Tuesday, June 14, 2016
We started the day at breakfast with a treat from Robert -- a pastry that is a specialty of Coimbra - pastel de Tentugal, a flaky puff pastry with a sweet egg filling and a dusting of powdered sugar. Delicious.
We boarded the bus at 8:30 and headed for the Douro Valley.
Coming down from the mountains into the valley was truly picturesque. The hills are covered with terraced vineyards, each owned by a specific company, or Quinta.
Today we visited Quinta Sta Eufemia, another family-owned farm. Although it has been in the family for generations, it is now run by a sister (also the master taster), a brother, and a sister-in-law, who gave us the tour. (That's the farm in the background.)
We walked in their vineyards and were given an informative talk about the plants.
If we had come in September or October, we could have been part of this process.
Then she showed us the oak barrels where the wine is stored and the bottling facility.
Afterwards she gave us a crash course in how their port is made. Port is a medium sweet wine (20% alcohol). It is fortified with grape brandy, sometimes called "grappa" at a ratio of 4-1. The introduction of the brandy kills the yeast, halting the fermentation process, and leaving more sugar in the port. Port makers constantly monitor sugar levels to attain the sweetness they want. Port only ferments for 2-3 days (standard wines ferment 10-12 days) before aging in wood or bottles, anywhere from 2 years to longer than a century.
Following our tour, we were treated to wines and lunch on the farm.
Then back on the bus for the drive to our hotel in Pinhão, about an hour away. The scenery along the way continued to be beautiful.
We could see our hotel, The Vintage House Hotel on the right as we crossed the Douro River.
Tonight we had dinner at the hotel, which was incredibly elegant. We were wowed. Too bad it is only for one night.