The first full day of our tour took us to the Douro Valley – east and inland from Porto – and we decided to take the train. I first took this rail journey in 2007 and it is a truly wonderful way of seeing the incredible steep landscape of the Douro Valley. The train weaves its way along the riverside – at some points it almost feels like you are floating on the water.
Having arrived at Pinhao station, the bus was on hand for the short transfer to Quinta do Panascal – the historic Fonseca property. It is a beautiful spot made even better by a gleaming blue sky. After a walk around the vineyards we settled in for the tasting. Kicking off with the Sciroco white port, we then contrasted ruby ports, tasted the difference between 10 and 20 year old tawny and finished off with the 2012 Guimarens vintage. Then into lunch! More white Port as an aperitif – I could already see the white flags being waved due to the onslaught of fortified wine. Lunch was delicious – a fresh prawn salad followed by a traditional pork dish and a chocolate mousse to finish. We managed some Quinta do Crasto white and red over lunch before it was back onto the tawny with coffee.
We staggered out into the sunshine and the respite of the bus for a powernap as we headed over to the tiny hamlet of Barro. Here we met the delightful Maria da Assuncao Foy who owns the tiny two hectare Terrus estate. Here, they only make one wine and their first vintage was 2005. We had the amazing opportunity to taste consecutive vintages from 2005 through to 2009 and witness the evolution of the wine both from an ageing perspective as well as the effect of specific weather conditions within each vintage. It was a wonderful tasting in another beautiful setting.
The bus was very quiet on the way home.