Douro Diary: Day One

By October 10, 2011Winemakers

Johnny Graham hosted our opening night

Day One in Porto went like a charm: everyone arrived on schedule and after a brief  tour of the ocean road, we checked into our hotel.  Porto is a UNESCO site- the entire city is a gem- and although it’s a bit gritty, if they can ever clean it up, it will be one of  the outstanding cities of the world.

We had a mid-afternoon appointment at Graham’s, one of the premier port house in Vila Nova di Gaia. Our tour guide’s enthusiasm was contagious and we all knew we would enjoy our stay.

Next up was a tasting and dinner at one of the ‘newer’ port houses: Churchills-Graham. The connection with Grahams is interesting. Johnny Graham, the owner of Churchills and our host, explained to us that his grandfather sold Grahams to the Symington group in the 1970s and he decided to start his own port house from scratch. It’s a relative newcomer and even the taxi drivers took us to Grahams and we had to redirect them to Churchill-Grahams which is 500 feet away.  What a treat to have Johnny Graham with us the entire evening, explaining the still wines he produces as well as the fortified. Churchills is tiny compared to some of the standard Port house that produce milllions of bottles annually. Our meal of white port with almonds, followed by salmon cooked in Port pipes (the standard barrels used in Port) accompanied by their Douro white, leg of pork accompanied by their Douro red and culminating with dessert with Churchill’s LBV and finally the piece de resistance, Vintage 1999 Port by itself.

Anyway I hope you enjoy these photos of Porto and that they inspire some of you to visit this area. We board our cruise ship this evening and I will try to post daily updates as we travel the Douro River all the way into Spain.

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