Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

Duoro Valley Wine Tour by Duoro Exclusive

By Thursday, April 19, 2018 , , , , ,

Duoro Valley is a mandatory wine lover stop when one is in Porto Portugal. While Duoro Valley is known for their Port wine, they also produce other wines. Of course, the best way to learn about the various varietals is to drink them! You could do a self drive if you wish as the valley is only about 1.5h away from Porto. However, be warned that the roads can be treacherous, especially when one has a bit to drink. I decided on a wine tour so that the burden could be taken off us and we could just enjoy the drinking along the way! 
I picked Duoro Exclusive after doing my research. The small team consists of locals from the Wine Valley and they'd drive from the Valley to pick you up from Porto and back. Each Gold Experience tour takes a maximum of 7 person and you can also opt for a private tour. What drew me to this tour is not only the learning experience but also the great food that's offered in the package. While most of the tours would bring you to traditional taverns for lunch, our wine-lunch was at the one Michelin star DOC Restaurant by celebrity Chef Rui Paula, right next to the Duoro River. And all of that was only for 190€ per person.
Our guide Sandra picked us up bright and early at 9am and gave us an explanation of the history and geography of the valley along the way. We learned that Duoro has the oldest DOC for Port (1726) and the same grapes/blends are used for both port and table wines. Blends are huge in Portugal wine producers and they can have anything from 3 to 40 varietals in a bottle (it's mad). Even their fields are blended- you don't get a single plot of anything, they are all mixed!
As Duoro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site, everything is done by hand- From building the vertical dry walls of shale and slate, to the harvesting of the grapes. It's hard work and dedication!
Our first stop was to DOC Douro Quinta de Tourais where we had our first taste of the DOC Duoro wines. How about some feet-squashed wine for you? Minimal machinery is used here and they produce about 15 to 20 thousand bottles a year. Here, we had a taste of 5 types of wines, including port from the barrel, a tawny that is slightly sharper than the others that we've tried.

Special mention goes to the Quinta da Prelada Ruby Vintage 2011 (58€), which has a lovely rounded sweetness to it. Remember 2011 is a great vintage year for Port!
After some snacks and wine, we headed for our gastronomic experience at DOC Restaurant. This was obviously one of the highlights of the tour for me. 
Check out that spectacular view! We had a 3 course wine pairing lunch and there was great flexibility in what we could choose to have.
I was a bit hesistent to try the Egg cooked at low temperature with Portuguese bread sausage "alheira", after a disappointing try in Lisbon but the presentation and taste at DOC was certainly surprising with the chunky squid ink crumbles and tempura sausage. Jr's oxtail ravioli with pan seared scallops was gorgeous as well, those pasta sheets encased the robustly flavored oxtail.
For mains, we had the Grilled octopus with infusion of extra virgin olive oil and garlic. Simple great ingredients make a great dish. 
I had a super buttery and tender Veal with omelette. The omelette was comfort food with potatoes and roasted root vegetables in it. 
Dessert was Textures of orange- orange and white port soup, gel, foam, sponge, cream, sorbet. The sweetness was balanced with the acidity and light bitterness from the peel. And to end it off, we had plenty of petit fours (their truffles are amazing)! Of course, throughout the meal, we had free flow of DOC Duoro white, red, and port wine to accompany our meals.
The party continued at Quinta da Fonseca, a boutique Port wine winery where the grapes are still tread by feet. Their extra dry white port is perfect for a portini/portonic! We brought home with us a 2011 late harvest vintage ruby which has a lovely cherry note. If you are looking to splurge, their 20yo tawny is full of raisins.   
A lazy cruise down the Duoro River sounded like the perfect idea post-drinks. We took the same route that is taken by boats that transport the barrels of port from Douro Valley to Vila Nova de Gaia Wine Cellars. Of course, we had more port, this special old port produced by a local producer specially for Duoro Exclusive. 
After that relaxing boat ride, you can be sure that we were all buzzy and relaxed on our ride back to Porto. We definitely did not regret taking a tour to Duoro Valley. Certainly there are some constraints in the wineries that you could visit, but the ones we went to were great nevertheless and we were well taken care of by our guide. Make sure you visit Duoro Valley!


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