TripAdvisor has once again awarded Graham’s 1890 Port Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia with a “Certificate of Excellence” for receiving consistently good reviews from its visitors on the online platform.
TripAdvisor is a travel website that provides user-generated reviews of places and attractions worldwide and besides awarding Graham’s with the Certificate of Excellence, TripAdvisor have also rated Graham’s Lodge as the number one “thing to do” in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Although now open to tourism, Graham’s Lodge still plays a fundamental part in the ageing of all of the company’s Port, as it did when it was built in 1890. Situated on a hilltop overlooking the twin cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, a trip to the region is not complete without a visit to the lodge and a tasting of Graham’s Port.
W & J Graham’s 1890 Lodge has once again received international accolades, this time from the “Great Wine Capitals”, a network of ten major cities around the world which aims to promote travel, education, and business exchanges between the most prestigious wine regions in the world. The Graham’s Lodge was awarded the “Best of Wine Tourism 2015” in the category of “Wine Tourism Services” for outstanding offerings in the fields of service, innovation, creativity and authenticity.
Coupled to that, the well known Spanish wine enthusiasts website, Vinopack.es has listed Graham’s Lodge shop as one of the twelve most spectacular in the world. The list, featuring architecturally diverse spaces from around the world specifically praises the historic lodge, whose renovation was overseen by the architect Luis Loureiro and designer Nuno Gusmão. Their work has been recognised for its minimalist style which has successfully transformed the historic building without losing the authenticity or uniqueness of the space.
Also mentioned in the list are the flagship of the Société des alcools du Québec in Montreal, Vintage Fine Wines of Manhattan, New York, and Altaya Wine’s “Etc” in Hong Kong. It is an honour to see Vila Nova de Gaia among the names of some of the world’s greatest cities.
The lodge is going from strength to strength since opening its doors only two years ago, also receiving a “Certificate of Excellence” from “Trip Advisor” for consistent excellent reviews from local and international visitors.
The news of the award from “Great Wine Capitals” comes only a year after the restaurant and wine bar Vinum, located in the heart of the Graham’s lodge, was awarded the “Best of Wine Tourism 2014” in the “Wine Restaurants” category. Vinum has also been voted the “restaurant revelation” of the year in the “best of 2014” by the readers of the highly influential Portuguese food blog, “Flavors & Senses”, and was distinguished by one of Portugal’s leading wine magazines, “Revista de Vinhos”, in the restaurant category of its “best of 2013”.
A special mention must be made of the multi-national team of expert guides without whom this award would not have been possible. In constant training with both our viticulture team in the Graham’s quintas and our wine makers, the staff have first hand knowledge of all aspects of port. Our team is currently comprised of 11 different nationalities: Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Danish, German, and Dutch.
The “Best of Wine Tourism” awards are internationally renowned as a celebration of excellence and innovation in worldwide wine tourism. And so it is with great pride that Graham’s receives these honours, as they bear witness to the hard work and effort put into the W & J Graham’s 1890 Lodge since its refurbishment.
The Vinopack.es list can be found in full at: http://www.vinopack.es/las-12-tiendas-de-vinos-mas-espectaculares-del-mundo
On the 12th of November the restaurant and wine bar Vinum, located in the heart of W & J Graham’s historic 1890 Lodge, launched the second edition of the gastronomic event Jornadas do Boi.
Aiming to celebrate the autumn flavours found in the traditional cooking of Trás-os-Montes, one of the inland provinces of Northern Portugal, the menu is composed of the strong, hearty flavours that make the food from this region famous.
The centrepiece of the menu is the boi velho, 7 to 8 year old field reared cattle The two animals, weighing 1278 and 1330kg, were selected because of their exceptional quality by Imanol Jaca, one of the worlds most respected butchers, having worked with chefs and restaurants worldwide. The aged meat, from extraordinary animals, is lightly salted and grilled. Served with red peppers, the simplicity of the dish is captivating, as is the taste.
Of course, the ingredients in the rest of the menu are also exquisite, from the fresh cannellini beans, to the stone milled flour that makes Vinum’s bread, each element of the meal is the best there is to offer.
The wines suggested to accompany the meal are the Altano 2013 white, Quinta do Vesuvio 2009 red, and to finish, the Quinta dos Malvedos 2001 Vintage Port. Of course, as Vinum is situated literally meters away from 3,500 ageing casks of Graham’s most precious wines, the exceptional Portuguese cheeses (and English Stilton) and chocolate truffles can be accompanied by a port of your choosing, served by the cup.
