Porto in North Portugal, apart from being one of the oldest European centres and registered as a World Heritage site by UNESCO is located on the north bank of the River Douro on the Atlantic coast. The Douro River (emanating from the Duero in Spain) flows down along the beautiful Douro Valley and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean at the river mouth between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
Having recently been asked why we include an overnight stay at The Yeatman hotel (in Vila Nova de Gaia), which overlooks the Douro River and Porto (on the opposite river bank) is that this 5 star hotel (part of the Relais & Chateaux group of individually owned hotels) is quite significant as it is closely associated with the Port house of Taylor’s – once known as Taylor Fladgate & Yeatman (formed between Joseph Taylor, John Fladgate and Morgan Yeatman in 1838) now known as Taylor Fladgate.
The Yeatman is not just a 5 star luxury hotel, which opened in the summer of 2010, but one which boasts 82 bedrooms – whether classified as Executive, Superior, Suites or the Master Suite – all being individually decorated, spacious and discreetly associated with many individual Portuguese wine producer partners, themed with relevant artefacts and pictures. All have private balconies overlooking the Douro River and Porto, which at night-time is quite magnificent!
Amongst these bedrooms are – the Taylor’s Suite – which features a 4 poster barrel bed (crafted from a Pipe cask) the Bacchus Suite, named after the God of Wine, the ADF Suite, associated with the brand name of wines produced by Nieeport, a Douro wine producer. Others include Grahams Port, Wiese & Krohn (Port Shippers since 1865) and old Quintas – like Quinta de Covelo (dating from the 1500’s, owned by some interesting people over the years including an important European film director) and revived as an ongoing concern in a joint venture between a Brazilian and a Briton in 2011.
On our way east towards the Douro Valley, we always try to visit one of our contacts in the adjoining Vinho Verde wine district. Although many people associate Vinho Verde as a white wine (often termed “green wine”, as it is very young, crisp & fresh – usually ready for drinking within 6 months of harvesting), many Quintas there now produce both rose and red wines too, which are a delight to savour.
So, whether you are passionate about wines and their origins or simply curious or have need of some “fun in the sun” with an array of delightful wines and local gastronomy – we can really recommend a visit with us to Porto and the beautiful Douro Valley – once described as the “largest mountain vineyard in the world”!
Nicholas Collis, 30 July 2015.