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48 hours in Lisbon for Foodies

Posted by gen On August - 1 - 2013

Lisbon for Food Lovers, Cellar Tours recommendations:

lisbon farola 1 small

From small, family-owned restaurants offering delicious and inexpensive food to high-end cuisine, the capital of Portugal has enough options to satisfy even the most demanding of foodies. And although the Portuguese are known for sticking to their culinary traditions, Lisbon offers much more than the familiar staples of Bacalhau – salted cod – black pork and piri-piri.

cascais farol clams

So be prepared to banish your preconceptions of Portuguese cuisine in what is undoubtedly the country’s most exciting and vibrant food destination. A growing generation of young, talented chefs are taking Lisbon’s food traditions to new and exciting heights and are seriously intent on impressing you with their creativity. The city also has some of the best open-air food markets in Europe and in the summer months every conceivable type of fresh fruit, herbs, vegetables and spices perfume the air with their exotic aromas. The net result: Lisbon is a foodie paradise.

Day 1 in Lisbon

After arriving and checking into your hotel, head to the nearest terrace cafe and join the locals for a morning  Galão (a coffee served in a tall glass, made with 3/4 foamy milk and 1/4 Espresso) to get your bearings. Lisbon is spectacularly located on a hilly site on the estuary of the river Tagus – over the centuries the city has expanded along the coast to beautiful Belém, which was the starting point for Portugal’s voyages to the New World in the 15th century. Don´t miss the historic Pasteis de Belém bakery, a must. It´s just next to the stunning Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.

bele pàst

After breakfast, you’ll want to start your foodie tour in the historic center – the Baixa – which is a compact low-lying area of broad avenues and leafy squares. However, before entering one of Lisbon’s many excellent restaurants pay a visit to the Mercado da Ribeira near the Cais do Sodre train station outside the center. Open every day apart from Sundays, the market is best visited on Saturdays when the atmosphere is electric. Da Ribeira is famous for its fresh cheeses, seafood and spices. The second floor has been converted into a cultural center, showcasing Lisbon’s best locally produced food, pottery and handicrafts.

Lisboa mercado

By now you must be ravenous, so head to Cervejaria Ramiro on Avenida Almirante for the finest seafood Lisbon can offer. The city is a Mecca for fish lovers, although tourist traps abound so we’d advise you to stick to our suggestions. In fact per-capita consumption of fish in Portugal is some of the highest in the world! Local specialties include the ubiquitous Bacalhau, octopus, squid, grilled sardines, called sardines assadas, hake, sea bass, lobster, prawns, clams, oysters and scallops. Ramiro offers all of the above and does, at least in our opinion, the best lobster in Lisbon. In fact everything on the menu is fresh and cooked to perfection. Service is friendly and the place isn’t overrun with tourists. Great wine list too!

lisb cerv 2

We imagine that you’ll want to work off lunch before dinner, and there is no better place to take a stroll than the delightful Rua Augusta, one of the nicest pedestrianized boulevards in Lisbon. In the afternoon/early evening its hums with locals and tourists taking a stroll and browsing the area’s many old-fashioned shops and cafes.  It’s also not a bad place to take an aperitif, but for some of the best views over Lisbon take a taxi to the hotel Tivoli Lisboa, on Avenida Liberdade. Their rooftop bar is the perfect venue to start your evening sipping Alvarinho and admiring Lisbon’s handsome architecture. Drink prices are also reasonable considering what’s on offer.

Lisbon tivoli

To experience one or two of the finer points in high-end Portuguese cuisine, we can think of no better restaurant than Bocca on Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca. Head Chef Alexandre Silva only uses seasonal produce to craft exquisitely refined, modern interpretations of Portuguese cuisine. Highlights include the porcini, celeriac and white truffle salad, followed by suckling pig and tangerine. This venerable dish originates from the Bairrada region, where’s it known as Leitao a Bairrada and Silva prepares one of the best examples in Portugal. For dessert, you can’t go far wrong with Horta Doce or sweet garden which includes carrot pudding, caramelised pumpkin, crystallized tomato and chocolate. Maybe the most memorable dessert we have ever sampled in Europe.

Lisbon Bocca 1

Day 2 in Lisbon

Skip breakfast at your hotel and instead check out the popular Deli Delux on Avenida Infante in Lisbon’s port. It is one of Lisbon’s best food emporiums, packed with locals on a Sunday buying local delicacies and enjoying a leisurely brunch on the adjacent cafe terrace.  For under €14 you can enjoy divine scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and fresh asparagus when in season. Just be prepared to fight for a table between 11-1pm!

Lisboa del

Before you leave this beautiful city, make sure to visit the Praça do Comércio, Lisbon’s majestic square which was once the main maritime entrance to Lisbon and also the site where the city’s Palace was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755. The square’s north side is centered by a 19th century triumphal arch that leads to Rua Augusta. But, the real reason you came here is to experience Lisbon’s oldest cafe: Martinho da Arcada. Touristy but a must see, just have a coffee and enjoy the atmosphere.

For a late lunch, it’s worth the effort to travel out toward O Faroleiro in Cascais- about 30 kilometers west of Lisbon – for the best beach-side dining in Portugal. The restaurant is literally right on the beach and the views of the Atlantic are dreamy. However, O Faroleiro doesn’t just relax and let the views do all the work, the fresh fish and seafood are divine too – try the clams! The service is bright and breezy and although this piece of seaside gastronomic heaven does not come cheap, it’s so worth it.

cascais farol

Options before dinner? Well, you could hang out on Cascais’ lovely clean beach or continue sipping wine on O Faroleiros terrace until you head back to Lisbon for dinner. But we’d recommend taking the train back and escaping the worst of the afternoon heat in the beautiful Botanical Gardens on Rua da Escola Politennica. Relax in the shaded walkways which are surrounded by over 10,000 species of trees and plants. It’s time to plan your last meal!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So as it’s sadly your last evening, you must try Solar dos Presuntos on will add later for a taste of delicious Portuguese home cooking and extra friendly, family-run service. The restaurant has been open for a long time and serves a loyal clientele specialties from northern Portugal while offering a large selection of vinho verdes by the bottle or glass. It’s what Lisbon does best: honest, wholesome and tasty cooking at very attractive prices.

Come back again on a wine tour of Lisbon, perhaps trying your hand at a Portuguese cooking class in nearby Cascais....  Bom Proveito!

For great food reviews also check out the fun Menina e Moça site and Lisbon Lux is a fabulous resource.

Lisboa baixa

Cheese lovers guide to Portugal

Posted by gen On February - 27 - 2013

Portuguese Cheese Guide

Although Portugal’s most famous contribution to food and drink is undoubtedly Port wine, its superb range of artisan cheeses, with their lengthy pedigree and traditions are equally a worthy addition to any gourmet’s household. And while most visitors to this beautiful and historic country may well only bring home a bottle or two of Port, or possibly a table wine from the famed Alentejo region, they would do well to perhaps remember the delicious cheeses from the Serra de Estrela Mountains or the pungent Serpa cheese from southern Portugal. Indeed, although countries like France and Italy have a stronger association with high-quality cheese production, you would do well to explore what Portugal can offer you. It may have some nice surprises in store.

azores

Portugal, like most Western European countries has a long and (very!) proud tradition of cheese making that has not evolved significantly over the centuries. The equipment and technology may have been modernized in some parts of the country, but the care and craftsmanship has remained the same. Today, there are broadly 15 distinct styles of Portuguese cheese, with the vast majority protected under appellation law. The appellation designation (Denominação de Origem Protegida) strictly regulates the production methods, the length of aging, origin of production and labeling. That said it would be a mistake to discard other regional cheeses that may not have an appellation certification, but can be just as delicious and often offer better value! However, the cheese that visitors are initially most likely to encounter is the Queijo Flamengo, a direct copy of the famous Dutch Edam and ubiquitous in supermarkets and cafes across Portugal. It’s filling and cheap but has little to recommend in high-end culinary terms.

