Lodges again

Post your experiences of travel, especially for the Douro region. Make recommendations for places to stay and visit or ask advice from those that have already been there.
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JacobH
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Lodges again

Post by JacobH »

I think I am going to have half-a-day in Porto in a few week’s time, en route back to the airport from Coimbra. I’m trying to work out how to maximise my Port tasting. Current plan is something like a lodge tour, lunch, then trying to visit Lado (which has been closed the last 3 times I’ve been there!).

In recent years, I think I have visited these lodges / tasting rooms in VndG: Churchill, Quevedo, Sandeman, Ramos Pinto, Cockburn, Taylor’s, Noval, Cruz, Vasconcellos & Cálem. Plus a few of the small places on the streets going up from the river.

The obvious places by the river which I haven’t tried are Burmester (by the bridge); Kopke & Graham. I drink so much Graham’s at home that I’ll probably continue to skip that one, unless anyone thinks it is essential? But I was also wondering if it might be worth trying some of the other places up the hill. For example, I think Poças is offering tours near the main VndG station. Has anyone been there? It also looks like there is now a bar at Fonseca, although I am not sure if there is more than that. Similar considerations seem to apply for Ferreira.

Any recommendations would be welcome!

(PS. I am very catholic in my lodge-tour tastes, as long as it is possible to buy a good tasting at the end which doesn’t just include their basic ruby, tawny and LBV!)
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Alex Bridgeman
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Re: Lodges again

Post by Alex Bridgeman »

Jacob - if you book your tasting at LaDo in advance you’ll know that it will be open when you arrive. Barring exceptional circumstances, Maria will make sure that any confirmed tastings are honoured - and feel free to say that you’re looking to go off-piste once your booked tasting has finished. Last time I was there (in November), you could get the Mourão 100 yo tawny by the glass, albeit for €200 for a 5cl pour.

Ramos Pinto is a very good tasting room even if you’ve done the visit before. In November they had the 1982 and some younger vintages available by the glass.

I visited Poças in June last year. It’s a good visit which is worth it at least once. They have some great colheitas and an extremely impressive gated cellar of LBV and Vintage Ports (but ask in advance if you could be allowed to see it).

Ferreira is a visit not on your list. It’s a fascinating visit with a decent tasting room after the visit. That’s the Lodge tour I’d recommend given where you’ve already been.

Kopke is a tasting room, but a very good one with a good range of Ports to try.

But if you’re trying to maximise your Port Tasting opportunities, give Maria a call at LaDo and book yourself in. She’s not far from the metro so very convenient for getting there from Porto Campanha and getting from there to the airport (assuming you have been spitting and don’t forget what time your flight is!). Once you’ve finished your booked tasting you can work your way through whatever interests you. If you do call her to book, let her know that you’re part of the Port Forum (and that I’ve steered you towards LaDo).
Top Ports in 2023: Taylor 1896 Colheita, b. 2021. A perfect Port.

2024: Niepoort 1900 Colheita, b.1971. A near perfect Port.
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Re: Lodges again

Post by Glenn E. »

I second LaDo - Maria will take very good care of you!

Outside of lodge tours, LaDo and Baccus Vini are the two places that I consistently recommend. You shouldn't need a reservation for Baccus Vini (and I don't even know if they'll take them), and Maria will take great care of you there, too.

Different Maria. Maria Tita at LaDo and Maria Fonseca at Baccus Vini. :-)
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Re: Lodges again

Post by Andy Velebil »

agree on all the others already mentioned. And add in Cockburn’s for a larger lodge tour. Ask for an upgraded tasting for the upstairs tasting room. They usually have some moderately older things to try.
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JacobH
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Re: Lodges again

Post by JacobH »

Thank you all for these recommendations. I had a very nice tasting and tour at Cockburn in their private room back in 2021: amazing how much it had changed from my first visit back in pre-Symington days! I also agree with Ramos Pinto. I went there in 2020 and it’s really nice you can just choose from a decent range of their VPs by the glass without having to buy a “package” that includes all of the cheap ones. Not that there is anything wrong with going through the full range on occasion: it’s just that it can become fatiguing if you are going to different places back-to-back.

