Visiting Vinho Verde & an Alvarinho focus

Fly to Oporto and you can easily cover Vinho Verde and the Douro in a week and what a great contrast each region makes, topographically, climatically and, it follows, vinously.  That’s precisely what I did a couple of weeks ago and, though I was work-focused, it’s obvious that the Vinho Verde and the Douro are becoming more and more tourist-friendly.  

I kicked off my visit to Vinho Verde and the Douro by hitting the road to Melgaço, Vinho Verde’s northernmost outpost, about 2 hours’ drive from Oporto.  When in Melgaço, single varietal Alvarinho Vinho Verde is the order of the day.  The region has its own Alvarinho route (see here) so you can visit its producers (it covers the neighbouring Monçao too, also famous for its Alvarinho) and a  tasting house, the Solar do Alvarinho, pictured.  Very buzzy it was too, so it should definitely be on the to-do-list of any self-repecting wine-loving tourist.

Though I didn’t make it this time, add the Panorama restaurant to the itinerary  – I cannot recommend it highly enough.  It’s better and more atmospheric than the restaurant at Monte Prado, the new spa hotel where we stayed and dined, though the rooms here are very contemporary and comfortable.  And, should you fancy it, their spa menu features an Alvarinho massage. I prefer to drink it so, without more, you’ll find my tasting notes which showcase the different styles of Alvarinho being made here.

And if you’re still there and haven’t clicked the link for my tasting notes already, as you leave Vinho Verde heading east for the Douro, Hotel Casa da Calçada in Amarante is a luxuriously appointed stopover.  I arrived late and left early, but the rooms are huge and I’m told that the hotel has Northern Portugal’s only only Michelin-starred restaurant.

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