But in contrast, the celebrated soft cheeses from the Serra de Estrela Mountains in the Beiras region are considered amongst the finest in Portugal. It is usually made from the sheep’s milk of two native species indigenous to the area, although it can be produced from sheep’s and goat’s milk outside the appellation framework. Its taste is unsurpassed, smooth, rich and creamy with a beautifully balanced flavor. It is not dissimilar to Brie in its texture and pungency. Another favorite is the DOP Azeitão, from the Estremadura region in western Portugal. It can only be produced from raw sheep’s milk in the aforementioned town of Azeitao, although good examples again outside the DOP are made in the neighboring towns of Setubal and Palmela. The smooth, creamy cheese is made using thistle flowers, rather than sheep stomach lining to coagulate the milk and has an intense, earthy flavor and pungent aroma. Not a cheese for the faint-hearted!

queso portgs

Southern Portugal is also a good place to go hunting for excellent, regional cheeses. Perhaps start with a hard cheese from the city of Evora, the Alentejo regions’ most beautiful and charming town. Evora cheeses are made from un-pasteurised sheep’s milk and have a wonderful salty flavor. Or try the excellent Nisa Cheese from the higher regions of Alentejo. A similar hard cheese, however, Nisa has a less intense earthier flavour than Evora, with notes of herb and vegetable. Another extremely popular cheese is the celebrated Serpa from southern Alentejo. Again this is produced from sheep’s milk and is subject to at least two years aging in cool Alentejo cellars. The consistency can vary greatly and the rind is seasoned with paprika and olive oil, this results in the cheese having a strong spicy taste and aroma.  It has been recognized by food critics worldwide as one of the finest and unique European cheeses; the Slow Food Movement regularly list it as one of their top ten cheeses in the world.

Moving into northern Portugal we encounter the fabulous soft Terrincho Cheese from the Tras-os-Montes region that bounders Galicia in Spain. It can only be produced from a breed of sheep native to the area; the Churra da Terra Quente gives the cheese a mild, easily palatable flavour, enhanced by paprika and the curing process, which uses rye. The DOP cheeses of Bragança and Vila Real are also justly celebrated; under the appellation guidelines the Cabra Transmontano cheese must come from a special breed of goat – Serrana Negra – and be matured for a minimum of 60 days. The resulting product is fantastic, a hard cheese with a precise, slightly spicy bouquet and piquant taste.

chs

You will also want to look out for the (a nightmare to pronounce but delicious to taste!) – Amarelo da Beira Baixa and the Rabacal cheeses from the Beira region. Amarelo is produced from raw sheep and goat’s milk; the aging process can last up to 90 days or longer. The cheese is extremely smooth and creamy, with a pungent aroma married to a silky texture, the saltiness just taking the edge off the creaminess. A cheese perfect for the after-dinner course that deserves a powerful white wine. Rabacal is a semi hard cheese that can either be made exclusively from sheep’s milk or a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk, and must be matured for a minimum period of 20 days.

At this point you may think that mainland Portugal has the monopoly on fine cheese production but this is not so: the unspoiled, idyllic volcanic islands of the Azores in the North Atlantic are home to two DOP cheeses. Both are named after their respective islands – Pico and São Jorge – and are excellent cheeses to rival the best from the mainland. Pico, a delicious soft cheese with a strong aroma can be made from cows’ milk or a mixture of cows’ and goat’s, whilst the hard São Jorge cheese must be 100% cows’ milk and is aged for a minimum of 30 days. It is still one of Portugal’s largest and finest cheeses, with an intense fiery flavor, crumbly texture and fine aroma.

Of course the above is merely a snapshot of the most important DOP Cheeses and you can find many more exciting examples that are exempt from the DOP framework. Take Vila Velha for example, which is made in the Beiras region. It is a similar cheese to Amarelo da Beira Baixa, but because it does not have DOP protection it is significantly cheaper and more accessible but every bit as delicious. But whatever your preferences, be it hard and pungent or soft and velvety cheese, you are bound to find something you love in Portugal’s rich traditions of cheese making.

azeitao

Below are some important Portuguese cheese terms to remember when purchasing:

Cabra: goat

Curado: Aged

Duro: Hard

Leite: Milk

Ovelha: Sheep

Queijo: Cheese

Vaca: Cow

Portuguese food and wine terms

Food and wine lovers tours of Portugal

Buying Portuguese cheeses

The ideal place to buy Portuguese cheese is naturally the country itself, where the best selection and value can be found. However, most major supermarkets, specialist delis and food retailers will stock at least some Portuguese cheeses across Europe and the US, in addition the following online retailers are worth a look:  Alive Taste, Artisanal Cheese, Atlantico, IGourmet

queijo lagos

Best Luxury Beach Resorts in Europe this Summer

Posted by gen On July - 16 - 2010

It´s sizzling this summer in Europe and a few days on the coast are definitely in order! Some suggestions for luxury coastal hotels  by country:

FRANCE

chateau_eza 1

Château Eza- Eze: The ultimate French Riviera hideaway. Think lifestyles of the rich and famous, this charming medieval hamlet spills over a clifftop overlooking the Med. The small luxury hotel has a Michelin starred restaurant and Birdseye views over the sparkling sea.

best beach resorts in Europe

Hôtel du Cap Eden Roc – Antibes:  this hotels attracts the most beautiful, chic and rich jetsetters in Europe. Gorgeous setting.

best beach resorts in Europe

Le Mas de Langoustier – Porquerolles: Less bling bling than the Riviera, Porquerolles island in a natural paradise and has sublime views and a stay here is about the setting and the sea.

luxury sea side resorts Europe

Hotel du Palais- Biarritz:  The ultimate aristocrats playground. The Duchess of Alba is said to take a suite here for a month every year, and Russian aristocrats have been so enamored of this resort they built a Russian orthodox church across the street! Biarritz is located in the beautiful French Pays Basque, a hop skip and a jump from Spain´s gourmet Basquelands.  A stay here could pair well with some time in the Bordeaux wine county, or indeed in San Sebastian across the border.

GREECE

Best beach hotels Europe

Elounda Beach Hotel- Crete: wow, this is an amazing place located on Crete´s northeastern coastline. Highlights include the dramatic location, Chenot spa, and those sea view rooms..

ITALY

best beach resorts in Europe

Il San Pietro – Positano, Amalfi Coast: Few hotels can compete with San Pietro in Italy in terms of location and luxury. Located in the dreamy village of Positano, this hotel is a great base for exploring Campania. Must sees and dos include Ravello, Furore, a meal at Don Alfonso 1890, wine tasting in Irpinia, pizza in Naples, Pompeii…featured in our luxury tours of Amalfi Coast.

best beach resorts in Europe

La Plage resort – Sicily: Spectacular location in Sicily´s prettiest corner, Taormina. Really a collection of villas, tastefully tucked into lush gardens, this is a terrific choice for a few days by the sea. While in Taormina, don´t miss the Ancient Greek theatre and wine tasting near Mount Etna.

