Thursday, August 12, 2010

More Porto please!

So, here's the port cave. Calem is the company- the times at the Sandeman one didn't suit. Calem was started as a family business, but is now owned by a Spanish bank!

Our tour guide was one of the best I've ever seen- she was so knowledgeable, articulate, and well-spoken, it was a pleasure to be in her company.

This is one of the barrels where they let the port mature- just sniffing the air in the cave was intoxicating...ooh I could have stayed there all day!

The "barometer" shows how much port is left in the barrel.

The cave has been flooded badly on a number of occasions, and Jessica showed us marks on the wall where the tide had been, several meters high.

The good news is that the port wasn't damaged at all- those barrels were waterproof. Phew!

The bottom number here is the number of litres left in the barrel,

the other one is the capacity.

I must apologise for the shine on the photo- I promise I hadn't been drinking port when I took this- the tour was so fast-moving that I had to just point, shoot, then move on so I wouldn't miss any of the interesting stuff.

At the end, we got to taste two (large) samples of port, one white, yummy, and one tawny red. I had never tasted white port before, so that was interesting, and I would definitely be game for that again!

I don't drink red wines, so just took a tiny sip of the red one.

These are the kind of boats that would be used to transport the fermented port from the Duoro Valley to the cave-warehouse in Porto, where it is left to mature in the huge barrels.

They are no longer used, this one if just for show. Trucks are faster.

The most interesting thing I learned was about the little barrels. They are used first to mature table wine for 3 years, then the port house gets them, and uses them for 50 years. The port loses its colour as it matures, bleeds it into the oak of the barrel.

The barrels are then sent to Scotland and used to mature whiskey. The whiskey is naturally clear, colourless liquid, but as it matures, it takes the colour back from the oak.


  1. What a neat place! Virginia has a lot of vineyards and hubby and I try to do tastings a couple of times a year.

  2. Wow, amazing place and I can almost taste the port. Must have been really interesting.

  3. That's more than I ever knew about port wine. I didn't know there was a white variety. It does sound more inviting than the strong red - what I think of as traditional.
    Thanks for taking me on your tour, Mimi.

  4. So very interesting about the usage of the barrels!
    Wonderfully informative post.

  5. Very interesting place and looks like a lot of fun, too! Thanks for the lovely tour. Cheers!