Available every day until the 5th of December, the complete menu, consists of:
Dried codfish (bacalhau) salad,
Stewed Iberian pigs trotter and ear with cannellini beans,
Trás-os-Montes rib steak with seasonal red pepper,
Sitting in the Vintage Room at Graham’s Lodge earlier this week, Mike Colameco, American celebrity chef, tasted Graham’s 20 Years Old Tawny Port and groaned with delight. “My mind just started racing with ideas for food pairings,” he said afterwards. He listed a series of exquisite dishes that he thought would pair well with this port, including lentil-based dishes, succulent meats and other savoury dishes. This was a real revelation. The joy of the world of food and wine is that the possibilities are endless and always changing.
Mike Colameco, is host of ‘Mike Colameco’s Real Food’ and ‘Weekend Food Talk’, which air on TV and radio across America. He visited Vinum Restaurant this week as part of his tour of Portugal in order to cook with Head Chef Celme as part of a new series of programmes he is filming.
His trip is in partnership with Wines of Portugal (Vini Portugal), who have ensured that Mike is introduced to the top food and wine spots across the country. His next engagement was to catch a boat to take him up the Douro Valley but not before he had got in the kitchen with the award winning Vinum team.
Celme introduced Mike to some typical Portuguese dishes and house specialities. He expressed his admiration for the Vinum kitchen, murmuring on one occasion, “I wish I had a kitchen like this.” On the menu were ‘Alheira’ (Portuguese smoked sausage) with roasted peppers, Bacalhau (Cod) steaks in kale soup, and Vinum’s signature prime rib-eye steak grilled on the open fire.
Mike’s dynamism was infectious. He enthused about the supreme quality of the cod and the beef, massaging it and exclaiming, “just look at that marbling.” He spoke very highly of all the ingredients in the kitchen as he was introduced to the delights of Portuguese cuisine.
After his work in the kitchen he settled back with Rupert Symington on the terrace at Vinum with a glass of Graham’s Six Grapes and some dark chocolate truffles. This popular pairing was, he said, perfect – and we would happen to agree. It is also exciting to hear though that one of America’s top chefs sees the opportunity for an innovative and exotic future for Port and food pairing. Our mouths are watering with anticipation.
One year ago today, on the 21st March 2013, we officially inaugurated the newly renovated Graham’s Lodge and Vinum Restaurant & Wine Bar. Looking back, it has been a year of which we can be proud.
The Symington family’s partnership with Sagardi family has proved extremely successful. The Symington family has created an outstanding wine list, including their own Douro wines and ports as well as those of other winemakers with whom they have close relationships, from Portugal and around the world. While at the same time, Sagardi has brought together the best of traditional Portuguese cuisine with a cosmopolitan touch. The result is a menu, a wine list and a team that has now, already, made Vinum one of the top gastronomic destinations in the north of Portugal.
One of the year’s culinary highlights was the Boi de Trás os Montes menu prepared last autumn. Two oxen were specially selected from farmers in the Trás os Montes region (which literally means, Behind the Mountains): this is one of Portugal’s most exciting and relatively undiscovered culinary regions. This seasonal menu that was designed to accompany the meat celebrated the local ingredients of the region and the Portuguese wines that perfectly complement them.
There is no better place to be in Porto or in Vila Nova de Gaia when the sun is shining than the terrace outside Vinum with a glass of wine and tapas. Vinum’s mission is to set the standard for outstanding Portuguese cuisine, and the signs are so far very positive. Portugal’s food and wine are still relatively new on the international gastronomic scene. Thanks to projects like Vinum Restaurant, though, the country is starting to gain the reputation it deserves.
Vinum has recently received two important awards. First, it won the Best of Wine Tourism award for Best Portuguese Restaurant, in the Great Wine Capitals competition. Then second, at the annual Revista de Vinhos awards ceremony in Portugal, Vinum was named Best Restaurant of the Year 2013.
These two accolades are wonderful milestones by which to measure the Restaurant’s achievements over the last year. Really what they reflect though, is the passion and dedication to fine Portuguese food and wine that the whole of the Vinum team has embodied in their work in the last year. It is this that has built Vinum’s reputation as one of the best Portuguese restaurants around.
Find out more about Vinum, the menu or make a reservation here.
Georg Riedel, the 10th generation of crystal glass makers in his family, held a unique tasting at Graham’s Lodge last week revealing how the shape of the wineglass influences the flavours and aromas of the wine.