Best luxury beach resorts Europe

Il Pellicano – Maremma, Tuscany: stylish resort in southern Tuscany, attracting a real “it” crowd.   If you can peel yourself away from the pool scene, why not enjoy a luxury wine tour of the local Super Tuscans?

best beach resorts in Europe

Fortino Napoleonico – Marche: beautiful setting in undiscovered Marche, coined the “new Tuscany” by the New York Times. Unspoiled, amazing food here and dreamy scenery.

PORTUGAL

Best luxury beach resorts Europe

Vila Vita- Algarve: Moorish inspired design and resort is spread over 50 hectares of gardens and with inviting sea views. The kind of resort where if you want to stay in a cocoon, you have everything you need on site- various restaurants, spa, pools, etc. Tips in fine dining in the area here.

SPAIN

Luxury beach resorts Europe

La Gavina- north of Barcelona, you´ll find this graceful resort in an unspoiled section of the Costa Brava. White and airy, it has a 1920′s feel. Romantic outdoor restaurant with candlelight and piano… while in the Costa Brava, explore the Emporda wine country.

luxury beach resorts Europe

Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa – Marbella:  a resort for those looking for golf and sun y basta. It does golf and sun, and does them well :) If you have a craving for culture and a bit of real Spain, drive up to Ronda, a beautiful village with a terrific restaurant, Tragabuches.

Best of Portugal: See, Eat, Do- Ten Ideas

Posted by gen On January - 23 - 2010

Portugal is one of Europe’s genuine hidden gems, known more to Port wine lovers then to general tourists-at-large. But there is so much to see and do in this beautiful country!

Let us share some tips on ten things you must not miss on your trip to Portugal:

1. Port Wine Lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia- history, romance and stunning wines on offer just across the river in Oporto. While in Oporto don’t miss the Lello bookshop, Foz Velha restaurant and amazing Arabic room at the Stock Exchange.

Best of Portugal

2. The magnificent Douro Valley- one of Europe’s most untouched and achingly beautiful vineyard landscapes. The region is also home to world class estates such as Quinta do Crasto. Stay at the trendy and luxurious Aquapura and pamper yourself with Zen style spa treatments between the wine tasting tours.

Best of Portugal

3. Pena Palace in Sintra- a touristy town, but like Venice it is still DEFINITELY well worth the visit as just delightful. This palace is outrageous and beautiful. And the town is a true delight. Stay at the Penha Longa where stylish Catalan chef Sergi Arola is the consulting chef in charge. And go gourmet shopping at the Loja do Vinho.

Best of Portugal

4. The creepy Bones Chapel (Capela dos Ossos) in Unesco heritage town of Évora- wonderful town and strange but fascinating visit. This picturesque town is a must and if you had the time, we would stay at least 2 days to see it. Stay at the gorgeous Convento Espinheiro (a luxury Starwood property in a renovated convent).

Best of Portugal

5. A Fado performance in Lisbon- Portugal’s version of the blues. Singers Mariza and Misia have brought Fado to international audiences and Lisbon is full of intimate Fado venues (Cafe Luso, Clube do Fado, etc) where you can see charming live concerts over dinner and/or drinks. Interested in learning more about this unique musical style? Check out the Fado museum, also in Lisbon.

Best of Portugal

6.  Whale watching in the atmospheric Azores Islands- one of those “must do in a  lifetime” experiences- captivating and exhilarating.

Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, with open mouth,  Pico Island, Azores, Portugal, Atlantic Ocean
Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, with open mouth, Pico Island, Azores, Portugal, Atlantic Ocean

7. Alentejo wine country- personally, our favorite region in Portugal, if not Iberia. Expansive views reminiscent of the Sahara, punctuated by Arabic castles, cork forests and perfectly preserved characterful villages- oh, and some GORGEOUS wines.  The Alentejo is a very special place.

Best of Portugal

8. Pork and Clams (Porco com amêijoas)- sounds awful but it is a delicious regional dish to seek out, originating in the Alentejo. Recipe here.

chefemario.blogspot.com

chefemario.blogspot.com

9. Nazaré- authentic fishing village surprisingly unspoiled, and home to some of the simplest and freshest fish in the country. The best way to enjoy it is a simple lunch at one of the unpretentious beach shacks with ice cold vinho verde or even a chilled rosé. A nice break too, from the ubiquitous Salt Cod.

Best of Portugal

10. Batalha Monastery- Henry the Navigator is entombed in this spectacular, unfinished monastery, one of the loveliest in Europe. Nice place to stop while driving between Lisbon and Oporto, too.

Best of Portugal

Keeping things light:

Here are some of our suggestions for the weirdest and wackiest museums in Europe.

Enjoy this silly list, and feel free to send us your tips for weird museums or tourist attractions you have encountered while travelling in Europe-

1. Museum of Sewers, Paris

Weirdest Museums in Europe

Info

2. Stockfish museum, Norway

Weirdest museums in Europe

Info

3. Phallus Museum in Iceland- seriously…

Weirdest museums in Europe

Info

4. Medieval Torture and Crime museum in San Gimignano, Italy

Weird museums Europe

Info

5. The Fan Museum, England

Fan Museum, England

Info

6. Moscow Cat Museum

Weird museums Europe

Info

7. The German Leather Museum

Weird museums Europe

Info

8. Bandit Museum, Ronda, Spain

Fun museums Europe

Info

9. Witchcraft Museum, England

Weird museums Europe

Info

10. Erotic Museum Amsterdam

Weird museums Europe

Info

Unique Marriage Proposal Ideas

Are you thinking of popping the question and just can’t think of where to do it or how to make it special?

Do you want to organize the time of her life and cherish the memories of your proposal day forever?

Are you looking for a unique, incomparable, ultra romantic and creative wedding proposal idea?

Well, you have come to the right place! We are incorrigible romantics and have a few ideas that are sure to make her so impressed, she will say “yes”:

1). VERONA, ITALY- ROMEO & JULIET

Verona wedding proposal

Spend a night in one of the most romantic historic hotels in Italy- in the courtyard of Juliet’s house in Verona, booking the room “Il Cuore” at the magical “Il Sogno di Giulietta”, overlooking Juliet’s courtyard and balcony. In the morning, go out to your private terrace for a champagne breakfast where she will see a medieval style banner hanging from Juliet’s balcony, saying “Will you marry me?”. Below, a private serenade with local musicians will be the final coup de grace!

Verona wedding proposal

2). BARCELONA , SPAIN- JEEP RIDE THROUGH THE VINES & PICNIC

Wedding proposal ideas

Your Mercedes will pick you up at your hotel in Barcelona and sweep you away to the Penedès wine country, about an hour south. Upon arrival to the wine estate, meet your charming hosts and hop into the jeep to tour the beautiful vineyards. Stop at a the 13th century hermitage on the property, at the hill´s summit and a romantic picnic will be set up for you. When the Cava bottle is popped, you can pop the question while looking out at the vast vineyards and Mediterranean sea in the distance. Follow with a private tour of the estate and celebrate with a glass of their excellent “Honeymoon”, an interesting single varietal wine, made with 100% Parellada, an aromatic Catalan grape.

