On a trip to the city of Porto [by Mr Le Faucheur and Mr Debellu] publié le 16/12/2022
Les Grippeaux Vocational High School - Parthenay On a trip to the city of Porto…
From March 14 to 18 2022, 2nd year Marketing and Catering Service students, accompanied by Mr Le Faucheur, their service teacher and Mr Debellu, the deputy director of professional and technological training.
This educational tour has been organized in partnership with the Port Wine Institute, partner of the Ministry of Education.
The IVDP [Instituto do Vinho da Porto] is the institute that promotes the control of the quality and quantity of Port and Douro wines by regulating the production process. It is also in charge of the protection and defense of the Douro and Port designations of origin as well as the geographical indication of the Douro region on a worldwide scale.
About the organisation of the stay :
- On March 14, we discovered the city of Porto. We had lunch in a traditional restaurant.
- On March 15, after waking up in the beautiful city of Porto, we left early on this day for the Douro Valley.
At 11am, we visited Quita Do Seixo
Sandeman- where we had our first tasting of Sandeman Port wine, including Ruby PortO, White Port and Tawny Port wines.
We had lunch in a small restaurant next to the Douro museum, which we visited in the affternoon.
Then, we went back to the city of Porto for dinner and visited the city afterwards.
A few words bout Sandeman…
We were greeted with an explanatory video presenting the Douro Valley, showing us its beauty and the richness of the region’s wine culture.
Then the guide took us to a long underground exhibition corridor where we observed a collection of more than two thousand bottles of vintage port wine, aging in a room provided for that purpose.
Continuing down the hallway, there was a display of schist , a type of stone (soil) in which the Douro wines grow.
We then emerged into the daylight with a magnificent view of the Douro Valley. We were led to the tasting room where we were able to taste three different types of Port wines : white, tawny and ruby ones.
About the visit…
During the visit of the Douro Museum, the guide explained that the climate of the Douro Valley, though extremely hot, was however good for the culture.
It is often said that it is "9 months of winter and 3 months of hell".
In the past times, wine was considered as a more hygienic drink than water, which was sometimes denounced as carrying diseases, while wine was even given to children.
We also learnt that the more alcohol there was in a drink, the longer the drink would last. That’s why the monks started adding brandy to the wine to make sure that it would not spoil during the transport. Port wine is not a natural drink.
The Portuguese, who were great navigators, transported the port wine from the Douro Valley to the port of Porto. The trip took 3 days, but the return trip took three weeks due to the very rough rivers.
We watched a very interesting film about the difficulty of transporting wine. It was illustrated by a child travelling from the Douro to the city of Porto by a mini tractor.
- On March 16, in the morning, we visited the city and discovered several monuments, such as "Sao Bento station", the church and the torres dos clerigos
- and the "se cathedral". In the early afternoon, we went on a cruise on the Douro river
and, in the late afternoon, we visited the "espaço porto cruz" in vila nova de gaia and tasted Port wine.
- On March 17, in the morning, we crossed the famous Luis Bridge and went to the Ramos Pinto cellar in the vila nova de gaia.
There, we were told about its origins as well as the atypical "daring" posters, which stand for the identity of the brand. They show “men being attracted by the Port wine more than by women".
In the afternoon, we continued our cultural visit of the city with the "Lello" bookstore and the Sao Francisco church.
- On March 18, we went back to France.
A few words about Port wine now…
Port wine is mainly produced in the Douro Valley, since the type of soil there (schist) is the best for the vines.
Port wine is made from several grape varieties, but the most commonly used are the "Touriga Nacional", the "Touriga Franca" and the "Tinta Roriz". The process of fermentation lasts for about 3 to 4 days and is stopped by adding a 77% brandy to the must. The brandy stops the activity of the yeasts and interrupts the fermentation (this is called mutage).
All types of Port wines are prepared by adding a brandy of 77% to stop the fermentation.
All Port wines age in stainless steel vats for 2 to 6 years just after the "mutage". It is then bottled and can, therefore, be drunk at once.
Ruby PortO is aged in large oak vats of over 30l. It can be bottled for 3 years and can be bottled for more than 40 years. It can also be drunk immediately after bottling.
Tawny Port wine is aged in oak vats with 20 % oxygen so that the wine can oxidize. It can be bottled for 5 years or aged for more than 40 years and takes the colour of the wood with age.
It can be drunk as soon as it is bottled as well.
"We sincerely thank the Port Wine Institute for this enriching experience !"