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What is Port wine?

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What is Port wine ?

What is Port wine and how do you start by understating how to choose a Port to buy is what you will find in this post.

Port wine is probably one of the most know products from Portugal.

Is kind of a Portuguese icon.

Some people like it, some people don’t. What about you? Do you like it?

The truth is, there are so many kinds of this particular wine that you might never have tasted the one you love.

Maybe you tasted a Ruby with no idea there was a Tawny port or even a white.

Let’s map port wine so you can have a better understanding of this lovely wine.

You can call port wine or just Port.

Tawny, LBV, Ruby, Vintage, … these are some of the names that will see on the bottles.

What is the Port?

In the research I did, the definition of port wine that pleased me most is on Wikipedia and says “Port wine (also known as Vinho do Porto,…, and often simply Port) is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal.” (link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_wine)

Is Port so different from a regular table wine? If so, why is that?

Good … very simple, just drink one and drink the other and you will see big differences.

Port is sweeter and has higher alcohol content than table wine.

Regular red table wine has around 14% alcohol and a red Port around 20 or 22% alcohol.

As you already know, Port can only be produced in the region of the Douro Valley.

To produce Port or Douro table wine the same types of grapes are used. The production method is what makes the big difference between the two wines.

The whole process of picking and treading the grapes is equal to Port and table. The difference starts during the fermentation period.

To produce Port there will be a shorter fermentation period of 2 or 3 days and to produce table wine a regular fermentation period of 6 or 7 days.

Then, in the case of Port, to stop the fermentation process a certain quantity of wine spirits is added to fortify the wine.

As a result, we will get a sweeter wine because not all the sugar was transformed into alcohol and this wine will have a higher alcohol content because it was added wine spirits.

These wine spirits are neutral, colorless, with a 77% alcoholic content, it is generally added at the rate of approximately 115 liters of spirits per 435 liters of wine in fermentation, although this ratio can vary.

In relation to the types of Port, let us start by understanding how do they to relate to each other and then we will see some details of each category.

Are there several types of Port?

Yes, there are several types of Port.

Are they so different to the point of a regular person to feel the differences?

Ooohhh Yes.

Between the various categories, there are significant differences.

Nothing better than drinking different categories and feel the differences – this is the best part, naturally.

My intention is only to give a general idea about Port and help those who want to choose a bottle to take home or offer.

However, it is always good to taste them all – eheheheheh – that is the true choice of the knowledgeable.

What kind of categories for Port? 

Red – on the red’s you can find two different families:
Ruby and here you can find: Ruby, Recently, LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) and Vintage;
Tawny and you will find: Tawny, Tawny Reserve X number of years (10, 20, 30 or 40) and Harvesting

White – rated in accordance with its sweetener lever:  very sweet called “Lágrima”, “Sweet”, “Dry” and “Extra dry.

Rosé – with only one classification

In a future post, I will give you some insight about each kind of Port  I mentioned above.

There are a lot of pieces of information on the Internet about this subject but the biggest problem is to choose what to read.

I strongly recommend consulting the website https://www.ivdp.pt/ .

The IVDP is the Port and Douro Wines Institute and there you will find very good information.

To learn more in detail about the various categories of port wine can go directly to https://www.ivdp.pt/pagina.asp?codPag=64&codSeccao=2&idioma=1

Now it’s time to stop writing about it and go drink port wine.

I will drink a Tawny 10 years of Quinta de La Rosa, anyone with me?

“Saúde” (means health in Portuguese)

David Monteiro

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Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra, San Sebastian, Spain

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Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra, San Sebastian, Spain

Initially was a private own palace and at a certain moment became an hospital, during one of the Carlists wars. During the beginning of the XX century was adapted to become an hotel.

Like in many other coastal towns, the origin of San Sebastian is related with fishing activities and the “La Concha” bay acting as a natural safe haven for traditional local fishing boats ultimately explains the success and prosperity of the town.

However, when we look around we mostly see buildings dated after the 1800’s and one can wonder why.