3). DOURO VALLEY, PORTUGAL- WINE CRUISE

Wedding proposal ideas

If you or your partner are port wine lovers, there is no better place to spend this special day than in the breathtaking Douro Valley. Stay at the luxury spa hotel Aquapura and about an hour before sunset take a private Rabelo cruise on the Douro River. These are replica Vintage boats traditionally used to carry the wine down the river from Douro to the lodges in Oporto. Sip chilled white port while taking in the views of the vineyards and colonial style Quintas. On one of them, a banner with “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” will be displayed when the boat passes by. When you get back to the hotel, rose petals will have been spread around your hotel room, and a bottle of bubbly awaits…

Wedding proposal ideas

4). MADRID, SPAIN- WINE, ART AND ROMANCE

Marriage Proposal Wine and Art

For art and wine lovers, Madrid is an interesting destination. Begin the morning with a private guided tour of the outstanding Prado museum with a focus on wine throughout the ages and in art.  To follow, enjoy a supremely entertaining private wine tasting masterclass in a 19th century refined building with exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable hosts. Among the bottles lined on the table, one will have a custom made label saying  “Will you marry me?” Your celebratory toast will be with the stunning Krpta cava.

Marriage Proposal Wine and Art

5). VENICE, ITALY-PRIVATE COOK´S TOUR AND SUNSET GONDOLA

Marriage Proposals in Europe

No woman can resist a man who cooks. So, why not organize a market tour and a private cooking class for the two of you as part of your vacation in Italy. Venice is the ultimate romantic destination and you can spend a day taking in a Rialto market tour with gourmet tastings and learn how to cook the perfect Italian meal!  After the lunch with your private and charming chef, tasting your own creations, you will get a diploma. On your girlfriend’s one, it will read “Will you marry me?. Finish this unforgettable day with a gondola ride at sunset with bubbles on board!

Marriage Proposals in Europe

6). TUSCANY, ITALY- HOT AIR BALLOON AT SUNRISE

Marriage Proposals in Europe

As a day excursion from Florence to Siena, head to the Chianti wine country at dawn and watch the spectacular colors of the early morning over the olive groves and medieval villages as you float over this fairy tale land on your own private hot air balloon. When your champagne toast is served on board,  a note will accompany the tray saying “Say yes and let´s have a reason to celebrate, marry me!” When you land, your driver will be waiting and you´ll spend a day in the wine country including an incredible Michelin starred lunch in a 14th century hamlet.

Marriage Proposals in Europe

7). BORDEAUX, FRANCE- SUNSET PROPOSAL AT TOP CHATEAU

Unique marriage proposal ideas

Spend a night at a gorgeous Chateau in Bordeaux´s left bank on the “Chateaux Route”, taking in a private dinner in the historic dining room. At sunset, go for a walk on the manicured grounds, and as you are served your aperitif by elegant waiter, the box for the ring will be presented with the wine along with a single rose. Voilà, the perfect moment to propose.

8). CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE-TOAST IN THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE WORLD´S BEST BUBBLY

Unique marriage proposal ideas

Take a day tour to Champagne from Paris. After a morning of wine tasting, enjoy a gourmet aphrodisiac´s lunch on a private terrace facing the vineyards. Your waiter will be working with you on this, now when you select the wine, he will come back with a magnum bottle of champagne. On it your fiancée´s name will be painted on it, along with the message of your choice. A variation of the champagne theme can be a private “sabrage” in a champagne cave like at the beautiful Pommery cellar, where you will have the perfect private moment to propose.

Marriage Proposals in Europe

9). PRIORAT, SPAIN- HELICOPTER WEDDING PROPOSAL AND WINE TASTING

Unique marriage proposal ideas

If money is no object and you want to have the experience of a lifetime, spend a day visiting a top Priorat vineyard Costers del Siurana by private helicopter from Barcelona. When you arrive to the wine estate the owner himself will board the helicopter with you and you´ll get expert commentary on this gorgeous region with its terraced vineyards from the air. Land again and cruise the vineyards by landrover before carrying on to a vertical tasting of top vintages at the winery. An 8 course gourmet feast is next, each course paired with estate wines. When things can´t get any better, the dessert will be presented, with the ring inside the tart. Absolutely fantastic way to propose.

10). ROSS CASTLE, IRELAND- PRIVATE BOAT AND PROPOSAL IN MYSTICAL LAKE

Unique marriage proposal ideas

Your driver and vintage Rolls Royce will collect you at your hotel in Ireland´s Kerry or Cork regions and you´ll travel through idyllic landscapes to the ethereal Killarney lakes. Board a private boat at Ross Castle, and once you have sailed tot he middle of the lake, your gourmet picnic basket will be presented. Smoked organic salmon, artisan Irish cheeses, homemade Gubbeen oatcakes and of course a chilled bottle of champagne will be included. Present your lover with an Irish Claddagh ring as the engagement ring…

Ireland wedding proposals

More great ideas of how to pop the question:

* Treasure Hunt in a Castle

* Horsedrawn Carriage Proposal

* Horseback riding at sunset through the vineyards

* Private dinner in a vineyard

* Venetian Carnival and Masquerade Dance Proposal

More info: Cellar Tours offer fabulous custom designed marriage proposal tours

Marriage Proposals in Europe

People always ask us “when is the best time to come to the wine country” (in Europe where we work) and the answer we always give is: May or June for good weather and less crowds and of course September and October during the harvest time. Often however, those months might not correspond to the vacation time available to you!

Best time to visit the wine country

Not to worry, here is a list of suggestions of great regions to visit month by month, to give you inspiration when planning your wine tour in Europe:

January: Sicily

Best time to visit the wine country in Europe- January, Sicily

Enjoy the ski slopes of Etna one day and the beach the next! Sicily is a great destination in winter and offers varied landscapes, stunning wines (we love Donnafugata, Planeta, Tasca d´Almerita and more) and a fascinating architectural mix from Moorish to Norman, medieval to Spanish. Visit Taormina, Etna wine country, Siracusa, Ragusa, Cerasulo di Vittoria wine country, Marsala wine country, the salt mounds near Trapani and the unique city of Palermo.

February: Alentejo

Best time to visit the wine country in Europe- February, Alentejo

We´ve mentioned Alentejo before, as being a good option for a winter wine tour and say it again! While temperatures can certainly be crisp and bracingly cold, the sun is almost always shining in the Alentejo in winter, the rich red wines will warm you up and there are virtually no crowds. The landscapes are monumental, with noble cork forests, Arabic castles and vast vineyard-covered hills punctuated by white and yellow Quintas. Stay at the fabulous Convento do Espinheiro near Évora and spend a few days relaxing in this simply delightful, unspoiled wine region.

March: Campania

Best time to visit the wine country in Europe- March, Campania

La Bella Campania- what a wonderful region to visit in Spring! The Amalfi Coast and Capri are flourishing with wild flowers, the sun is shining and the oppressive summer crowds have not arrived. Naples is one of the most interesting cities in Italy, and home of the Vera Pizza and our favorite Archeological Museum in the world (with 99% of the collection of mosaics from Pompeii). The wine country is extensive and varied here, here is a list of tips on top cellars and places to stay, things to do, etc.

April:Jerez (Sherry)

Best time to visit the wine country in Europe- April, Sherry

Andalucía (Southern Spain) is alive with local fiestas and celebrations in April and also a great time to visit Jerez, in the heart of the Sherry wine country. Many bodegas (wine cellars) are located right downtown and it is one of the few wine regions in Spain that you can visit without a car. The Sherry wines are delicious, varied and completely and utterly undervalued. Taste a slightly chilled Amontillado while sitting in a flower covered Andalusian “patio” and nibble on juicy olives and panfried almonds… oh, and don´t forget the relaxing sounds of the Spanish Flamenco guitar, olé! Seville is also a short one hour train ride away. Tips on a great place to stay in Jerez here.