I didn’t know about Bacccus Vini, although I have walked past it on several occasions. I’m not sure if anyone else feels this way but I am often hesitant about the bars and restaurants on both sides of the river (but particularly the North) on the basis that they look a bit like tourist traps which is probably why I discounted them. Unfortunately, they seem to open at 4pm which may be pushing it for a 6.40pm flight so I think I will take recommendations and try to make a booking at Lado.
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Re: Lodges again

Post by SLT »

Jacob - I almost always stop by Baccus Vini (hopefully with a seat at a table outside). Maria Fonseca there always pulls out something interesting. The last time I was there she was pouring Quinta Santa Eufêmia 10 Year Old White Port, Quinta da Devesa 20 Year Old Tawny, 2011 Dalva Golden White Colheita, and 2011 Casa dos Lagares Fragulho Reserva Moscatel. Interesting, fun, and great spot for relaxing, sipping and people-watching.
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Re: Lodges again

Post by JacobH »

A rail strike meant it was an early morning to get back to Porto on a coach. The Ferriera tour was enjoyable. Starting on the river it worked it way up through the warehouses via the sloping passageways that were used to transport barrels. I haven't been in those before. The tour I went on was advertised as being devoted to Dona Antiona Ferriera although I'm not convinced it was different to their standard one. I also wonder if anyone who didn't know about Port would come out of it more informed or just confused, but that seems to be a problem with the tour scripts everywhere!

The tasting was the basic white, basic ruby, reserve tawny, 2016 LBV and 20 YOT. I liked the white and the LBV. Would happily drink both again. The 20YOT was very disappointing, especially since it costs more than €50 in the shop. The basic ruby had a wonderful nose for such a cheap Port but let down a bit in the mouth.

It didn't look like they were offering any extra glasses to buy which is a shame. I'd have liked to try their recent VP and SQVP from Quinta do Porto & could even have been tempted into the table wine range if it were available.

Finally, I still wonder whether it makes good business sense offering the cheapest wines from a range with a ticket. It always puts me off when this happens. But then the person sitting opposite said she liked the ruby but not the LBV so I guess predicting what the general public likes is impossible!

Now having some coffee in 7G to recover before lunch...
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Glenn E.
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Re: Lodges again

Post by Glenn E. »

Interesting... the Ferreira 20 YO used to be (when it was called Duque de Braganca) one of the better ones! Hopefully it was just off for whatever reason.
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Re: Lodges again

Post by JacobH »

Glenn E. wrote: 18:59 Mon 13 Feb 2023 Interesting... the Ferreira 20 YO used to be (when it was called Duque de Braganca) one of the better ones! Hopefully it was just off for whatever reason.
It’s called Dona Antónia these days—as with most of the Ferreira Ports by the looks of things—so I’m not sure if they changed the blend or not. Could well have been a weak bottle or even me!

Incidentally, a nice piece of trivia from the tour for anyone else who likes heraldry is that the Ferreira logo has two emus holding horseshoes in their mouths; the horseshoes being a pun on the Portugese word for the same: ferradura.
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Post by JacobH »

After 7g, I went up through the World of Wine to have lunch in the Barão Fladgate Restaurant. It’s so nice when you are carrying suitcases to be able to use lifts rather that just having to slog up the road in the heat as we used to do in the past! Lunch was very pleasant, although the sommelier brought me the wrong glass of Julian Reynolds in red. I was wondering why it was so disappointing until I saw I was only charged €8 rather than €23 on the bill. I’m not sure the Barão Fladgate is the best place to have lunch in the area these days but I like going for tradition...

I didn’t have time to stick around at Taylor’s but poked my head into the Gift Shop where I found that, in addition to some rather attractive Port-themed socks, the had two copies of the Second Edition of “Port Vintages” for sale!

A brisk walk down the hill and over the bridge took me to Lado which was just wonderful. Maria told me that she used to work at Viologia / Portologia and it rather reminded me of the old days of that, in a very good way.

I had a tasting of the following:

Whites

Quinta das Lamelas 20YO
Quinta da Prelada 30 YO
S Leonardo 40 YO
Dalva 1952
S Leonardo 90 YO

Tawnies

Valriz 20 YO
Blackett 30 YO
Quinta Fonte Nova 40 YO

Reds

Quinta dos Mattos 2016 LBV
Quinta de Val da Figueira 2004 VP

This was all extremely enjoyable. The S Leonardo 90 year old white was, by some margin the best of this selection, but I suppose that shouldn’t surprise anyone . I also liked the Quinta Fonte Nova 40 Year Old Tawny. It was a new shipper for me but had a wonderful richness which I don’t usually associate with 40 YOTs.