The reason, although not obvious, is not rare on this part of the world. After a siege that took place in 1813, where the combined Portuguese and English troops successfully fought against the Napoleon army, the city was almost completely destroyed by the winners.

As you can imagine, San Sebastian had to be rebuilt after that sad event.

It also happen that the Queen Maria Cristina had to spend some time in the city recommended by her doctor due to her health condition.

The queen enjoyed so much the town that started to spend more time around here and that alone attracted other aristocratic members and European wealthy people in general.

Was in this context that the building that today we know as the “Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra” was constructed in the middle of the XIX century.

Initially was a private own palace and at a certain moment became an hospital, during one of the Carlists wars.

During the beginning of the XX century was adapted to become an hotel.

Today we can find a hotel with an elegant classic decoration although very modern in all the ways you can think about.

The Hotel had many distinct guests until now. Anyway, in its long list there is one that, in my opinion, stands out and completely fits the hotel’s environment, I’m referring to the famous and mysterious spy Mata Hari.

The hotel rooms are very elegant and classy, the restaurant has an excellent service with very nice quality/price relation in what concerns dinner and lunches. Breakfast here is a treat, the proper way to start your day.

The best of the hotel is the their staff, no doubt about it.

In these years I’ve been staying here with guests, as you can imagine, many situations occurred that I needed their help … in fact at the end is always the guest that has the need and the hotel staff always faced the problems with a tender smile and a eager to help.

If you stayed in this hotel please let me know your opinion. My opinion is clear, is an excellent hotel.

David Monteiro

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Walking in Ervamoira wine farm – Portugal

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Walking in Ervamoira, a wine farm in the Douro Valley, Portugal where they produce Port wine and table wine.

It'spectacular and unexpected to see a planted vineyard where is so warm and so dry that only olive, almond, and fig trees could grow and nothing else can.

The merit belongs to Ramos Pinto the famous Portuguese winemakers.

José Ramos Pinto was looking for a more flat estate to able to have a mechanized vineyard structure and found this estate that, at that time was called Quinta de Santa Maria.

The farm was “re” baptized as Ervamoira, like the book from Suzanne Chantal.

This is one of the warmer and drier areas in Portugal so you may want to avoid the summer months because it will be too hot to walk. During winter it can also be too cold … extreme temperatures, very characteristic of inland regions of the northeast regions.

This area, called Fôz Côa, is quite known due to an impressive set of prehistoric drawings. In case you want to visit the engravings, you will need to go to the Tourist Office at Vila Nova de Foz Côa and get a guided visit.

Remember, above all this is a wine region so taste the wonderful wines you can find here, both table wines and Port wine. I tasted (several times) their white Port wine and is delicious.

A special thanks to Sónia Teixeira the official guide of the Ervamoira and a lovely host.
From Chãs to Ervamoira’s premises is a 7,5 Km walk with 390 m descent (blue line of the map) and from Ervamoira’s premises until Chãs is a 9 Km walk with 375 m ascent (red line of the map), taking into account that you might want to see the engravings in the meantime.

Enjoy yourself.

David Monteiro

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Torrija at Bailara Restaurant in Bidania, Basque Country – Spain

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Torrija at Bailara Restaurant in Bidania, Basque Country - Spain

Torrija is the Spanish name for French toast. So far so good nothing new.

Like any other dish you often may find the regular and occasionally you will find the superb and that is what this post is all about.

One of the hotels I often visit while guiding tours is the Iriarte Jauregia – http://www.iriartejauregia.com/en/ – and here you can find the restaurant Bailara where Enrique Fleischmann is the Chef. About the hotel, I promised to write in another post its magnificent history.

Many of you will think: What is there so special about a French toast?

Well …

Instead of regular bread, they use an award-winning brioche bread soaked in a custard cream and grilled, not fried.

The amber and yellow pearls are all done manually one-by-one. The yellow has a base of egg yolk dropped into a warm syrup so they will cook gently and the amber pearls have a base of syrup dropped into a cold cooking oil to crystallize without getting stuck with each other … just perfect.