May: Bordeaux

Best place to visit the wine country in May- Bordeaux

Bordeaux is the perennial wine destination in Europe and often a “first” wine tour for wine enthusiasts. It is pretty much a wine lovers dream. The city itself is handsome and sophisticated, kind of a mini Paris, with a wide array of sights, fine hotels, wine bars, wine shops, and gourmet restaurants. It´s also on the door step of some of the most famous wine appellations in the world (whose “Chateaux” are often gorgeous)- Saint Emilion (also one of the prettiest villages in the region), Pomerol, Médoc, Margaux, Pauillac, Saint Julien, Sauternes, the list goes on. You can easily spend a week to 10 days visiting the wine country surrounding Bordeaux, town, and even combine a tour to Cognac (to the north) or Armagnac (to the south). If time permits, spend some time in neighboring Dordogne, one of the most breathtaking regions in Europe.

June: Douro Valley

Best place to visit the wine country in June- Douro Valley

For years this dramatically beautiful wine region was a best kept secret, known only to the Portuguese themselves, port fanatics and wine professionals. However, the luxurious Aquapura hotel opening and the New York Times article that followed (in 2007), has put the Douro Valley firmly on the radar for both casual and serious wine lovers. Expect  to find striking scenery, vintage ports, spectacular dry reds (and some dry whites), and a small but fantastic collection of hotels and restaurants, enough to easily satisfy you on a long weekend or even a week long tour if combined with the historic port lodges of Vilanova, across from Oporto. Take a private Rabelo cruise on the Douro and let the soothing landscapes glide by while sipping on chilled white port….

July: Rioja

Best place to visit the wine country in July- Rioja

Another region that was a well known secret for years, is La Rioja. And funny enough, it was also the launch of a luxury hotel (designed by Frank Gehry at the Marqués de Riscal wine estate) that garnished world attention on it. Rioja is always a delight to visit, but we quite like it in summer as temperatures are sunny and warm, the vineyards are lush and green, and you can combine a few days wine tasting here with a few days at the beach in beautiful San Sebastian (gourmet mecca, about 90 minutes north). Haro is home to some of the most historic “chateau” style wineries like Muga, Lopez de Heredia and Cune, all of which offer scheduled tours in English. If visiting Haro don´t miss lunch at Las Duelas, one of our faves. For something more exclusive, go on a private wine tour to cult estates like Roda and Remirez de Ganuza. Here are some other winery tips from a recent trip here this year.

August: Penedès

Best wine region to visit in August in Europe- Penedes

Again, we like the Penedès in the summer as you can combine a few days in the wine country (staying at Can Bonastre, but of course), with a few days at the beach (while closer to the Costa Daurada, that coastline is over exploited so we recommend the beaches of the Costa Brava such as Aiguablava and Sa Tuna). Located just under an hour from Barcelona (so a viable day trip), Penedès is the home of Spain´s sparkling “Cava”, as well as a host of red and white wines from such famed producers as Miguel Torres and Jean Leon, and high end estates like Pares Balta.  The famous Cava producers Freixenet and Codorniu open up daily for tours. There are some great restaurants in this region including Can Bonastre´s Tribia for high end, and Cal Xim for an authentic winemaker´s haunt. And for something unique, visit the ultra charming owners at Augustus Forum, making the best vinegars in Spain!

September: Tuscany

Best place to visit the wine country in September- Tuscany

Mama mia, Tuscany is a place you should visit at least once in your life! The splendid art cities of Siena, Lucca and Florence; the medieval villages of San Gimignano and Volterra; adorable hamlets like Monterriggioni,  San Miniato and Radda in Chianti are treats on the eye. And the fine wines of Chianti, Montalcino (Brunello), Maremma (Super Tuscans), Montepulciano (Vino Nobile) and countless smaller appellations, are what will attract you wine lovers. Tuscany is beautiful any month of the year, but September is a wonderful time to visit as the vineyards are beautiful and there is excitement in the air in the wine villages with the starting of the harvest.  Chianti is the region most established for wine tourism and many estates open up for general tours. For something more luxurious and private, take a chauffeured tour of the region on a grand tour or enjoy day trips from Tuscany´s main cities.

October: Piedmont

Best wine region to visit in October in Europe- Piedmont

October is the start of the white truffle season in Piedmont (and the truffle festival in Alba) and the ideal month to visit this gourmet wine region. The landscapes of the Langhe in October are probably some of the most picturesque and beautiful we have ever seen.The restaurants, some of the best in Italy (and this is saying a LOT!), all feature special truffle menus in autumn and a foodie tour here is an epicure´s wish come true. Piedmont is also home to the Slow Food movement (founded in the amusingly named town of “Bra”). Wine lovers flock here as the mythical Barolo is produced here, as well as Barbaresco and Gavi. There are a few luxury hotels and upmarket inns, and between wine tasting (we love Roagna, Massolino and Braida for its Barbera) , cheese tasting, truffle hunting and/tasting, and fine dining, you can easily spend a week of gourmet bliss in Piedmont.

November: Burgundy

Best wine region to visit in November in Europe- Burgundy

Bourgogne, Burgundy, is another region equally delicious! And November is a wonderful time to visit as the autumn colors on the vineyards are marvelous and the chill in the air is perfect to enjoy the region´s sublime red wines from Cote de  Nuits, Gevrey -Chambertain, Volnay, Pommard and of course Vosne-Romanée. Burgundy´s white wines are also world famous and you can taste them in their birthplace here in Meursault, Chablis, Puligny -Montrachet, etc. Your base could be in beautiful Beaune or in Dijon (yes, the home of Dijon mustard) or in any of the countless little wine villages in between. Noyers, Buxyand Vézelay are particularly delightful. Some highlights of Burgundy include the Abbey of Cluny; the spectacular Romanesque church of Vézelay; the Abbey of Fontenay; the network of canals (you can enjoy wine tours on Barges) and the pristine scenery; the pretty Chateau Meursault and Chateau of Bussy-Rabutin; the Clos de Vougeot; and of course the hundreds of wineries. And if time permits, you could also do a combo Burgundy and Champagne tour!

December: Alsace

Best wine region to visit in December in Europe- Alsace

Alsace is the quintessential winter destination with its charming Christmas markets and fairy tale villages. It feels German at the same time as it feels French and in fact has belonged to both countries. One of the main dishes here is Sauerkraut! The region´s neat vineyards, villages and farms are nestled in between the Vosges mountains to the west and the Rhine river to the east. While a microscopic amount of red wine is made here, Alsace is famous for its voluptuous and spicy white wines, perfect winter whites in fact. Stay in the darling village of Riquewihr and enjoy wine tasting at the numerous cellars located along the 38 vineyard trails on the designated “Route de Vin“. Top wines to look out for incude Marcel Deiss, Zind- Humbrecht, Trimbach, and Weinbach.

Do you have any suggestions for our readers of  wine regions and when?

Fun Food, Wine and Travel Quiz

Posted by gen On May - 19 - 2009

Food, wine and travel quiz

Do you love all things food, wine and travel? Are you a wine expert, culinary whiz or geography nerd like us? Every month you can test your knowledge on our fun new quiz, check it out here:

Work those little brain cells and see if you can guess things like :

* Where is the Txakoli wine region located?

