9 unmissable experiences in Porto and the Douro Valley for summer 2020
Porto, Northern Portugal
With Portugal set to lift its travel restrictions imminently, there’s no better time to start planning your next trip post-Covid19. The British connection with Oporto (only us Brits call it that, it’s Porto to the locals pronounced ‘Port’, with a silent ‘o’, like its most famous export), extends way back to Napoleonic times when the Brits fell out with the French and the Portuguese stepped in to replenish our ailing claret stocks. So why not arrive a night or two early to discover the abundant charms of Portugal’s second city, before heading to the otherworldly charms of the Douro Valley, the River of Gold, for a trip that will be forever etched in your memory.
Words and photography: © Lee Osborne/Sartorialee
1. Vogue Café Porto
Rua de Avis, 10, 4050 Porto, Portugal
Taking in the delights of Vogue Café – a treasured moment given my Condé Nast roots
A joint initiative between The Fladgate Partnership and luxury publisher Condé Nast, Vogue Café which is attached to the Infante do Sagres hotel in downtown Porto, offers up an-all day menu representing the best of modern European cuisine and décor that feels like it has been lifted directly from the pages of the iconic magazine.
2. The Yeatman
Rua do Choupelo, 4400-088 Vila Nova de Gaia
Just as social etiquette dictates that a bottle of port be passed to the left around a dinner table, it seems rather appropriate that The Yeatman, part of the chic Relais & Chateaux collection, is perched atop Porto’s Left Bank. A grandiose natural light-infused foyer, as spacious and decadent as one imagines the Titanic to have been sets the scene. Indeed, from the property’s elevated position above Vila Nova de Gaia, you could be forgiven for imagining you were on a great ocean liner gazing down on to the red-roofed port houses where wines have matured in barrels for over three centuries. Like a fine port, The Yeatman beautifully blends the renowned Portuguese hospitality with a uniquely British flair, resulting in an air of understated and stylish comfort. The hotel does not scrimp on space. Whichever way you turn you have room to breathe. Think exceptionally wide corridors, generously proportioned rooms and suites where you can even catch z’s within a converted wine barrel. Oh, and did I mention the Caudalie spa?
3. The Yeatman Gastronomic Restaurant
€170 per person with an optional €75 supplement which invariably includes 6 all-Portuguese wine pairings.The Yeatman, Rua do Choupelo 250, 4400-088 Vila Nova de GaiaBookings can be made via www.the-yeatman-hotel.com/en/food/restaurant/ or by telephone +351 22 013 3100
The Gastronomic Experience offered up by 2-Michelin starred chef Ricardo Costa is a sensational 12-course affair showcasing minimal interpretations from a genre powerfully influenced by surf’n’ turf, as well as crafting food artistry from Portugal’s rich bounty of regional ingredients. As views go, it’s hard to beat the 180-degree panorama of Porto ‘s glittering cityscape spread across the facing river bank. The notion of table time limits don’t exist here thankfully, leaving you to leisurely savour each and every delicious morsel, totally unhurried.
When CEO of the Fladgate Partnership Adrian Bridge was considering ways to extend the tourist season in Porto he dreamt up the idea of World of Wine which will become a reality when it opens to the public this summer Costing a cool €100 million, the 8.5 acre site sees the total regeneration of former port wine warehouses already in Fladgate’s possession at the foot of The Yeatman. It will celebrate not only Portugal’s contribution to port and table wine, but also cork and olive oil, not forgetting its influence on the fashion industry as an acclaimed producer of clothing and footwear. WoW will boast no fewer than nine restaurants, artisanal shops, as well as the addition of a new public square in Gaia.
Douro Valley, Northern Portugal
5. Quinta do Noval Visitor Centre, Pinhao
The Quinta do Noval Wine Shop, Rua da Praia,
5085-110 Pinhão, Portugal Tel : +351 933 770 281
Quinta do Noval is considered by many to be the finest port house in the world. And while their Quinta may be off-limits to all but VIP guests, their new Visitor Centre in Pinhão is scheduled to reopen on 1 June. Visitors will be able to enjoy a 360-degree virtual reality experience conveying the effect of actually being in the middle of the Noval vineyards. Housed in a converted townhouse and cellar just a hop step and jump from the cruise landing jetty, the centre will offer a programme of special tastings and events featuring both its port and table wines, as well as the opportunity to purchase your favourite tipples from its onsite shop to take back and savour onboard.
6. Picnic in the vineyard at Quinta da Roêda | Croft Port
N323, 5085-036 Pinhão, Portugal
Often referred to as the jewel of the Douro Valley vineyards, Roêda, whose entrance is adjacent to the town’s iconic Ponte de Pinhão iron bridge, which spans the Douro River, is owned by Croft Port. It’s just a short stroll along the quay to the Visitor Centre which offers tastings and vineyard tours as well as the opportunity to picnic amid its revered vines – packed lunches are provided by nearby luxury hotel The Vintage House, part of the same Taylor Fladgate group that own Croft.
7. Cozinha da Clara |
Quinta de la Rosa
Cozinha da Clara, Quinta de La Rosa 215,
5085-037 Pinhão, Portugal
Be sure to book lunch at nearby Cozinha da Clara, the restaurant attached to esteemed port and table wine producer Quinta de la Rosa. It not only boasts fabulous views of the River Douro as it snakes its way around the bend below, but it’s making waves for its food under the auspices of former Douro Six Senses sous chef Pedro Cardoso (pictured above). Seriously impressive fare is paired with wines from the property, but begin your sensory journey with an unorthodox aperitif: one of La Rosa’s newly-launched craft beers. Tie-in a winery tour while you’re there – Owner Sophia Bergqvist has even been known to escort you around herself if she’s in residence: usually signified by the raising of a Union Jack flag above the property.
What better way to take in the oldest demarcated wine region in the world than from above in a private helicopter? UK-based winerist.com, (creators of the first global wine travel platform that connects wine tourists with local people), will arrange for you to be picked up in executive style. First up is a sightseeing tour through the Douro accessing paths normally only accessible to locals before you take to the skies in a 40-minute helicopter ride. The Douro has been described as Portugal’s Valley of the Kings – the steep gradients make for such inhospitable farming country it almost defies logic that anyone even tries to grow grapes here. You will eat and drink like royalty at a private lunch afterwards.
A day of pampering lies in wait in the Spa town of Chaves, pronounced ‘Charvsch’, the Aquae Flavie of Roman times, located in the heart of the Trás-os-Montes mountain range just 12km from the Spanish Border. It is one of the most important Portuguese spas, as its waters boast the hottest temperatures of any spa in Europe. What is more, it’s only a 1-hour transfer to and from Pinhão.