Wine of the Day, No. 445

Here’s a potion that will warm the cockles of your heart on these chilly eves. By the way, that old expression has nothing to do with “cockles and mussels, alive-alive oh,” but is a popular corruption of the Latin cochleae cordis, for the ventricles of the heart. Anyway, the Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2012 is a large-framed, robust and supple-silky port that goes down like liquid embers. A quick explanation. Vintage Port, the real, rare and expensive stuff, rests two or three years in wood and then is bottled in its fiery, tannic youth to develop and mature over decades of slumber. LBV ages as long as four to six years after harvest in barrel, so by the time it’s bottled, the wine has already matured to a drinkable state. LBVs are priced more reasonably that true Vintage Ports. Grapes for Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2012 derive ...

Alma Vitis, a White Wine from Portugal

Alma Vitis, white wine in Portugal

On a pleasant, sunlit afternoon, we opened a bottle of Alma Vitis wine from Portugal. This particular Alma Vitis white wine was a gift from the mayor of a town in the Torres Vedras DOC region. Our wine tour, e-Spain by Ángel Moretón, had stopped at three small wineries in the Torres Vedras DOC region and we were pleased to meet Carlos Manuel Antunes Bernardes, mayor of Torres Vedras. After our wine tasting at Quinta da Folgorosawe returned to our large tour bus and were pleasantly surprised to realize that we had been gifted with a Alma Vitis white wine. The Alma Vitis wine was 13.5% alcohol. The color of the wine was a pale yellow with a green hue. The wine aroma was light and delicate with tropical fruit notes including grapefruit and hints of pineapple.  The taste included ...

What We’re Drinking Now: Chill White Wine from Spain and Portugal

Chill white wines. Perfectly refreshing but so much more. White wines from the Iberian Peninsula, abundant Spain and Portugal, are not only cooling and chill but also wise cultural ambassadors for their region.
Iberian wines
A selection of white wines from Spain and Portugal. Credit: Jill Barth
What these wines offer in terms of drinkability (especially in dog-days August) comes naturally, exhibitions of indigenous varieties calibrated by geographically-centered winemaking. Native yeasts, ancient methods, attention to detail and sheer craft enthusiasm make these wines serious contenders for top-of-my-list wines to drink. And wines to talk about — interesting helps, in our house, because we talk a lot about wine. My hubby and I work together on every meal that makes a showing on L’Occasion. To achieve our partnership, we talk a lot about wine and food. This week, as we worked on this post about Iberian wines I’m simultaneously publishing a piece on ...

Wine of the Day, No. 409

Vintage Port, the long-lived fortified wine from Portugal’s Douro Valley, is a fairly specialized product whose sales, in the latter third of the 20th Century, declined. What to do with all those grapes, if not make them, as tradition dictated, into Port? A generation ago, the Port houses came up with a solution; take the same grape varieties that go into Port and make unfortified table wines. That trend became a tide, and now it’s a rare producer that does not feature a full line of table wines in its roster. Here’s a fine example for this Wine of the Day. The Quinta do Vallado Douro Red 2015 is a blend of 25 percent each touriga franca, touriga nacional and tinta roriz, with 5 percent sousao and then 20 percent mixed varieties from vineyards planted more than 80 years ago. The wine aged 16 months, 70 percent in stainless steel, ...

Weekend Wine Notes: Six Ports for Dear Old Dad

On Mother’s Day, I wrote about Champagne. For Father’s Day, the subject is Port. Who gets the better deal is up to you to decide, if such a decision is even necessary. Personally, I’ll take Champagne before dinner and Port after. Port, made in Portugal’s Douro Valley, is a fortified wine, that is, fermentation is stopped with the addition of brandy or neutral grape spirits to the tanks or vats, leaving the wine with some (usually well-balanced) sweetness and an alcohol content of 19 or 20 percent. Young ports, especially fledgling vintage ports, can be powerful, fiery and tannic; old tawny ports lean toward mellow and ethereal. Port wines occur in many categories, some types fairly arcane, but the principle kinds are Ruby, Reserve, Late-Bottled Vintage, Vintage Port and Tawny. Ruby Ports are the youngest, the freshest and most fruity, typically aged in vats for two or three years. Reserve ...