* Where is the birthplace of Pesto?

* What is the most expensive Italian ham?

* Which European country consumes the highest amount of fish and seafood?

* Which Northern Italian celebrity winemaker is famous for using Roman Amphora now?

* and many more, 10 each month to be precise!

By playing the quiz you are entered into a monthly contest to wine a prize, as well as an annual grand prize, it pays to play :)

Food, wine and travel quiz

Any time of the year is a good time to visit the wine country when it comes to drinking nice wines! But winter can be the most challenging season to visit as vineyards are dormant and bare (not lush and verdant, as in other times of the year), and many of Europe´s wine regions are covered in overcast and bleak skies. There are a few regions however that are just fabulous to visit in winter, and here are some nice ideas for wine lovers looking for that unforgettable winter wine tasting escape:

Winter wine tastings

Alentejo, Portugal

The Alentejo is without a doubt one of our favorite wine regions in Europe. This unspoiled and breathtaking region features soft, rolling hills studded with cork trees and Moorish castles and is spotted with colonial style wine “quintas”. The scenery in Alentejo is reminiscent of the romantic savannas of “Out of Africa” and in winter, you can expect bright blue skies and invigorating cold weather. For a winter wine tasting break we suggest you use the Unesco heritage town of Évora as a base, visit a few wineries and enjoy some long leisurely wine lunches in cozy restaurants with open fireplaces.

Wineries to visit: Esporão, Monte Seis Reis, Herdade da Malhadinha are all favorites and can provide (paying) tours and tastings if you contact them beforehand to set up the appointments.

Alentejo winery consortium:Vinhos do Alentejo feature all kinds of wine region info on their website for self-drive trips (in Portuguese).

Where to stay: Our favorite hotel is definitely the romantic and luxurious Convento do Espinheiro, just outside Évora.

More Info on the Alentejo wine region

Luxury chauffeured wine weekends in Alentejo

Alentejo wine region in winterAlentejo wine region in winterAlentejo wine region in winter

Sherry Country, Spain

Jerez de la Frontera, the main wine town in the “Sherry lands” is a truly delightful little provincial capital. The benefit here is that the wineries are right in the historic center so you don´t need to drive and you can taste as many wines as you like! Most are in walking distance of each other through the pleasant center. Sherry wines are varied (finos, amontillados, palo cortados, and more) and quite strong, perfect on a sunny and cold winter´s day. The ideal winter wine weekend in Jerez would include winery tours, an excursion to beautiful Seville (one hour by train), and a lunch at La Mesa Redonda.

Wineries to visit: Sandeman (our favorite for private VIP tours), Pedro Domecq, Bodegas Tradición, Emilio Lustau, González Byass (Tio Pepe)

Sherry winery consortium: Consejo Regulador Denominacion De Origen Jerez Xerez Sherry

Where to stay: Our favorite hotel in Jerez is the Palacio de Garvey (which made it to our top ten wine hotels in Spain hotlist). The Villa Jerez is another refined little hotel, out of the center in a more residential neighborhood.

More Info on the Sherry wine region

Info on luxurious wine weekends in Seville and Jerez

Winter wine tastings

Valtellina, Italy

The ultimate winter wine escape, Valtellina offers sunny blue skies, fluffy snowy mountains in winter and phenomenal red wines made with the Chiavennasca grape (cousin of Barolo´s Nebbiolo grape). The region is alpine, near the Swiss border and the perfect winter wine weekend could include winery visits and tastings, an excursion to pretty St Moritz (on the Swiss side) and an excursion by horse-drawn sled through the snow. The cuisine is FABULOUS, real mountain food and it perfectly accompanies the rich, velvety “Sforzato” wines.

Wineries to visit: None of the wineries have regular scheduled tours, so you will need to contact them individually to request a (paying) visit and tasting. We particularly love Nino Negri, Triacca, Rainoldi and Conti Sertoli Salis.

Valtellina winery consortium: Consorzio Vini Valtellini have information on the region, wineries and travel tips.

Where to stay: There are some wonderful spa hotels, perfect in winter. We love the Bagni di Bormio, a real destination hotel with wonderful soothing spa treatments and natural springs.

More Info on the Valtellina wine region

We organize luxurious chauffeured wine tasting weekends in Valtellina, more info here.

Valtellina wine region for winter escapes Valtellina wine region for winter escapes

Portugal Michelin Starred Restaurants 2009

Posted by gen On January - 5 - 2009

michelin_star_algarve

The mythical Michelin restaurant guide for 2009 has come out and some of Portugal´s finest restaurants are thanking their lucky (Michelin) stars. Here is a quick summary:

NORTHERN PORTUGAL- MICHELIN STARRED RESTAURANTS

Casa Calçada (Amarante)- this restaurant is located inside a fabulous little boutique hotel in the pretty riverside hamlet of Amarante, about 60km (50 minutes drive) east of Oporto . Worth spending dinner and at least one night here, the Casa Calçada is also in easy reach of the Douro Valley wine country. More info.

Arcadas da Capela, Quinta das Lágrimas (Coimbra)- elegant small restaurant at the refined Quinta das Lágrimas resort, this is a major destination for foodies. Again, the best way to enjoy it is to have dinner with wine pairings and then stay the night at their beautiful hotel near Coimbra.  More info.

Portugal Michelin starred restaurants

CENTRAL PORTUGAL- MICHELIN STARRED RESTAURANTS

Fortaleza do Guincho (Cascais)- This Relais & Chateaux restaurant juts out of a stunning cliffside on the rugged Atlantic coast and is a fabulous lunch venue (for the views!). Read a full review of the restaurant in our newsletter here.

Eleven (Lisbon)- Lisbon´s only Michelin starred eatery, Eleven attracts celebrities, politicians and globetrotting gourmets. Superstar chef Joachim Koerper is the consulting chef here (as in Arcadas da Capela), and the atmosphere is contemporary and stylish with a jetset vibe. Info here.

Portugal Michelin starred restaurants Portugal Michelin starred restaurants

ALGARVE AND MADEIRA – MICHELIN STARRED RESTAURANTS

Vila Joya (Albufeira) - This magnificent restaurant holds two Michelin stars and is located in the sublime Vila Joya resort in a hidden away residential area a few miles from bustling Albufeira.  Star Chef Dieter Koschina is probably the most famous chef in Portugal (although Austrian by birth) and his tasting menus are “a must”.

São Gabriel (Almancil)- German Chef Jens Rittmeyer tantalizes palates in this glamorous corner of the Algarve, and the decor here is cozy and warmer than in some of the other Michelin establisments. More info on the restaurant here.

Portugal Michelin starred restaurants Portugal Michelin starred restaurants

Henrique Leis (Almancil)- another quaint and very cozy little restaurant in the gourmet epicenter of Almancil, Henrique Leis is run by the same-named Brazilian chef (Algarve is about as international as you can get!). Rustic and traditional Portuguese decor, stellar food and fabulous wine list.  More info on restaurant here.

Amadeus (Almancil)- Again, this excellent restaurant is located in easy reach of the other “golden mile” Michelins of this stretch of the Algarve. In keeping with the multicultural Algarve vibe, chef Siegfried Danler-Heinemann is from Austria. The nice thing here is they offer many different fixed price menus, More info.

Willie’s (Quarteira) - Located near the famous Pinhal Golf Course, Willie´s has it all- great food, charismatic chef, and candlelit romantic ambience. More info on Willie´s.

