Wednesday, 20 September 2017
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calcadaAn excellent exhibition, organized by the Museu de Lisboa, is about to enter its final week. I apologize to readers for not having reported on it earlier, I have been in Porto and the Douro Valley.

‘Under our feet’ can be seen in the Torreão Poente on the Praça do Comércio until the 24th of September. I always like visiting this exhibition space because some of the rooms look out over the River Tagus. Standing facing the first floor windows it is not difficult, if we close our eyes a little, to imagine the battle ship of some great power slowly approaching the city with all sails hoisted.

bubblyLovers of champagne (woops, I mean sparkling wine), are awaiting the release this autumn of the Windsor Vineyard 2014 vintage with the febrility of a champagne cork about to be popped.

I am not in a position to disclose the exact date of this release but, if you are interested in tasting the royal bubbly, you should move fast as last year the 2013 vintage sold out weeks before Christmas.

serralvesWe shall see in due course whether the spectacular new MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology), the elegant vessel on the banks of the River Tagus in Lisbon, will become Portugal’s leading contemporary art museum. For the time being, this position is uncontestably held by the Serralves Foundation. It is no coincidence that the Foundation is located in the country’s most exciting city: Porto.

The Foundation’s permanent collection of contemporary works from the 1960s onwards, by both Portuguese and international artists, is housed in a sleek white building designed by Pritzker Prize winner Alvaro Siza Vieira, a leading figure in the modernist architectural movement known as the ‘School of Porto’.

queirozThe Portuguese writer Eça de Queiroz (pictured) was one of the nineteenth century’s greatest novelists. His satirical novel The City and the Mountains, the second part of which takes place in the Douro, will appeal to contemporary readers seeking fulfilment far from their cities.

Rereading recently Margaret Jull Costa’s excellent translation of Eça de Queiroz’s satirical novel The City and the Mountains, I found the account of Jacinto’s transformation from Paris sophisticate to Douro gentleman farmer just as enchanting as on my first reading.

rothschildWineLabelWhen I was twenty, I was given the unexpected opportunity to spend a month working on the legendary Bordeaux wine estate Château Lafite Rothschild, writes James Mayor

In London I had been working for the genial Richard who ran a direct selling wine company with the promising name of ‘Wine as You Like It’. London was a huge market of thirsty punters and we went for them with our range of cheerful wines. There was no doubt about it, they certainly ‘liked it’!

cockburnsPortIn July, Cockburn’s, the largest of the port wine lodges, opened its new visitor’s centre, creating probably Porto’s most exciting wine experience.

Founded just over two hundred years ago, in the same year as Waterloo - 1815 - the venerable port firm of Cockburn’s has opened a spectacular visitor’s centre in its warehouses in Vila Nova da Gaia, the Porto suburb home to the port industry’s lodges.

PortBarellsOn my way to the Douro the other day, I stopped off in Vila Nova de Gaia to check out the site of Europe’s most ambitious wine cultural project, the World of Wine. The brain child of The Fladgate Partnership CEO, Adrien Bridge, World of Wine will open in June 2020.

Vila Nova de Gaia is the Porto ‘suburb’ home to the port lodges whose red-roofed cellars face the city of Porto like so many rows of vines in the autumn. It is here that port wines have traditionally been aged after being carried down the racing waters of the River Douro in flat bottom boats known as rabelos.

toddlerhandsIt is no exaggeration to say that the past week has been particularly rich in horrifying events. In America, Spain and Portugal, the summer holiday season has been polluted by emotions of fear, hate and anguish.