I am so happy being back in the western hemisphere, home of good wine! Fun fact about me: I studied winemaking (enology) in Seattle for three semesters. I ultimately winded up leaving the program due to me moving into a sales career, but my love for wine still runs strong.
Now not a huge fan of port, I’m more of a big inky Syrah rather than a fortified wine drinker. But finding myself in Porto, Portugal, I had to go tasting!
The port at the wineries tasted sooooo much different than the bottles I’ve purchased in the states. So much smoother and not too sweet. These went down a little too easy.
The wineries are actually not in Porto, but a short walk across the Duoro River bridge to the small town of Villa Nova de Gaia. I picked five wineries to taste and tour, ranging from the oldest winery to the local favorite. There wasn’t a port that I didn’t like.
I started my tour with Calem, one of the most popular wineries. Calem was an excellent winery start with. They have a fantastic interactive museum you can visit while you wait for the tour. The interactive museum takes you through the whole winemaking process from the vineyards and soil to the production and fermenting process. I spent a good hour just in the museum alone. Once finished with the tour I was given two wines to taste a fine white and special reserve.
Next up was Kopke, the oldest port winery, dating back to the 1600’s. There are no tours here, but they offer flights paired with chocolate and crackers. I was the only one in the vintage sitting room. I ordered their five flight and chocolate tasting. Two of the wines were not ports but from their red and white reserve grapes. I actually wasn’t a huge fan of these. Their ports were excellent. The four I tasted were Fine White, LBV (Late Bottle Vintage), and Colheita 1981 which won 93 points from Wine Spectator Magazine. The tasting room attendant gave me a bonus glass of their tawny reserve too.
Sandeman is the port I was most familiar with. You can’t miss the big building with the cloaked man on top. Unfortunately, when I went the tour was closed for a private party, but I was able to taste their ruby and tawny ports.
Next up was Offley cave tour. The winery was founded in 1737 by William Offley. The tour talks about Barron of Forrester who helped Offley bring the company worldwide fame and was a pioneer and legend in making port wine. I only purchased the two tasting flight, as I was quite toasty by this time! But they have four different tours and flights offered.
TAYLOR’S PORT WINERY
Last up was Taylor’s, which is a local favorite. This place is not just a winery but also a restaurant with a stunning view of the river. The tour comes with two tastings of their Chip Dry and LBV (Late Bottle Harvest). You can purchase more flights from the tasting room after your tour.