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Destinations:

France - Carcassonne
24-27 January 2020


Portugal - Porto
2-5 November 2018

Switzerland - Lausanne

Italy - Rome

Italy - Sicily
11-14 October 2019

Spain - Seville

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2nd - 5th November 2018

This trip is a chance to discover the gastronomic delights of northwest Portugal. Along the way, we will visit the beautiful city of Porto, stay in 5-star luxury in the historic town of Amarante and travel out to explore the Port-making region of the Douro Valley. Porto is a coastal city in northwest Portugal known for its stately bridges and port wine production. In the medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants’ houses and cafes. São Francisco Church is known for its lavish baroque interior with ornate gilded carvings. In 2014 and 2017, Porto was elected The Best European Destination by the Best European Destinations Agency. With our private guide showing us the way, we will experience the best that Porto offers, including a visit to the Grahams Port house where we will visit their excellent museum tour the cellars, taste a selection of Port wines and enjoy a sumptuous tapas lunch.

Douro Valley

A Unesco World Heritage site since 2001, the Douro is a majestic wilderness, but a surprisingly silent place, apart from three bustling weeks of harvest each autumn.

The Douro wine region valley is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. It is a natural growing area where the Douro River carved deep valleys in the land that growers transformed into soil and walls and planted vines. Over generations, terraces were inclined to expose the vines to the rays of the sun.

The Douro region is about the size of Suffolk but, unlike East Anglia, has barely a metre of flat ground. Instead, dizzying mountain slopes are creased and folded and combed with the millions of vines that make those juicy Douro table wines and its celebrated ports. The Douro is best known for its port production, but the region also produces fine, good-value reds.

The trip includes a river boat trip up the Douro as well as a visit to one of the well-known “Quintas” for a tasting. Also included will be a guided city tour of Porto (walking and private coach) a guided tour of the Grahams’ Port Cellar in Porto and a tapas lunch.  Amarante, first settled in the 4th century BC, is situated in the rich northern agricultural lands of the Minho region and is the perfect place to discover the “real Portugal”.

Casa da Calçada Relais & Chateau Hotel

You will switch off the stress in Amarante and relax in your superior quality bedroom at the luxurious Casa da Calçada hotel, the hotel, originally built in the 16th century to be one of the main palaces of the Count of Redondo, is today a member of the Relais & Chateaux group of luxury hotels. 

Chef Tiago Bonito profile  

The menu of Largo do Paço, restaurant of the hotel Casa da Calçada Relais & Châteaux in Amarante, is based on the "10 Commandments" of chef Tiago Bonito. They are: creativity, product, evolution, inspiration, knowledge, memories, dedication, flavour, tradition and experiences.

Tiago studied at the School of Hospitality and Tourism of Coimbra between 2001 and 2004. He studied at the Vila Joya (Algarve) restaurant in Alinea (Chicago, a three-star Michelin star) and in the DOM (São Paulo, two Michelin stars).

In 2011, he was considered Cook Chef of the Year in a nationwide-contest, the same contest where he distinguished himself with the Innovation Trophy.

Know your ports | A quick guide to fortified wine

Port is a fortified wine made in the Douro Valley; spirit is added during the wine-making process to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sweetness in the port and adding alcoholic strength.

The grapes are a blend of local Portuguese varieties. Most are red and long-aged in wooden casks.

Red Ports

Ruby: inexpensive red port bottled relatively young after two or three years in wood.

Late Bottled Vintage (LBV): wine from a single year bottled after five or six years in cask and ready to drink on release.

Single Quinta Vintage: port from the grapes of one estate only and made from one year’s harvest. They are often made by port producers in years which have not been “declared” for a classic vintage

Vintage: Only about three harvests per decade are “declared” good enough for a classic vintage (one-year) release which will state the year on the label. The best fruit from the best vineyards generally goes into these complex and rich wines. They are aged for only two years in barrel, are not filtered and may need ageing for many years until they mellow.

Tawny: Port aged for a notably long time in barrel until it becomes amber-hued, smooth and nutty in flavour. Aged tawny comes in 10, 20, 30 and 40-year-old styles. A Colheita or Single Harvest is a port from one year that has been aged as a tawny.

White and Rosé


White port is enjoyed as an apéritif in Portugal, either chilled and neat or topped up with cold tonic and ice, usually served with salted almonds. Rosé or pink port is a refreshing modern alternative, mixed with cold tonic, soda water or, for a sweeter long drink, lemonade or used as an ingredient in cocktails.

 

     
© Brian Smith Associates www.briansmithassociates.co.uk