Contributed by feature reporter Jens Hoffmann
Photos: Anke Sademann
We stayed in “The Yeatman”, a legendary luxury wine hotel with views of the UNESCO World Heritage city and the Douro river.
The hotel delights its guests with an impressive location; a terraced site on the slope of a hill on the banks of the river Duoro.
The hotel has numerous references to its great history in the heart of “Vila Nova de Gaia” next to the ancient ‘lodges’ where Port houses have aged their wines for over three centuries.
Many of the oldest Port firms were founded by British merchant families.
The Yeatmans, who entered the Port trade in 1838, were among the most distinguished of the Port families.
In 1756, the port wine producing Douro region was established.
During the rule of the Marquês de Pombal, an association was founded to guarantee the quality of the portwine which became very popular in England. By law merchants were permitted to import the portwine at a low duty, while war with France deprived English wine drinkers of French wine. The long trip to England often resulted in spoiled wine; the fortification of the wine was introduced to improve the shipping and shelf-life of the wine for its journey.
The British involvement grew so strong that they formed a trade association that became a gentlemen’s club and at dinners they use portwine to toast the Queen.
The Yeatman is a first class hotel in the Douro Valley, a Relais & Châteaux property which helped establish this beautiful region as a destination for luxury wine tourism.
It became Porto’s address of choice, the hotel which defines the city.
Culinary enjoyment is a further theme at the luxury wine hotel. With around 20.000 selected wines, the wine cellar offers the best slection of Portugese wines worldwide.
Besides this the Yeatman offers a unique beach experience the whole year, we enjoyed the 20 kilometre long beach.
And you should try the lovely Vinotherapie spa.
Finally agin the Port wine story: It all started in 1678, after the British blockaded French ports when the two countries were at war. The British began importing wine from Portugal’s Douro Valley. Back then Portugal’s wine was dry, full-bodied, and had a high alcohol content. All that changed when the British added neutral brandy during fermentation to preserve it better for long boat trips. But adding brandy changed the natural fermentation process, and prevented the leftover grape sugar from turning to alcohol.That resulted in a sweeter, fruitier wine that is now usually enjoyed as an apéritif or after-dinner wine.
Tip: Try and taste the nearby restaurants.
We liked the Restaurant “1828” – the fine dining steak restaurant of the The Yeatman.
Portugal is a feel good country.