Il Gallo d`Oro (Funchal)- In the luxurious Cliff Bay hotel in Madeira, this classy restaurant offers elegant and formal (gentlemen are required to wear dinner jackets)  dining, superb sea views and a real old world ambience. Gallic chef Benoît Sinthon is at the helm, and he has achieved no small feat- getting Madeira island its first Michelin star. More info here.

Portugal Michelin starred restaurants


Los Vinos de Oporto

Posted by gen On November - 20 - 2008

OPORTO. TAN CERCA, TAN LEJOS, Alberto Coronado

Hay un dicho entre los viticultores del Duero que dice: “Todos los vinos serían oportos… si pudieran”. Y es que para ser un buen oporto se necesitan una serie de requisitos de calidad y de ubicación que no todos pueden cumplir. Y no será por falta de imitadores.

Douro Valley

Oporto significa “río de oro”, a pesar haber sido durante siglos una de las regiones de más pobres y aisladas de Europa. Es una tierra de perfiles accidentados, con valles con colinas empinadas y bancales donde ni las mulas pueden hacer las labores del campo. El suelo es tan pobre que tan sólo pueden subsistir olivos, matorrales y la vid. Y si a todos estos factores, le unimos las condiciones climatológicas de temperaturas extremas tanto en invierno como en verano, nos es difícil suponer como alguien pudo poner sus ojos en estos viñedos malditos. Solo hay que descorchar una botella de oporto para encontrar la explicación.

El oporto es un vino encabezado o fortificado, es decir: se le añade alcohol vínico para interrumpir el proceso de fermentación, aumentando de este modo tanto el contenido de alcohol, como la concentración de azúcares. Este encabezado de los vinos se realiza en otoño y en la primavera siguiente se traslada a las bodegas situadas en Vila Nova de Gaia. En esta zona el clima es más templado y atlántico propiciando la larga y lenta crianza que el oporto requiere.

El vino de oporto, tal y como hoy lo conocemos, tiene su origen en las malas relaciones que enfrentaron a Francia e Inglaterra durante más de 500 años. En 1678 y después de décadas de desencuentros, el gobierno inglés decretó el embargo del comercio con Francia. Este hecho supuso una necesaria y urgente búsqueda para sustituir al vino galo. Y lo encontaron en una visita a un monasterio en Lamego. El abad dio a probar a dos ingleses que visitaban la zona, un vino tinto de Pinhao al que había añadido aguardiente durante la última fermentación. Tuvieron que pasar cincuenta años para que este método se generalizara en la elaboración de vinos de oporto.

Douro Valley

Como el comercio de los vinos en el siglo XVIII se realizaba en barco, el hecho de que los vinos estuvieran fortificados con alcohol lograba que durante su transporte, éstos no sufrieran los embates del viaje, confiriéndoles una fortaleza que hacía que llegaran a su destino en óptimas condiciones.

El personaje decisivo en la comercialización del oporto, fue el Marqués de Pombal, que fundó la Compañía General de Agricultura del Alto Douro, organismo encargado de fijar los precios, acotar las zonas de producción y clasificar los vinos por su tipología, poniendo las bases de la primera denominación de origen del mundo.

Fueron muchas las familias británicas que se instalaron en la región para elaborar y abastecer los mercados ingleses de vino de oporto. Apellidos míticos como Sandeman, Forrester, Symington, Taylor, Graham o Delaforce son parte del patrimonio indisoluble de esta región. Sin olvidarnos de las familias portuguesas ligadas al oporto durante generaciones como Ramos Pinto, Fonseca Guimaraens, Ferreira o Silva.

España no pasa de ser el décimo país consumidor de vino de Oporto del mundo. Lo tenemos al lado y sin embargo lo desconocemos. No se pierdan el auténtico placer que supone un buen oporto a media tarde, relajado, bien servido y con algo, como no, de buena música. Puro onanismo.

Cata de vinos de Oporto

LA TIPOLOGÍA DEL OPORTO

En Oporto de producen básicamente seis tipos de vinos tintos dulces y también blancos secos.

RUBY. Son los más jóvenes y frescos. Son mezcla de varias añadas y envejecidos en madera de dos a tres años. Tienen recuerdos a guindas, frambuesas y mermelada.

Una vez embotellados están listos para su consumo y no ganan con su permanencia en botella.

TAWNY. Los Tawnys vienes del inglés “tostado”. Son vinos que han permanecido más tiempo en madera, por lo que adquieren un matiz marrón rojizo. Aunque son mezcla de diferentes cosechas suelen llevar en la etiqueta la categoría de la edad. Así encontramos tawnys de 10, 20, 30 o más de 40 años. Son menos afrutados que los ruby y con el tiempo adquieren notas de frutos secos, piel de cítricos y fruta pasa. Son más longevos que los ruby, pero se suelen consumir rápidamente.

Tawny Port

COLHEITA. Proceden de una sola cosecha (que se especifica) y envejecen en madera un mínimo de 7 años antes de ser embotellado. Se puede decir que es un tipo de tawny añejo de gran calidad. En la etiqueta se suele especificar que ha sido envejecido en madera para no confundir con los vintage. Son de color teja, con aromas a fruta desecada y frutos secos. Con sabor dulce a mazapán, caramelo y orejones.

LBV. Son las siglas de Late Bottled Vintage (vintage de embotellado tardío). También procede de una sola cosecha y envejece en barrica de cuatro a seis años. Normalmente se filtran y estabilizan antes de su embotellado por lo que no deberían tener posos ni mejorar en botella. Son excelentes vinos a caballo entre los colheita y los vintage.

CRUSTED. Son vinos que prácticamente han desaparecido. Muy pocas bodegas los elaboran a pesar de ser unos vinos excelentes. Crushed significa “costra” y es un oporto típicamente del gusto inglés. Se obtiene mezclando una selección de vintage de diferentes cosechas y embotellándolos en su juventud. Mientras envejece en botella un mínimo de dos años, produce sedimentos o costra, por lo que debe ser decantado antes de su servicio.

VINTAGE. Es sin lugar a dudas el rey de los oportos, la máxima calidad. Sólo se elabora en añadas declaradas excepcionales por el Instituto do Vinho do Porto. Se seleccionan las mejores viñas de las mejores parcelas y las algunas bodegas todavía hacen el prensado de la uva con los pies. Es uno de los vinos más longevos que se conocen, no alcanza su pleno desarrollo hasta pasados al menos 20 años. Se crían sólo dos años en barrica y su bouquet característico lo alcanza mediante años y años de crianza en botella. Los llamados Vintage de Quinta es la quintaesencia del Oporto, al ser vinos elaborados exclusivamente de una parcela con unas condiciones idóneas para elaborar los oportos más selectos.

En su juventud son muy concentrados y frutales, algo cerrados en nariz, con matices de mermelada de grosella y una boca algo áspera y muy potente. Es con el paso del tiempo que comienzan a abrirse y desarrollan su bouquet especiado, a cassis, o bayas maduras.

Warre´s Vintage Port

CATA DE OPORTOS

RAMOS PINTO. QUINTA DE ERVAMOIRA TAWNY. 10 AÑOS

Es todo un clásico. Un Tawny que aun conserva los matices de su juventud. Notas de frutos secos y especiados. Buena acidez, equilibrada con el alcohol. Fresco y sabroso.