The Quinta dos Mattos LBV 2016 is exceptionally good for an LBV but will probably sulk away until the 2050s before maturing...

After that, it was a mad dash to the airport and where I drank my body-weight in coffee to recover!

Thank you everyone for your suggestions, as always!
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Re: Lodges again

Post by MigSU »

JacobH wrote: 10:35 Tue 14 Feb 2023
Glenn E. wrote: 18:59 Mon 13 Feb 2023 Interesting... the Ferreira 20 YO used to be (when it was called Duque de Braganca) one of the better ones! Hopefully it was just off for whatever reason.
It’s called Dona Antónia these days—as with most of the Ferreira Ports by the looks of things—so I’m not sure if they changed the blend or not. Could well have been a weak bottle or even me!

Incidentally, a nice piece of trivia from the tour for anyone else who likes heraldry is that the Ferreira logo has two emus holding horseshoes in their mouths; the horseshoes being a pun on the Portugese word for the same: ferradura.
To add to that: ferreiro is Portuguese for a (male) blacksmith (ironsmith to be precise, since "ferro" is iron in Portuguese), so the surname "Ferreira" basically means black/ironsmith (in its female form; it could also mean "from iron" or something that is related to iron).
The Ferreira family coat of arms (the earliest I could find was from 1509, although there are probably earlier sources) also has the emu (or a similar bird, since emus are native to Australia). The horseshoe is absent, although it seems to have been added to some later sources (that aren't as trustworthy as the 1509 one).

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Post by JacobH »

Ah. That makes sense. Essentially the same as “Smith” in English. Not sure why the tour guide didn’t just say that!

The bird on the older arms looks like a cormorant, especially in that pose. There’s a nice set of arms on this label from 1945. You can see the older ones appear in the top left. Although I wonder who owned these arms: in English heraldry Dona Antónia Ferreira wouldn’t have displayed her arms on a shield like this but rather on a diamond shape or something similar.
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Glenn E.
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Re: Lodges again

Post by Glenn E. »

It also looks like the 1509 spelling of the name is "Ferieira" with an extra 'i'.
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Re: Lodges again

Post by MigSU »

Glenn E. wrote: 19:00 Wed 15 Feb 2023 It also looks like the 1509 spelling of the name is "Ferieira" with an extra 'i'.
I'm pretty sure that's an R with its front bit covered by the crest. I've never seen that spelling used anywhere, even in texts of the same time period.
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Post by Glenn E. »

Ah yes... that makes much more sense and now that you've said it I can see it as well!
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Re: Lodges again

Post by Alex Bridgeman »

JacobH wrote: 13:19 Mon 13 Feb 2023 The tasting was the basic white, basic ruby, reserve tawny, 2016 LBV and 20 YOT. I liked the white and the LBV. Would happily drink both again. The 20YOT was very disappointing, especially since it costs more than €50 in the shop. The basic ruby had a wonderful nose for such a cheap Port but let down a bit in the mouth.

It didn't look like they were offering any extra glasses to buy which is a shame. I'd have liked to try their recent VP and SQVP from Quinta do Porto & could even have been tempted into the table wine range if it were available.
That's a slight surprise. I was in the Ferreira tasting room in June and there was quite a decent range of wines by the glass. I was there with Stewart and we worked our way through a nice selection. I made a note at the time of the wines available (by the glass) and they were:
- White - EUR 2.50 per glass
- Lagrima - EUR 2.50
- Ruby - EUR 2.50
- Tawny - EUR 2.50
- D. Antonia Reserve White - EUR 4.00
- D. Antonia Reserve Tawny - EUR 4.00
- LBV 2016 - EUR 5.50
- 10YO Tawny - EUR 5.50
- 10YO White - EUR 5.50
- 20YO Tawny - EUR 6.50
- Vintage of the Day - EUR 10.50 (it was 2016 when we visited)

Pours were quite generous - perhaps 90ml.

