Vol 2 No 12…the Douro Valley and Lisbon

We left Rias Baíxas in the morning taking a short drive into Portugal and got off the highway at Guimarães and taking a winding road over the mountain (needlessly since the GPS was showing us the shortest route when we could have driven directly to Pinhão on a better road and backtracked a couple of miles, as the owner of the inn we stayed at told us, adding “never use a GPS here”), with switchbacks all the way but breathtaking views straight down the wall to the terraces of vines for Port.

We stayed two nights at Casa do Visconde de Chanceleiros, once the home of a Viscount and built in the early 1700’s with incredible views, and some casitas which we stayed in. Great hospitality, and incredible views and food. In Pinhão, we toured La Quinta do Bomfim, home of Dow’s, Warres, and Graham’s Port. It is still owned by the Symington family which was in textiles until a son took a liking to Port Wine. The Brits get credit for Port though, by adding brandy to it which upped the alcohol and stopped the fermentation, preserving the sweetness, which must be done 36 hours after fermentation starts. Originally, all the port was shipped on Barca’s down the Douro River which was very treacherous especially when loaded with barrels of wine. The destination was the Port lodges in Oporto. As in Bordeaux, originally the Brits shipped the barrels (or pipes) to England and bottled the wine there. Wealthy families would buy a pipe (about 60 cases) of Vintage Port of the year a child was born or, since not every year is vintage, the nearest vintage, assuring they would have the port for the rest of their life.

Eventually, the Symington family bought out all the companies now owned as well as some more. The Douro Valley is one of the worst places to grow grapes in the world (although as you will soon see, Spain is a contender in several regions), with schist layers that cause the roots to go down as much as 20 meters to take water from the rock. All the rain comes in a few months followed by blistering hot summers. Thus the grapes are stressed adding to their complexity. Originally, the grapes were collected and stomped by foot which was followed by a huge celebration. Today, the only one that still does it that way is Quinta do Vesuvio, also owned by the Symington’s. The crushing was done in stone or cement troughs  called lagares, about two feet high and about 12 feet square. It is now done by machine – the wineries have adapted their own and patented them in a manner that matches the way the feet would stomp them…they even have an arched foot at the bottom to get it as close to the real thing as possible. This is no joke as a human foot is gentle enough to squeeze out the juice without breaking the seeds which would add bitter flavors to the wine.

There are several degrees of Port from Ruby, the youngest and as the name implies reddest, Tawny, which is aged 10, 20, years or more, Late Bottled Vintage which remains in cask until bottled years later, and Vintage Port which surprisingly only spend two years in barrel with the real aging to be done in the bottle. Thus they throw of a sediment and must be drunk within a couple of days whereas other ports can stay open for several weeks without oxidizing.

My favorites are 10 year or older Tawny Ports or Late Bottled Vintage Ports (my wife bought be a bottle of Niepoiort from my birth year, 1944 for my 50th birthday.

The cellar room is incredibly large with large casks for Ruby’s and smaller ones for Tawny’s and Vintage Ports. Architects still visit the Quinta to learn how the 9 ton roof is supported with a series of trusses. At the tasting I chose a selection of Tawny’s: Dow’s 30 year-old; Graham’s 40 year-old, and a Graham’s 1972 Single Harvest. The costs of these bottlings is in order: 30 euros, 120 euros, and 250 euros. At 30 euros for the tasting it was an incredible value.

Later that afternoon we visited Sandeman’s which is much more commercialized. Until a few years ago the only tours were at the Port Lodges in Vila Nova da Gaia, across the river from Oporto. Now you are encouraged to travel to Pinhão. While I highly recommend this I also suggest taking the three-hour train ride. The station is just a couple of blocks from Quinta do Bonfim (Estate or Country Villa of the Good Ending).

A short walk from our lodging was Quinta do Infantado, a winery that has been in Joâm Roseira’s family since 1816 making this the 200th year. I talked with him for over an hour. They were a factor in getting the law changed so that the growers could produce their own Port which they accomplished in 1986. Port growers are paid more for their grapes due to the low yield than any place in the world, over 1,000 euros a ton, however there are several thousand vineyards many of them as small as a backyard and to wait an entire year for that is not enough to sustain a family. He is now one of the best Port producers from his 60 hectares (150 acres), which is sprawled over the hillside. He is very proud of his vineyard and done what he can to further the cause of Portuguese winemakers. As much as I liked his Port, the one I bought was a red table wine because it was unique. He is an amazing man.

After two wonderful days there, we drove along the Douro to the highway to Lisbon. It is a beautiful area and we hated to leave it.

Arriving in Lisbon in the late afternoon, we found our hotel which was just two blocks from the Institute of Port Wine which is a great place to enjoy Port (both red and white), in a club atmosphere. If you do this however, go across the street for an incredible view of the old town and the Tagus River. They sell Sangria there…one of the best I have ever had and musicians abound playing everything from Bossa Nova to Fado. A wonderful place to spend an afternoon. There are seven hills in Lisbon (like San Francisco and Rome), and I think I climbed all of them.