Photographing Portugal: Where to capture fantastic photos in Northern Portugal

Portugal is renowned for its stunning coastal landscapes and kind, engaging people; which is much of the reason why Portugal continuously ranks as one of the top tourism destinations in Europe. That said, what many people haven’t experienced is the rustic interior of Portugal, where villages are hidden among the folds of terraced mountains, and where cultural traditions have remained intact... Source

Discover Jewish Heritage throughout Portugal and Spain

Orange trees scent a patio in Lisbon’s ancient Alfama neighborhood. Cilantro is used to season a seafood stew, made just like this for over a thousand years. Sausage made with bread stuffing hangs in a smokehouse and its true origin is hidden. A cook fries tiny fish in olive oil, unaware of the stories that belie this humble dish. Almond blossoms bloom and announce the eventual nut harvest which... Source

Day 13: Our Last Day of the Portugal Wine Tour

Although our last day in Portugal was jam-packed full of activities; we enjoyed every minute of it. After another terrific breakfast at The Yeatman hotel, we met with Beatriz Machado, wine director and Richard Bowden, marketing director for the hotel.    

View of Porto from The Yeatman

The Yeatman hotel

Spa at The Yeatman

              This very enjoyable meeting was followed with a visit to the IVDP (Instituto Do Vinho Do Porto) where we had an extended visit to the pristine laboratories where the IVDP wines are tested to be sure they meet the strict regulations of IVDP.  




              Our next stops were two port houses; Porto Cruz and Ferreira. Wine enthusiasts will want to consider visiting both of these port houses while in Portugal. Porto Cruz uses “The Woman in Black” as ...

Day 12: Portugal Wine Tour

We extended our winery tour of Portugal’s wine region for a couple extra days. On the twelfth day of our our visit to Portugal, we visited three port lodges across the Douro River from Porto. Our  first visit was to the Offley port house in Vila Nova de Gaia across the Douro River. Offley was started by William Offley in 1737. His nephew, Joseph James Forrester gained fame for his extensive survey of the Douro and the vineyards.  

Offley port house

Have you tried Offley’s White Port yet?

Offley’s port tasting

                Our next visit was to Taylor Fladgate. The port lodge, established in 1692, is one of Portugal’s oldest port lodges. Visitors to the Taylor Fladgate port house can enjoy a long, self-guided tour and a tasting port. Over the many years, four families have been involved with the port house including: Bearsley, ...

Day 10: Portugal Wine Tour

On our last full day of the e-Spain and Washington State University Viticulture and Enology wine tour to Portugal, we began the day with a visit to the Vinho Verde wine region in northern Portugal. The region’s climate is well-suited to growing white wine grapes, although a few growers are working with red wine grapes. Our first stop of the day was Quintas de Megaço which is a family winery focused on producing Alvarinho wines with grapes sourced from growers in the Vinho Verde region. The winemaker, Helio Barreiros is enthusiastic about the winemaking at the winery.   

Megaço tasting room

Acacia barrel seen at Megaço

Winemaker at Megaço

              After our lengthly tour and wine tasting at the winery, we enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant. The restaurant was small and a narrow way led to the stair. At the bottom of the stairway, ...

Day 9: Portugal Wine Tour

Our wine tour with e-Spain and the Washington State University Enology and Viticulture tours added the intriguing experience of visiting a small barrel producer. In Porto one morning, we visited Josafer Cooperage, a family owned and operated cooperage. In addition to producing large oak wine barrels, they also rejuvenate oak barrels. Our group was treated to a step-by-step process of crafting an oak barrel by hand. The workers at Josafer Cooperage are skilled crafts people who have learned their skills from the ground up. Our tour was conducted by the daughter and her brother of the founder of this small, boutique cooperage.

Josafer Cooperage where barrel making is a craft!

Demo of how a barrel stave is made

Josafer Cooperage barrel head

            Graham’s Port Lodge Next we visited a port lodge. Graham’s Port Lodge dates back to the 19th century. The company focuses on ...