I also made note of the wines available by the bottle:
2016 - EUR 79.50
2016 Vinhas Velhas - EUR 175.00
Quinta do Porto 2017 - EUR 79.50
Quinta do Porto 2019 - EUR 79.50
1978 magnum - EUR 600
1960 - EUR 600
1952 - EUR 1,000
1863 - EUR 4,000
1830 - EUR 5,600
White - 9.00
Lagrima White - 11.80
Reserve White - 16.50
10YO White half bottle - 17.50
Ruby - 9.00
LBV 2016 - 21.00
LBV 2016 half bottle - 13.00
Tawny - 9.00
Reserve Tawny - 16.50
Reserve Tawny half bottle - 9.30
10YO Tawny - 22.00
20YO Tawny Duque de Braganca - 54.00
20YO Tawny Dona Antonia - 49.00
30YO Tawny - 126.00
Top Ports in 2023: Taylor 1896 Colheita, b. 2021. A perfect Port.

2024: Niepoort 1900 Colheita, b.1971. A near perfect Port.
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JacobH
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Re: Lodges again

Post by JacobH »

That's odd. I had a look for price lists but the only ones out were by the bottle or case and the guide didn't say "'if you'd like to try anything else, you can order it". In fairness, I didn't ask but that was because they looked a bit short staffed and had a queue.

In any event, it doesn't look like I missed out on much. I'd have tried the VP & maybe the Lagrima + 10YOW. But what I was really hoping for was a few different (SQ)VPs.

Incidentally, I notice that when you visited they had two brands of 20YOT for sale by the bottle. I wonder what the difference between them is?



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Re: Lodges again

Post by Glenn E. »

JacobH wrote: 23:31 Thu 16 Feb 2023 Incidentally, I notice that when you visited they had two brands of 20YOT for sale by the bottle. I wonder what the difference between them is?
Duque de Braganca is just an older bottling of Dona Antonia. They are allegedly exactly the same Port. I don't recall off the top of my head when they changed the branding, but it was fairly recent. With COVID-related time distortion, "fairly recent" could be up to 5-6 years ago. :lol:

I have a bottle of Dona Antonia that I think came from immediately after the change and it says it was bottled in 2019. So... yeah, 5-ish years ago.
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Re: Lodges again

Post by Alex Bridgeman »

JacobH wrote: 23:31 Thu 16 Feb 2023 That's odd. I had a look for price lists but the only ones out were by the bottle or case and the guide didn't say "'if you'd like to try anything else, you can order it". In fairness, I didn't ask but that was because they looked a bit short staffed and had a queue.
If my memory serves me well, the “by the glass” list is in the other side of the “by the bottle” list.
Top Ports in 2023: Taylor 1896 Colheita, b. 2021. A perfect Port.

2024: Niepoort 1900 Colheita, b.1971. A near perfect Port.
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Re: Lodges again

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Glenn E. wrote: 23:55 Thu 16 Feb 2023Duque de Braganca is just an older bottling of Dona Antonia. They are allegedly exactly the same Port. I don't recall off the top of my head when they changed the branding, but it was fairly recent. With COVID-related time distortion, "fairly recent" could be up to 5-6 years ago. :lol:

I have a bottle of Dona Antonia that I think came from immediately after the change and it says it was bottled in 2019. So... yeah, 5-ish years ago.
Looking at Alex’s price-list, it just seems odd to me that the lodge might have been selling the old stocks for €5 more than the new ones. Considering that all shippers seem to follow the party line that tawnies do not improve in the bottle, you might expect the old ones to have a modest discount over the new ones.

Alex Bridgeman wrote: 08:58 Fri 17 Feb 2023 If my memory serves me well, the “by the glass” list is in the other side of the “by the bottle” list.
That would explain it. The only ones I found appeared to be taped to the plexiglass screens by the tills!
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Lodges again

Post by Andy Velebil »

Having been to Porto twice within a month last year, I spent some time being a tourists to see how some of the lodges have changed (generally didn’t do the tours, just the tasting room). Was surprised that some sold BTG what is retail significantly more money per bottle for €1-5 more for a glass than a significantly cheaper bottle.

I thought this odd, then I paid attention to what people were buying to taste. Pure snap shot observation, but I was amazed at how few people ventured from the basic whites, tawny and rubies. Maybe an LBV. I saw no one ordering older things that were available. I even had one lodge that, when they found that I really enjoyed Port and was ordering some older things, brought out a decanter of older port they opened the day before that wasn’t on the list for me to try.

From a genuine port lover point of view, I’m not complaining as we all can still get some older gems at a lodge without paying an arm and leg.
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Post by JacobH »

That’s interesting. I suppose most people who go on a lodge tour doesn’t really have a good idea about what Port is or how it is made and probably won’t drink very much as a result of it. It’s like visiting Lisbon and going to have a shot of ginjinha: the sort of thing many tourists do once as an experience.

