Porto in Porto. Wine testing from Douro Valley

When thinking about Porto, you can’t avoid thinking also about the wine that is produced here. It’s the integral element of the city and when you are here it’s more than advised to visit one of the vineries, located on the second side of Douro river. Well, you can always buy a bottle in the store, but then you miss this fantastic adventure of looking for a vinery hidden between narrow streets and tasting different kinds of Port wine.

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Port wine has been produced from grapes growing in vineyards in Portugal’s Douro Valley since the mid 17th century, when English traders found the place and started investing in it (that’s why most of the names are English). Port is typically a sweet, red wine (ruby), although it comes also in dry (tawny), semi-dry, white and pink varieties.

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Dow’s, Offley, Sandeman, Calém, Cockburn’s, Graham’s are just a few vineries in Vila Nova de Gaia. Our Polish-Hungarian group chose the last two places. We paid 10 euros and we were acquainted with the history or Graham’s vinery, we saw cellars and at the end – had the possibility to taste three different port wines and two another at Cockburn’s.

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Before the guide’s arrival we could visit a small museum presenting the history of Graham and Symington families and their involvment in the Port trade. The exhibition includes photos, maps and the collection of Port bottles with originals from the early 18th century to the mid 20th century.

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There are over 2000 oak barrels of wine housed in these impressive cellars, 40 of which are 500-litre oak vats. The cellars ensure a constant, cool temperature, perfect for the Port wine. You can also see lots of bottles from the 20th century there.

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The oldest bottle of Port wine has been called Ne Oublie (after the original Graham’s family motto) and costs 6500 euro. It dates back to the arrival of the great-grandfather Andrew James Symington in Portugal in 1882. 656 bottles of this wine has been released.

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We tried sweet and dry wines and something in between those two. The first one was ‘Six Grapes’ – sweet red ruby, a bit dry, six-year-old LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) and dry ’10 Year Old Tawny Port’, with nutty aroma and with hints of honey. All the wines smelled very nice and tasted equally good, my favourite was the sweet one tough.

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After the visit at Graham’s we went to eat lunch and then to taste next two types of wine at Cockburn’s vinery. We would have to wait about 40 minutes to see the presentation of the place, so we decided to skip this part :) and proceeded to try the wines.

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The view at Vila Nova de Gaia and the names of vineries.

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