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Douro Boys: Educational trip

Continuing education for advanced professionals…


These folks had travelled around the world and seen a lot, visited and tasted through many wineproducing regions. But the experience that fourteen top international sommeliers recently had in the Douro Valley definitely exceeded their expectations.

„This trip changed my mind about the Douro!“ Participants from left: Christina Fischer, Genusswerkstatt, (GER), Brian K. Julyan, MS, Chief Executive of MS organization, (UK), Melania Bellesini, MS, The Fat Duck, (UK), Dirk van der Niepoort, Kenta Sasaki, L'AS / CORK, (JP), Emmanuel Rosier, Sommelier Schwein, Berlin (GER), Beatrice Bessi, 67 Pall Mall, (UK), Andrew Connor, Head Sommelier Regent, (GER), Zigmars Grinbergs MS (Howard Ripley) (UK), Mattia Spedicato, Sommelier Geranium, (DK), Hagen Hoppenstedt, Hotel Adlon Kempinsiki Berlin, (GER), Henrik Yde – Andersen, Sommelier, Kiin Kiin, Cop (DK), Federico Moccia, 67 Pall Mall, (UK), Stefan Kobald, MS, Group head Sommelier of Social Wine & Tapas, Rudy Le Metayer, Summer Lodge Hotel, (UK), @ Andrea Schultes

The darlings of the wine sector
It’s not by accident that the Douro Boys have become the darlings of the wine sector. The five estates (Quinta do Vallado, Quinta do Crasto, Niepoort, Quinta Vale D. Maria & Quinta do Vale Meão) all march at the very head of anybody’s quality parade. And at the same time, their proprietors and co-workers are warm-hearted and joyful hosts, who receive visitors with open arms. These individuals are in no way averse to good food, and are always up for joining the fun. This joie de vivre, paired with a high degree of professionalism – where the wine itself is concerned – make the Douro Boys magnificent ambassadors for their region.

An unforgettable voyage of discovery
Over the course of three days, the fourteen sommeliers visited the five Quintas. There, they were able to learn things they had always wanted to know about the Douro Valley and experience wines they had always wanted to taste. Five detailed presentations addressed topics of the indigenous grape varieties, the longevity of the red wines and the mineral character of the whites, the various styles of the Ports – and far from least, the particular nature of the ‘Vinhas Velhas’ that are often eighty years of age and even older.

Mattia Spedicato, restaurant manager and sommelier at Restaurant Geranium, Copenhagen
‘Douro Red wines offer a wide range of choices for the customer: austerity, elegance, simply everyday drinking and more complex for food pairing.’

Master class at Quinta do Vale Meão @ Andrea Schultes
Studying in the vineyard - Quinta do Crasto, @ Andrea Schultes

Brian K. Julyan, chief executive at the Court of Master Sommeliers worldwide, UK
‘Douro white table wines really are “rising stars”. The best white table wines from the Douro are, like with the reds, made up of blends and their steady development is continuing. An excellent balance between fruit, acid and alcohol, with a long finish is being obtained and there is every possibility in the future that some really outstanding wines will be produced.’

Emmanuel Rosier – sommelier at Restaurant/wine bar «Schwein» in Berlin, GER
‘As sommeliers we learn the main grapes of Portugal and Douro. We learn that Douro wines are 90% blends and that most of the houses and winemakers have no idea what is in their wines/vineyards. But to try different wines from single vineyards beside blends is eye opening. Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, (…) are grapes that work in a blend. I was amazingly surprised with the way they worked alone too.’

Dinner at Quinta do Vallado @ Andrea Schultes
Lunch at Quinta Vale D. Maria @ Andrea Schultes

Andrew Conner, head sommelier, Hotel Regent in Berlin, GER
‘The Douro Boys trip has been definitely been a positive experience. I will definitely be expanding my selection and sharing my new-found enthusiasm for the region with my guests.’

Beatrice Bessi, sommelier at 67 Pall Mall, UK, London
‘This trip changed my opinion about the Douro. I discovered a lot of different things and definitely I will change my selling about Douro reds and whites.’