Having a “Vintage Port of the Day” is a good idea which I like but I think the fact that they have to do that shows they are not selling very much because it’s obviously an attempt reduce wastage. I was also once proffered a decanter from the previous day when I did no more than order the most elaborate selection and showed a reasonable interest in them.

The only tastings I’ve been to in recent years which I haven’t enjoyed have been in the Douro where they offer you the white, reserve white, red, and reserve red table wines before one Port. Without sounding like a snob; I rarely enjoy Douro DOC whites (and I’ve tried Wine & Soul’s Guru NM which I think is supposed to be the best-of-the-best) nor €5 basic Douro tintos and it can really put me off ploughing through them to get something decent. But this is a problem in lots of regions where wine producers don’t appreciate that one style is considerably better than the others and they should focus on that.

Incidentally, the most disappointing tastings I’ve seen have been in Madeira. Blandy’s gave an excellent tour describing the difference between the noble varieties in some detail before offering a tasting of five of their tinta negra mole selection: why not three of the noble varieties? D’Oliveiras had nothing to try except for their cheapest and most basic Madeiras which meant I didn’t buy anything, despite going in with the intention of buying a bottle of something decent. It’s, of course, particularly inexcusable there since they don’t have to worry about getting through an open bottle in a short period of time.
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Re: Lodges again

Post by Alex Bridgeman »

Your last paragraph is very interesting and relevant for me. Elizabeth is planning for us to visit Madeira in May 2024 to catch the flower festival and parade. I am planning to pretend to be interested in the flower festival and parade while planning which Madeira producers to visit once the parade is finished. I note your comments about Blandy and d'Oliveira...
Top Ports in 2023: Taylor 1896 Colheita, b. 2021. A perfect Port.

2024: Niepoort 1900 Colheita, b.1971. A near perfect Port.
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Re: Lodges again

Post by MigSU »

Alex Bridgeman wrote: 20:50 Mon 20 Feb 2023 Your last paragraph is very interesting and relevant for me. Elizabeth is planning for us to visit Madeira in May 2024 to catch the flower festival and parade. I am planning to pretend to be interested in the flower festival and parade while planning which Madeira producers to visit once the parade is finished. I note your comments about Blandy and d'Oliveira...
You're now famous enough to warrant a special tasting. Make it happen.
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Re: Lodges again

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Alex Bridgeman wrote: 20:50 Mon 20 Feb 2023 Your last paragraph is very interesting and relevant for me. Elizabeth is planning for us to visit Madeira in May 2024 to catch the flower festival and parade. I am planning to pretend to be interested in the flower festival and parade while planning which Madeira producers to visit once the parade is finished. I note your comments about Blandy and d'Oliveira...
We went a year ago and had a wonderful time. George gave us some excellent tips for which I am very grateful.

We didn’t go to Blandy’s this time but I think it is so iconic that it is worth going (especially since they gave a decent explanation of the process). Just book a tasting involving something more interesting than what is provided at the end of the tour!

Henriques & Henriques didn’t have much of a tour but they did have an excellent tasting room which starts with their basic wines, which I think were free to pour from a barrel, up to some 100+ year old Madeiras.

If you think of d’Oliveira’s as a wine shop you probably won’t be disappointed. As a shop it is wonderfully evocative with barrels everywhere and rows of upright bottles with their years stenciled into them.

If, like me, you want to do some wine tourism with a reluctant wine tourist, I’d recommend Fajã dos Padres. There’s a cable car down to a small beach where they grow some organic fruit & vegetables and a very small amount of Malvasia which they use to make Madeira which you can buy a glass of in the restaurant whilst having lunch. The restaurant has very mixed reviews. We had a nice time. It was a little bit pricier than elsewhere but it seemed fair enough for the setting. Some people seem to have a terrible time, though. So maybe order some wine and see how long that takes to be produced before committing to some food.

The best tasting we had was at Quinta do Barbusano on the North side. The weather was awful and it felt like we were about to be blown of the wind-swept gravel track to their tasting room but when we made it we were treated to an excellent selection of Madeiran table wines. I had no idea that unfortified rosés with a decent amount of bottle age could be so good. A fascinating experience!
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