Since we had been to Lisbon before we had a nice dinner after turning in our rental car, and turned in early after having some Port. We had to be up at 3am to go to the airport for our flight to Madeira the next morning.

Trader Bill

©Copyright 2016 TBOW, all rights reserved.

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traderbill

How did Trader Bill originate? It was conceived by me as a way of providing information summaries of global financial markets so that friends and associates could bring themselves up to speed on events and changing market conditions upon their arrival at work. In addition, it provides information on speakers and economic releases that day with consensus estimates and level of last release so that the reader is prepared to react, or knows how the market might react upon the release of information. Who is Trader Bill? Initially any reference to me was as ‘i’. This is to remove the aura of ego and to suggest that i am but a humble reporter, albeit with 35 years of investment experience. Investments are demanding of ego, however, or one would not feel that he was qualified to manage someone else’s money in the first instance. Therefore i needed an ‘alter-ego’. Like Winchell and Mahoney, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and especially Trader Vic and Mai Tai’s! Why Trader Vic? Because he was a likeable man who delivered pleasure to his customers and knew exactly what their desires were. The reason for the alter ego became obvious once I introduced Trader Bill into my commentaries: people started asking what Trader Bill thought. They had never asked me what I thought before, but suddenly they wanted to know what TB thought! Now mind you they KNEW that I was Trader Bill but for some reason he became bigger than life. Maybe it was the small ‘I’? What does Trader Bill try to do?His goal is to educate from his years of experience. Consider that most of the traders and people managing investments weren’t even around in 1987 for the crash! Consider that Graham and Dodd, and even Warren Buffet are not relevant to them, too old hat. Their historical perceptions of markets and fundamentals (earnings, price/earnings ratios, bonds, debt service coverage) are irrelevant in this fast moving world. This is the NEW ECONOMY, or is it? How did your style originate?Years ago i found that i had a knack and talent for writing. In addition, i developed an ability to analyze market news about 15 years ago. It took the Crash of ‘87. Prior to that i was just listening to what others said about the economy. But bond yields had been soaring in ‘87 yet the stock market just kept hitting new highs. That was when i began to learn about markets. i have both a dry and witty sense of humor (some call it inane!). Therefore i attempt to make even the worst news somewhat amusing: whether it is the absurdity of an economic release, or the comments of a CEO. This is trading desk humor (or gallows humor). It isn’t politically correct but it does ease tension. Ironically, it is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (in the Navy they say: it’s always darkest before it’s pitch black!), that allows you to be more objective in your analysis, as bad as a situation is there will still be a tomorrow! You will see that i practice three-dot journalism, a style made famous by San Francisco reporter Herb Caen, whom i idolized. At least to me it is effective. What is so special about your analysis?Frankly, i don’t know that it is special, but at least it beats “the market closed down today on profit taking.” What i do know is that most of what you read is spat out without considering whether or not it is rational, like the above statement. Is it right? Sometimes yes and sometimes no, and that is the key to what is different about my analysis: it is meant to make you think. Is Dan Rather right or is Trader Bill right? If it causes you to stop and think about it, regardless of whether you agree, i win! Because THAT is my goal…not to have you think i am a guru, got that? Bet you never heard that ANYWHERE before in my business! Instead they want you to think just how smart they are but remember in this business if you are right 60% of the time you ARE a genius! Another thing that is different is when i am wrong on an analysis i will tell you, not hope you forget what i said. So now you have the tools to do what the speculators and hedge funds do: challenge authority, and if you make money it is because YOU did it not me. i was just a tool, your flunky to do the grunt work and let you decide…course you could be wrong too but at least you looked at the big picture. But the goal is also to have fun! This shouldn’t be a business of hushed tones and grim faces. It is a living, breathing thing and nowhere else in the world do you have the odds as much in your favor as here. Just beware of the guy who wants to put his arm around you and tell you he is your friend. So there you have it. I hope you select me as one of your sources for market information. If you do I promise to work my best for your financial success. Trader Bill

One thought on “Vol 2 No 12…the Douro Valley and Lisbon”

  1. I¹m thinking about a touch of Dow¹s 30 year Tawny tonight. Unfortunately, I doubt whether Tahoe City Safeway carries it, but I¹ll give it a try this afternoon. I¹m looking forward to your continuing efforts.

    Cheers,

    Warren

    From: Trader Bill on Wine Reply-To: Trader Bill on Wine Date: Wed, 11 May 2016 22:21:09 +0000 To: Warren Wagner Subject: [New post] Vol 2 No 12Šthe Douro Valley and Lisbon

    WordPress.com traderbill posted: “We left Rias Baíxas in the morning taking a short drive into Portugal and got off the highway at Guimarães and taking a winding road over the mountain (needlessly since the GPS was showing us the shortest route when we could have driven directly to Pinhão”

    Like

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