The tasting showcased Riedel’s innovative Grape Varietal Specific range of glasses and was hosted at the Lodge by Portfolio Vinhos, distributors of Graham’s Port and Riedel’s glassware in Portugal.
By guiding participants through a tasting of three grape varieties, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet and Pinot Noir, Georg Riedel illustrated the crucial role that the glass plays in showing the wine at its best.
The reason for this is that the aromas of the wine are conveyed differently depending on the design of the glass and the size of its aperture: different varieties express themselves best in glasses of different shapes. Georg Riedel illustrated this by leading a tasting of the wines first in the same plastic mug, in which their characteristics were dulled and their individual expressiveness reduced. When in the glass specifically designed for them, however, each wine sang strongly and in its own unique way.
Likewise, the size of the aperture determines exactly where on the palate the wine is directed. The human palate has specific areas for sensing each of the principle components of taste. The right glass allows the natural balance of the wine’s flavours to be properly felt.
Following months of careful preparation, the VINUM restaurant at Graham’s opened its doors to the public on February 19th. The VINUM Restaurant & Wine Bar forms an integral part of Graham’s renovated 1890 Lodge, sections of which have already opened to visitors. The new visitors’ centre — ‘Graham’s 1890 Lodge’ — will be formally inaugurated on the 21st of March. This is a full working Port Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia and especially attractive in that it now offers its visitors a restaurant and wine bar. Graham’s has teamed up with SAGARDI, www.gruposagardi.com , internationally recognized as specialists in wine-related gastronomy at the very highest level. At VINUM, you are presented with ideal food pairings for the Symington family’s extensive range of Douro and Port wines. The entrées, main courses and desserts are specially created to accompany these wines.
VINUM’S Portuguese team will strive from the outset to create wonderful food from all the best natural ingredients that can be produced in, and sourced from, the North of Portugal, including of course, the Douro Valley and from the cold and clean deep waters of the neighbouring Atlantic Ocean. The Portuguese Atlantic coast has a world reputation as a source of some of the world’s very best seafood. Fresh fish will be served daily from the day’s catch, obtained from the local Matosinhos fishing harbour.
Vinum’s setting is very much in the Lodge environment. To one side, once sat down at their table, diners can view the seemingly endless rows of pipes, separated from the restaurant by a clever, discreet metal and glass screen. On the opposite side there is the large bulk of the Lodge’s granite walls. Elegant iron columns support the attractive original Riga pine timbers and roofing; their seasoned tones casting an inviting, soft golden light over the tables. In short, a very atmospheric surrounding in which to enjoy delicious meals with some wonderful wines.
The restaurant comfortably seats up to 90 people and a further 64 in the adjoining Atrium terrace. If required, an additional 16 people can be accommodated at the chef’s private table. VINUM is open all year round, serving lunch and dinner, as well as light snacks and wine by the glass in the wine bar.
The Atrium: The VINUM restaurant also features a very attractive external covered seating area, on the terrace adjoining the main Lodge façade and known as ‘The Atrium.’ This terrace has one of the very best views of any restaurant in Gaia and Porto. Given the Graham’s Lodge location on high ground, it commands expansive views of the old medieval quarters of Porto and Gaia, as well as the iconic Dom Luis ‘double-decker’ bridge over the Douro River. This view is spectacular both during the day and at night, when all the medieval landmarks are beautifully floodlit. This terrace can furthermore be enjoyed in all weathers as a well designed, graceful conservatory type structure allows for year-round usage and therefore, come rain or sunshine, VINUM’S diners can always enjoy the remarkable vistas.
The Wine bar: with its stylish and carefree bistro ambience, visitors can enjoy a variety of snacks (‘tapas’, ‘pintxos’, sweet pastries) and wine by the glass, seated on tall stools around the bar itself or at small round tables. There is also an outside, open air terrace, ideal for enjoying Porto’s year round sunshine with a chilled white wine or perhaps a lightly chilled Old Tawny Port.
Bring your family and friends and pay us a visit at Vinum; we are confident you will be impressed. Why not come before lunch and visit our museum and lodge, enjoy an appetizer at the wine bar and then progress to the restaurant proper to sample Vinum’s superb gastronomy?
