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Espaço Porto Cruz
by
Terry Sullivan

Espaço Porto CruzSummary: Espaço Porto Cruz is located across the Douro River from Porto, along the river front, in Vila Nova de Gaia. The popular tasting room has a restaurant, tasting room, artifacts and a rooftop terrace with amazing cocktails made with port and wonderful, scenic views of the Douro River and city.

Espaço Porto Cruz is a multi-story building along the river front on the Vila Nova de Gaia side of the Douro River. From Porto, one can easily observe the letters “Porto Cruz” on the top row of windows just below the rooftop terrace. Wine enthusiasts will not see cellars filled with oak vats and barrels. This facility celebrates port by informing visitors of all aspects of port production from the vineyard to the time spent aging. You will have the opportunity to explore a multi-sensory experience of the company’s port brands.

Espaço Porto CruzUpon entering the building, one will notice the company’s interest with the “The Woman in Black.” Our guide, Sandra Figueiredo explained that Portuguese women like to wear black. The Woman in Black was used in a marketing campaign of Porto Cruz in France. It was so successful, it ended up staying as Porto Cruz's brand image. Black dresses on mannequins evoke mystery and seduction, much like fine port wine. The theme of The Woman in Black is seen throughout the building, not only in dress but also lace and shawls. At Porto Cruz ,Kathy purchased a decorative scarf with an image of The Woman in Black. The package said, "This inscrutable, sensuous and slender figure takes on the black concept of shadow as a basis for a rich image with ornamental details, that relate to the core of Portuguese culture."

Espaço Porto Cruz sources grapes from growers in the Douro Valley. Wine is produced at wineries in the Douro Valley, then brought to Vila Nova de Gaia in tankers and aged in cellars. One of the first stops for visitors is a virtual tour of the vineyards, winery and cellars. Donning a set of virtual reality glasses, I began an extensive tour of the port wine process. Moving your head up and down and to the sides provided a tour of the vineyards. Workers were planting grapes. Other vineyard tasks and scenes were shown including: winter pruning, flowering, spring bud break, soil tilling, terraces with grape bunches, summer pruning, harvest and the seasonal changes of the vines.

In addition to the virtual tour of the vineyards, movies showed the process in the winery and the cellars. A winery facility was shown with grape stomping in lagars to fermenting grapes. The tour then showed the nearby cellars and finally the tasting and food venue at the building along the river front.

We took a quick tour of the different levels of the building. Art and sculpture are a part of the creative tour experience. An artist created four sculptures representing four phases of the winemaking process. The first represented fermentation of the juice. The second sculpture represented aging of wine in oak. The third represents bottling in glass while the fourth represents the cork closure of the bottle.

Espaço Porto Cruz   Espaço Porto Cruz   Espaço Porto Cruz   Espaço Porto Cruz

Espaço Porto CruzOne of the floors has a restaurant. The rooftop terrace is the place to spend hours tasting the wonderful port cocktails and taking in the views of the Douro River, Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Even during the early, cool afternoon, the area had many guests. We had a Cruz
Passion (pictured right), a combination of white port and passion fruit juice. It was delicious.

Tasting Room

Our tasting took place in a specially designed room next to an auditorium. On display in the room were glasses with port wines in them. Each glass was topped with a bung hole stopper. The display represented the colors that white and red port wines develop during the aging process.

Conducting our tasting was Diogo Pereira who explained the different brands of the Espaço Porto Cruz portfolio: Dalva, Quinta de Ventozelo and Porto Cruz. I asked Diogo how his wine journey began. He answered, “My wine journey began when I was four years old. I remember holding my father’s hand while stomping grapes in a lagar.” A backlit table allowed for optimal observation of the wine’s color. Diogo commented that the port wine glasses had a notch along the top of the stem for your thumb to rest on.

Espaço Porto Cruz   Espaço Porto Cruz

Ports

We began the tasting with the Dalva Dry White Port. The port spent nine months in stainless steel. Fermentation lasted longer than three days to ferment more of the sugar. Fermentation was halted by adding grape spirits. The final residual sugar was 30 g/L, about a third of the port where the fermentation was stopped during the third day. The port had a light yellow color and was 19% alcohol. The aroma had some tropical fruit notes while the taste had dried tropical fruits. The port was very smooth and slightly sweet. There was a crisp, fresh, long lasting finish. Pair this port with a salad, or shrimp and lemon. It also makes a good port for creating cocktails.

The Porto Cruz Pink was a light red color with red hue. The 19% alcohol port aged 9 months in stainless steel and had 100 g/L of residual sugar. The aroma was very fruity with mostly red berry fruit. The taste was very smooth and included fresh raspberries, some strawberries and cherries. The port had a fruity finish. This port makes a wonderful aperitif and is good for cocktails.

Espaço Porto CruzThe Porto Cruz 20 Year Tawny was a burnt orange color with brown hue. The 20% alcohol port had 110 g/L of residual sugar. Dried black and red fruits were on the aroma while the very silky taste had notes of nuts and dried red cherries. The taste was sweet. The finish included dried fruit and there was a long aftertaste in which fruit yielded to nuts. Pair with cheese or egg-based desserts.

The Quinta de Ventozelo 2011 Late Bottled Vintage had an opaque dark ruby color with a black hue. The 20% alcohol port offered dried red and black fruits on the aroma. The velvety taste had cherries and black raspberries. The finish was fruity and on the aftertaste fruit yielded to nuts and spices. Pair this port with creamy cheeses, chocolates and berry fruit desserts.

The 1989 Dalva Golden White Colheita had a dark amber color and 20% alcohol. Dried fruits and flowers were on the aroma. The taste offered dried apricots, golden raisins, orange blossoms and honeysuckle. The port had an extremely long aftertaste of fruit and flowers.

Espaço Porto Cruz is easy to find and an enjoyable tasting facility to visit. Make time to visit the terrace lounge and try a port cocktail among the many choices. In the wine shop, you can purchase all of the brands and it is possible to arrange shipping.

Espaço Porto Cruz
Largo Miguel Bombarda, N.º23
4400 - 222 Vila Nova de Gaia

 

Article written April 2018.

 



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