Today we leave this beautiful ship- the Magellan- and the Douro region. Our luggage is being transferred to our bus and we drive about 3 hours to Galicia. I’ll update from Spain but I would like to post some details about our cruise.
As Jancis Robinson has written, the Douro is one of the top 5 most beautiful wine regions to visit. I gave 3 private wine tastings for our Wine Lovers group during the past 5 days. The wines were selected so we could try regions other than the Douro and also to try wines other than wineries we would be visiting.
We had 2 private winery visits arranged with the cruise company: on Wednesday we visited Quinta de Seixo, located near Pinhao and owned by Sandeman. This is a top flight operation with video and a museum and a spectacular tasting room. It’s located very high on the opposite bank from Pinhao. Everyone loved the white port- please try to pick up a white port since it has become the drink de rigueur for almost everyone in our group. Both Churchill’s and Sandeman’s white port were great examples. We also appreciated the Sandeman 1999 Vintage Port.
Thursday was a full day excursion to Salamanca in Spain. We had to bus to Salamanca since the Douro is not navigeable in Spain since there are no locks and the river is not deep enough. This was a great cultural day although we did have wine for lunch and dinner- this is a wine tour after all.
Friday was our last full day on board and it was superb! First we visited the grottos of San Salvador high up the Douro- I have no idea how monks in the Middle Ages got there- or even decided to build there. Then we went even further- 700 meters above sea level and visited the charming town of Sao Joao de Pesqueira. It was a trip back in time to the 17th century. We walked along the former Jewish street- Rua de Gatos- and were reminded that Jews were expelled during the Inquisition.
After our town visit we went to a great family owned winery- Quinta do Quevedo. Owned by the same family for 5 generations, this was more of a boutique winery with an anuual production of 250,000 bottles, port and still wine. We were shown around by Claudia, the daughter and later had the opportunity to taste 3 of their wines with Papa. I bought 3 different bottles of estate bottled reds from 3 different vineyards. They produce a Rose Port, the first we had tried and a delightful tawny. I was so impressed that I also bought a bottle of tawny from 1968, produced by his grandfather and in the barrel for over 40 years!
We had a farewell dinner with the Captain last night and it was a great climax to a superb 5 days. Next up is a 3 day stay in Gal