ART&TUR Magazine N.1 - Page 15

In my tasting, in the cellar, I get samples of all of these but my favourite is a late bottled vintage ruby port from 2011. The wine is made from grapes only from a single harvest and it’s kept in barrels for around four years before being bottled. It has a complex aroma, dominated by floral notes, and I get heather, rosemary plummy black fruit and a touch of chocolate from the wood ageing. Best of all, it has a very long, well-balanced finish. I want to see where these wines come from, so I take the regular train to Régua. The Linha do Douro (Douro Line) opened in 1887, and originally crossed the border to Spain, linking to Madrid. These days it only goes as far as Pocinho, passing through more than 20 tunnels, 30 bridges and 34 stations. The Historical Train used to run steam engines at weekends in the summer going between Régua and Tua, but apparently they caused bush fires so have been discontinued. I have to be content with travelling in vintage carriages, pulled by a diesel locomotive, with local musicians providing the entertainment. There’s a stop at Pinhão, and then on to Tua where we sample local products including wines and then return to Régua. I take the regular train and get off at Pala on the north bank of the Douro, facing Cinfães, about 75km from Porto. My hotel, the Douro Royal Valley, is just a few minutes from the station and it’s only been opened a few months. Fortunately everything seems to be working and the staff are extremely attentive. The 70 rooms, on five floors, are large, all with panoramic views over the Douro River, and with access to free Wi-Fi. As you’d expect for a five star establishment, each has a mini-bar, flat screen TV, air conditioning and bathrobe with slippers. You’ll need these for your visit to the Royal Spa, on the 6th and 7th floors, where you can enjoy the view while receiving a soothing massage. The outdoor infinity pool is particularly impressive, perched right on the edge, dropping precariously down to the river below. There’s a jetty here and you there’s the option for boat trips. I particularly like Palato D’Ouro Restaurant, whose modern décor complements the traditional origins of its food. On the fine dining menu, local products feature heavily and, as you’d expect, you can choose from their selection of the best of Douro wines. The hotel makes a comfortable base for visiting the vineyards on the terraced hillsides lining both sides of the river. Don’t forget to drop in at one of the Quintas where you can sample their world famous port wine. Douro Valley has information about the river. Turismo de Portugal has information about the country. 15