The result is a French toast with a perfect structure, tasty, not too sweet, not fat, crunchy and while you are chewing you may have a very mild caramel flavor from the amber pearls …. ooooohhh the heaven exists 🙂

Enjoy it … I know I will 🙂

David Monteiro

Location: Bailara Restaurant, Bidania, Basque Country, Spain

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Walking from Fuenterrabia to San Sebastian – Spain

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Walking from Fuenterrabia/Hondarribia to San Sebastian/Donostia, Basque Country, Spain.

I loooove to walk … that is obvious … however is not an absolute truth because there are walks I love more than others and some walk I hope not have to do them.

Each walk has its charm but for a walk to enter into my favorites gallery the walk has to have something special like a story, History, superb views, extraordinary places or, something less objective, has to have that je ne sais quoi that will make it special.

The Spanish Basque Country is widely known by its gastronomy and there there is also a quite long and beautiful coastal line.

When I first started to analyze the trail from Hondarribia (Fuenterrabia in Spanish) to Donostia (San Sebastian in Spanish) I didn’t know what to expect so I was open to whatever I could find.

Hondarribia is a Spanish Basque village at the border with Hendaye a French Basque village and, in between these two Basque villages, you can find the river Bidasoa. Is a village full of life where you will find a lot of bars with amazing pintxos.

There’s a trail here that will take you directly do Donostia, always along the Cantabric coast and that was the trail I first thought about doing. Has 30 Km with 1400 m of elevation gain, challenging but not too difficult.

In the meantime, I realized that not too far from the trail there was quite a good number of elements that are quite interesting to visit while doing the walk and that could increase the charm of the walk, decrease the length, reduce the elevation gain a little bit and increase the charm … looks like a good deal.

The trail ended up having 27 Km with 1100 m of elevation gain. Is still a challenging walk but with added value. Not too bad, I knew that some of my clients would love to do it.

Now I know that I can either do the trail in one shoot or split it in two wonderful walking days.

During the trail you can visit/see:

And, before crossing Donibane de Pasaia you can have lunch in a wonderful terrace by the river Oiartzun mouth looking to the sea.

Arriving to Donostia will be time to have a deserved bath and a nice meal. One thing that you will find in abundance in Donostia is restaurants where you have a superb dinner.

I already did this walk with clients and they loved everything. For sure I will repeat it.

Enjoy yourself.

David Monteiro

Location: San Sebastian, Spain

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Walking in the Serra da Freita – must see / must do

Walking in the Serra da Freita – must see / must do.

I’m a little nervous about writing this post. “Serra da Freita” (Freita’s hills) is one of the places that inspired me to start this long walk to become a professional on Active Tourism and I do not know if I will have enough talent in the art of writing in order to fairly reward this site.

However, I feel that this blog will never be complete if it does not have some something written about Serra da Freita.

I’ve done a lot of hiking in the hills area, repeating the same and doing many others that I never had the opportunity to repeat.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Serra da Freita” is also an area where I did many other activities besides walking such as climbed, canyoning, hydrospeed and rafting not far from 

here. However, this being a blog of walking, I will confine myself to this theme.

The translation of “Serra” is hills or small mountains and we often use the word “Serra” for the name of a short mountain area. Here I will be writing about Serra da Freita as well as about Serra da Arada.

Frecha da Mizarela

201208Freita (76)This waterfall, with more than 70 m high, is the business card of Serra da Freita.

Is part of a system of cascades that as a whole exceeds 90m high. This beautiful waterfall landscape and the vision of many other smaller waterfalls is what we can expect when we walk in this area.

Ribeira is a small village that lies at the foot of this system of cascades and the trail that goes along this watercourse could not be more spectacular. Here you will find many small ponds where 

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DSCN1717When we walk from Ribeira to Mizarela we can choose between walking along the watercourse as I mentioned or, from a certain point, choose a little “detour” and climb (very easy climbing) some rocks on the right side of the waterfall Frecha da Mizarela. Is a low-difficulty climbing but that of course always requires some care.you can bathe in the crystal-clear waters or simply enjoy showering at the waterfalls.