DOW’S CRUSTED 1998

Una locura de vino. Sin filtrar y embotellado con tres años en barrica y tres en botella. La fecha es el año de embotellado ya que es una mezcla de varias añadas. De color rojo muy profundo. Aromas concentrados (cereza, grosella, especias) y un larguísimo final.

Excelente acabado, tendrán que pasar bastantes años para ver todo su poderío.

BURMESTER LBV 1998

Un Oporto perfecto para los amantes de los vinos con estructura y madurez. De color rojo profundo. Con aromas a frutos maduros y notas de chocolate. Es afrutado, persistente y con un final muy largo.

DOW’S QUINTA DO BOMFIM 1986. Vintage Port

Elaborado con las variedades autóctonas Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz y Tinta Cao. Es una de las quintas más famosas de Portugal. La calidad de sus vintages es fabulosa. Este tiene ese aroma tan típico de esta firma a violetas y especies. Todavía en evolución, de taninos firmes con una fruta enorme y con un final complejo que mejorará en botella durante bastantes años.

QUINTA DO CASTELINHO. Vintage Port 2000

Los oportos de esta casa familiar aun se pisan con los pies y sólo se abastecen de uva de la propiedad. Es un vino de gran vigor aromático, con mucha fruta y especies en nariz. En boca en poderoso y con un dulzor muy equilibrado. Evolucionará muy bien en botella.

Best of Oporto for Wine Lovers

Posted by gen On November - 6 - 2008

Taylor´s Wine Lodge Oporto Oporto Lugar do Vinho wine-bar

Oporto is a romantically fading city, similar in its crumbling down & atmospheric decadence to Havana. For Port wine lovers, this is MECCA! Despite the town being frayed at the edges and not gentrified, we simply love Oporto (called “Porto in Portuguese),for the people, the food, the wine…

And here are some of our favorite spots for food and wine lovers-

BEST WINE LODGES

Taylor´s- Gorgeous lodge complete with house and outdoor terrace overlooking the Douro river. Taylor´s are the original port aristocrats with a fascinating history dating back to the 17th century. The tour is excellent and you learn not only about port but also the barrel coopering and vine-growing. Read a full profile of this port lodge here.

Taylor´s Port Wine Lodge in OportoTaylor´s Port Wine Lodge in OportoTaylor´s Port Wine Lodge in Oporto

More info on Taylor´s

Ramos Pinto- Again, a beautiful lodge and a huge selection of wines to purchase and taste here. Ramos pinto has an excellent small wine museum as well. Read the complete profile of Ramos Pinto port lodge here.

Ramos Pinto Port Wine Lodge in OportoRamos Pinto Port Wine Lodge in OportoRamos Pinto Port Wine Lodge in Oporto

More info on Ramos Pinto

Graham´s- Of all the lodges we have visited, Graham´s do the best tour. Their staff speak 7 languages and the visit is very informative and tailored to your existing port wine knowledge. You can book the “simple” tour with tasting of three ports like white port, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) and 10 year old Tawny OR you can book a VIP tasting of higher end wines in their range. They have a good shop with many wine books for sale, and a wine bar. For port lovers, you could stay the whole morning here!

Graham´s Port Wine Lodge in OportoGraham´s Port Wine Lodge in OportoGraham´s Port Wine Lodge in Oporto

More info on Graham´s

Other good ones: Sandeman (who have both a port lodge in Oporto as well as a sherry bodega in Jerez de la Frontera), and Rozés, both are open to the public if you contact them first and make an appointment. Sandeman tends to get big groups while Rozés is more exclusive. Cálem (owned by Spanish investors) has a fantastic new visitors center on the riverfront in Vilanova de Gaia, and Croft have a beautiful cellar with excellent visitor´s center for tours and tastings.

More info on Port

Portuguese Winery Profiles

Portuguese Grape Varieties

VIP Port Wine Tours

Port Wine Lodge Tours Port Wine Lodge Tours

BEST RESTAURANTS

Cafeina- Fun, trendy, young and chic.  Good for late dining, wine tasting (they do “wine flights” and atmosphere. Info here.

Shis- Elegant venue and hot chef (Antonio Vieira, formerly of Cafeina). Nice location on the Esplanade. Info here.

Presuntaria Transmontana 1 & 2- Our favorte place to go for the Portuguese version of tapas, called “Petiscos”. Rustic, cozy, highly recommended. they have 2 venues, one in Porto and the other in Gaia. Info here.

Dom Tonho- Perennial favorite, love this place. You´ll find tourists but many locals, and the owner is a hoot. Right int he Ribeira, very picturesque setting. Info here.

Bull & Bear-  Refined and classy, great tasting menu and wines by the glass. Info here.

Foz Velha- Pretty dining room, elegant and expensive, as in Bull & Bear they have highly recommended tasting menus and many wines available by the glass. Great! Info here.

BEST HOTELS

Oporto River Scene

5* Porto Palacio Hotel & Spa- Recently renovated, this Leading Hotel of the World is an extremely comfortable place to stay and a major benefit here is Helio Loureiro´s restaurant. Stylish, great service and top class manager here, highly recommended. More info.

5* Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa- While Porto palacio is classic and elegant, the Sheraton is contemporary, for a younger design crowd. Great restaurant as well and of course that fabulous spa. More info here.

3* Hotel Boa Vista- If you are on a budget, then this is a good option with great seafront location by the Castelo. Rooms are only okayish, but the sea views and price are worth it. More info.

Coming next year- we look forward to the opening of the new luxury Yeatman Hotel Wine Spa in the current Croft wine lodge in Vilanova de Gaia. Due to open in December 2009, look out for it!

BEST WINE BARS

Solar do Vinho do Porto- Beautiful, old fashioned wine bar specialized in ports (in fact, they only have ports, but maaaaaaaaaaaaany ports!) run by the Port Wine Institute and housed in a mansion. Come here for a quiet glass or three of port. Info here.

Degusto Wine Bar- Total contrast to the Solar, this is a trendy and ultra modern wine bar, very “scene-y” and cool. Contact details here.

Bogani Café- Love it love it love it. Great views over the river, comfy and luxurious chairs on the terrace, this is a café serving wine rather than a bonafied wine bar, but you could not get better views. Fab! Info here.

Cafe Majestic- actually not a wine bar as such (although you can order wine here), but Porto´s most striking and truly “majestic” cafe, dating back to the 1800´s and absolutely GORGEOUS. A “must”. More info.

BEST SIGHTS

Livraria Lello- Yes, we are recommending a book shop, but not just any bookshop. This bookshop is the most beautiful we have ever seen in Southern Europe with a magnificent staircase, exquisite stained glass and many books in English on Portuguese wine and gastronomy on offer. This is a “must” while in Porto. You can also have a coffee and cakes in their cute cafe. Good profile and history of the shop here.

Palacio da Bolsa- The former stock exchange, this amazing mansion is TOTALLY  worth the visit. Don´t miss the Arabian room, wow! Wine lovers take note- the annual Essencia do Vinho wine fair is held here every February and is one of Portugal´s best organized wine events. Info here.

Serralves Art Museum- This contemporary art museum is also Oporto´s most famous Art Deco building and it is worth visiting not only for the wonderful museum but for its manicured gardens. Highly recommended and another “must”. Info here.

Casa da Música- Porto´s best venue for concerts. They run regular concerts ranging from jazz to classical, and if you are  a music lover as well as wine lover, then check out their schedule of concerts.

Art Museum in OportoBook Shop in Oporto