8th Day: Portugal

Our tour of Portugal’s wine regions continued on our eighth day with visits to two quintas in the Douro Valley. At Quinta do Portal, we had the opportunity to see a demonstration of a Port bottle opened with a tong. During our tour we learned that older ports tend to have the corks sealed with sugar from the ports, increasing the likelihood of the corks falling apart as they are removed from the bottle. Using iron tongs and a special technique, the neck of the bottle is cut. The technique seems simple enough, but would you want to use it with a bottle of old Port in your cellar? At our demonstration, we were asked would we rather use the tongs on an old Port or saber a bottle of Champagne? How would you answer?


Porta tongs


              For  our visit to ...

7th Day: Portugal


Our journey of Portugal’s wine regions through e-Spain  with Washington State University  took us to the Dão and Távora-Varosa regions. Casa de Darei is notable for maintaining organic vineyards. In addition to the wines, Casa de Darei had a medium-sized dog who was looking for hugs. A wall in the tasting room is filled with numerous images of grapes growing in Portugal.    

Casa de Darei

Lagar de Darei 2015

Darei’s winery dog was very friendly

              Quinta de Lemos is a relatively new winery having started about 1996. At the time of the purchase, the property had 10 hectares of vineyards. Quinta de Lemos has increased the number of vineyards significantly.

Quinta de Lemos flag

Old vintage vats at Quinta de Lemos

Fog gently kisses the Quinta de Lemos vineyards

            Murganheira Winery, located ...

6th Day: Portugal

The sixth day of our visit to discover the wines and culture of Portugal began with a visit to the city of Evora. It was a cold and rainy day and matched easily with a visit to the Chapel of Bones in a very large church. The brightest point of the church visit was the opportunity to see a very large collection of nativity scenes of all sizes. One was small enough to fit in a walnut shell; others were much larger. A large chapel is also a available to visit.

Outdoor nativity scene with view of Evora

Tiny nativity scene is one of many nativity sets

Travelers also visit this church

              Our next visit was to Herdade do Mouchão in the Alentejo region.  The original winery was started in 1901 and it was completed in 1904. Today the winery continues on in the hands of ...

Beija-Flor: Beautiful Handmade Portuguese Crafts in Porto

There’s a reason why Porto has become a shopping haven for those seeking out talented Portuguese artists and designers, they’re phenomenal at what they do. The Portuguese are not only passionate about their terra, but they use it to inspire their work in an organic, relaxed and charming Latin aesthetic, drawing from the rich visual vocabulary and broad palette of inspirational... Source

Beija-Flor: Beautiful Handmade Portuguese Crafts in Porto

There’s a reason why Porto has become a shopping haven for those seeking out talented Portuguese artists and designers, they’re phenomenal at what they do. The Portuguese are not only passionate about their terra, but they use it to inspire their work in an organic, relaxed and charming Latin aesthetic, drawing from the rich visual vocabulary and broad palette of inspirational... Source

5th Day: Portugal

On our 5th day in Portugal, we visited the Amorim Cork Factory. The company purchases the cork from cork tree growers. At this location the Amorim factory receives the stacked layers of cork and begins boiling the cork and checking the cork for defects. At another Amorim location the cork begins its formation into bottle corks, insulation, soles for shoes and many more products.  

Amorim Cork

Amorim Cork

Amorim Cork

              Our next stop was Plansel winery and garden center. We met Jorge Böhm and quickly realized his passions of grapevines/olive trees, art and wine. Our group was treated to a delightful lunch in his private art collection room.  

Plansel winery


Plansel Vineyards

              Reguengos de Monsaraz is a delightfully unique and historic village set atop a high hill with views of the countryside. One ...

4th Day: Portugal

Our 4th day of touring the wineries of Portugal continued with our group of about 30. The tour was sponsored by Washington State University which used the culinary expert tours of e-Spain. We visited  Casa Santos Lima which has 400 hectares of vineyards onsite and off site. They are the largest producer of Vinho Regional Lisboa and DOC Alenquer. They are exporting 90 percent of their production.

Casa Santos Lima

Casa Santos Lima

Casa Santos Lima

              Following the visit to Casa Santos LIma, we arrived qt Quinta de Monte d’Oiro where in addition to a winery tour we enjoyed lunch.  

Quinta de Monte d’Oiro

Quinta de Monte d’Oiro

Quinta de Monte d’Oiro

              Our next visit of the day was to Quinta da Folgorosa which was established in the early 1700s.

Quinta da Folgorosa

Quinta Da ...