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All the people who made this trail with me felled in love for place, is without doubt a fabulous  hike.

This trail requires us to cross a small pond so we better have our swimming gear with us and a nice pair of rubber sandals.

It’s so fun to walk this trail that nobody forgets it.

A rock giving birth to another rock

Talking about a rock giving birth to another rock looks like we are talking about the “Lord of The Rings” saga but this time it’s really true.

There is a rare geological phenomenon which results in the granite rock releasing some crystals that will form new chunks of rock. Apparently, this phenomenon can only be seen in two places in the world, near Castanheira, a village in Serra da Freita and somewhere in Russia. I do not know if whether there will be other places but as much I investigated there is only these two places.

It is very interesting to see the new stones because they look like flattened black eggs and on the mother rock you will find kind of a nest where the “baby” rocks was formed.

See the translated version of Wikipedia at: http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedra_parideira

Tungsten mine – Rio de Frades – Cabreiros – Tabelião

DSCF2925Rio de Frades (River of Friars) is a small village deeply marked by what used to be a tungsten mine.

The tungsten mine’s, today in ruins, began in 1914. This metal hardens the ammunition and makes them more resistant.

These mines belonged to a German company named “Mining Company of North of Portugal”, drilled more than 6 km of holes along the river from where they extracted this rare metal to be sold during the first and second world wars.

Nowadays you will only find its ruins and a small highly stratified village, as it was the standard way of living in those contexts of mining communities.

The river with the same name as this village, has fabulous landscapes hidden in its valley. Small turquoise lakes and astonishing cascades are only accessible using the techniques and knowledge to do so.

Walking along the trail from Rio de Frades we will arrive to Cabreiros a charming village with lovely stone houses, a typically village. From here we can go until Tebilhão on bucolic trail, flanked by granite stone walls.

From Póvoa das Leiras to Covêlo de Paivô

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After the stone houses of the village (Póvoa das Leiras) there is a trail that leads us to a stone platform path that goes almost until Covêlo de Paivô, downhill always at half-slope.

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After this long walk we will arrive to Covêlo of Paivô, but not before crossing a large natural pool … a bath is “compulsory”. The crystal clear water with small fishes makes us feel like it should be in paradise.Despite not having any proof, this route appears to have been a work of

Romans, is one of those trails that one must put on the list of must-sees.

Arouquesa beef and goats from the hills

IM000090.JPGThe sighting of grazing cattle when we walk is always an interesting moment and here these moments happen often because breeding is a strong source of income to the locals.

Around here we can find mainly cows and goats.

The arouquesa cow breed is highly appreciated and its meat reaches high values on the market is.

Arouquesa cows are docile animals with a candid look and with an impressive pair of horns that easily awakens your deepest sense of respect.

Goats are also very numerous and abundant are also the products t

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hat this animal provides us such as the milk to do goat cheese … nhummy 🙂

Covas do Monte is another small village with an interesting particularity: is has about 75 inhabitants and we can find here more than 2000 goats coming out every day in the morning to go graze on the hills, a spectacle worthy of seen and living as a shepherd for one day.

Gastronomy

IM000213.JPGThere is no place in Portugal about which there is not a lot to talk about gastronomy and this area is no different.

I would like to point out two typical dishes: Serra da Arada lamb baked in wood-burning oven and the roasted aroquesa veal.

They are both, of course, dishes based on products of the mountains such as the veal aroquesa, the lamb, vegetables and other products, both worked with the traditional techniques and equipment as the wood-burning oven, trays and platters of clay and slowly baking the meat to be tender and without losing their juices and flavors.

Of course the wine we drink around here is the Dão doc but on this spectacular wine I’ll write a post one day.

Are you willing to meet the Serra da Freita and Serra da Arada? I hope so:) Here I am to go walking with you in the Serra da Freita and share these wonders.

David Monteiro

Location: Arouca, Portugal