Bordeaux and Champagne, that owes its character to the art and science of blending, is Port. Port is a fortified wine named after Portugal’s second largest city of Porto, from where the wine has been shipped for over 300 years – but most of us know it as the bottle that comes out once a year at Christmas! During a recent visit to the beautiful city of Oporto and […]

The Place Behind the Port: Diving into the Douro Valley

Do you remember as a kid in the playground, climbing to the top of a slide and looking down to the bottom, thinking how high up you were? Well, standing at the top of any of the near-vertical vineyards in Portugal’s Douro Valley is a similar sensation! The Douro Valley runs west to east, 70km inland from the coastal city of Porto, and sits along the winding Douro River. The scenery in the valley is some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen in a wine region. Not only because of the precipitous nature of the vineyards, which are striking in their own right, but also as you stand on the top of a vineyard and look around, you see […]

Douro: A Portuguese Region Sprinkled with Pixie Dust

Dreams can be silly. Not the kind that leave you befuddled in the morning, wondering if you’re awake or asleep, but the type that remain on your “maybe one day” wish list. I had a dream. From the moment I learned about how Port wine was made, I wanted to climb into the lagars and earn my “purple foot” badge. Today, I’m proud to say that I finally did it! Granted, it was the “tourist version”, sans the 3 hour stomp and the strict discipline in how we marched, but at least my friends and I on the #Douro12 tour did get sticky. Very sticky. Dreams are inherently different from reality. While we were visiting Quinta de Leda, part of […]

Portuguese Wine Pack to Entertain Family without Breaking the Bank

Despite Portugal being one of the smallest countries in southern-western Europe—about the size of the state of Indiana—it is blessed with contrasting terroirs and region-specific wine varietals that result in an abundance of wine and spirits offerings. Home to the Douro Valley, the oldest demarcated wine region in the world, Portugal’s long-standing tradition in wine-making coupled with modern efforts, has contributed to a lengthy list of quality drinking choices from the North to the South of the country and practically everywhere in between. You can expect everything from “Espumantes” and fortified wines, including the famous Port wines, to brandies and aged aguardentes (fiery water, if you will), and even Portuguese-only wines like the young fizzy “Vinho Verde” and “Vinho Verde […]

Please Name Me!! Newest Addition to the Catavino Family

Today, we would like to announce a brand new addition to the Catavino family. It has a crooked tail, large feet, black fur, piercing gray eyes and zero paw-eye coordination. And no, it’s not a troll, or an ewok (though that would be cool), or a spider monkey (on my future list however!). It’s 1 month old kitten. The kitten was found online and collected just north of Barcelona along a coastal frontage road in Mataro. The adoption process, albeit a bit sketchy, with me climbing into the back of a tinted black Volkswagon Passat where a plastic container of 4 kittens were tumbling among themselves in freaked out desperation, took all of 10 minutes. And although 3 of them […]

Choosing Your Top 50 Portuguese Wines?

Every year, ViniPortugal elects a UK journalist to choose their top 50 Portuguese wines. In 2010, our friend Sarah Ahmed created a fabulous list of wines and was followed up this year by an equally impressive list by Tom Cannavan.  A few days ago, the wines were announced in London at the Portuguese Ambassador’s Residence in Belgrave Square, and as much as we would have loved to attend, alas, we were celebrating from afar – but closer to the source! Not surprisingly, a healthy chunk of the wines are sourced from the Alentejo, Douro and Dao, but we’re elated to see a few stragglers sneak their way in from lesser known regions such as the Tejo, Algarve and Colares. Admittedly, […]