If you would like to book a table please ring +351 220 930 417 or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
November was a very busy month for Graham’s, as work continues at the partially renovated 1890 Lodge, where the most complete Port visitors’ centre is taking shape in Vila Nova de Gaia. Sections of the refurbished building, including a new reception, museum and shop, were opened to the public on November 12th. It was with great pleasure that Ana Rodrigues and her team welcomed the very first visitors — Adalberto Andriolo Junior and Tatiana Pereira de Sousa from São Paulo in Brazil. As our first visitors, Adalberto and Tatiana were given a comprehensive tour of the museum, which charts the history of the Graham and Symington families, illustrating how they made Graham’s into the renowned company it is today.
Interestingly perhaps for Adalberto and Tatiana, in the 19th century Brazil was one of the leading markets for Port and records show that during the second half of the 1800s, it was the second biggest market, straight after Great Britain. For example, in 1867 total shipments of Port to “The Brazils” were 6,449 Pipes (or nearly 5 million bottles), growing to 9,612 pipes just two years later. Graham’s, which at that time was already one of the largest exporters of Port, is again working hard to build its presence in Brazil, where demand for fine Port is once again a reality.
We hope Adalberto and Tatiana will return to visit us again in the not too distant future. When they next visit, they will be able to enjoy the food and wine at the new VINUM restaurant in the 1890 Lodge, due to open during the first half of February, 2013. Besides the great food and wines, the VINUM will be blessed with one of the very best views over the twin cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
The Graham’s Lodge has been open to visitors since 1993, It featured a tasting area where visitors could enjoy Port, and an adjoining shop and wine bar. On arrival at the lodge, visitors were given a guided tour of the working lodge, where 3,500 casks (or ‘pipes’, in Port language) of maturing Port are stored. The visit also included the cool, dark Vintage ‘bins’ (wine cellars) where older Graham’s Vintage Ports are kept (some Ports, such as the 1868 still lie there).
In early 2011, as the numbers of visitors inexorably grew, year on year — benefitting no doubt from the fact Porto was (and is) growing in popularity as a tourist destination — the Symington family decided to invest in the renovation of the lodge, not just to accommodate the ever increasing numbers of visitors, but also — and more importantly — to provide them with a much more interesting experience during their visit.
The company’s own architect, Luís Loureiro was given the challenge of undertaking this task and in late November 2011 the building works began. It is quite extraordinary to witness how far the renovation project has progressed in just under one year. Luís has had to face all sorts of difficulties and it is to his credit that he and his team have achieved so much in such a short time-span. In essence then, how will the new Lodge Visitors’ Centre differ from the one it is replacing?
THE GRAHAM’S 1890 LODGE – partially opened on November 12th
The renovated Lodge is called the ‘1890 LODGE’. This was the year in which the then owners (the Scottish Graham’s family) built a much larger lodge to replace a previous building which their successful expansion had outgrown, since founding the company some 70 years earlier. The 1890 Lodge will provide visitors with a much more comprehensive and rewarding experience:
1). Visitors enter by a roomy new reception area where they will be checked in and then shown into an auditorium where a short film will introduce them to Graham’s.
2). Graham’s Museum: adjoining the reception hall, there is a brand new Graham’s Museum which tells the visitor the story of the Symington family’s long involvement in Port, as well as the history of Graham’s; the underlying theme is, “The Story of Two Port Families: the Graham’s and the Symingtons”. The museum is relatively compact but is beautifully laid out and includes some very attractive artefacts on display. For example, there is a set of calibrating measures, dating from 1770 that were used both in the Douro Quintas and in the Lodges in Gaia. Besides artefacts, documents, objects, etc linked to the Port trade as a whole, as well as to the Graham and Symington families, there is also a sequential display of Port’s journey from vineyard to bottle, from the Douro Valley to the Gaia Lodges.
3). One level down from the museum, visitors will enter the lodge proper. Not a great deal has been done here simply because we want visitors to experience what a full working lodge is all about, not some artificial, fancy cosmetically altered space. If anything, we have retraced what the original 19th century Lodge was like, reintroducing more of the earth floors and typical Portuguese cobbled corridors in some of the main passageways. Lodge floors were traditionally left with an earth surface so that they could be hosed with water in the hotter summer months in order to keep the ambient temperature as cool as possible. Besides the thousands of maturing casks, holding everything from Graham’s Six Grapes to Graham’s 20 Years of Age Tawny and the old single year tawnies (Colheitas) such as the 1961, 1969 and the Diamond Jubilee 1952, visitors can also access the Vintage Port cellars where Graham’s legendary Vintages of the 19th and 20thcenturies are kept under lock and key, behind wrought iron gates (visible but just out of reach!).
4). Following the guided tour through the Lodge, visitors will then be shown into the renovated tasting room, where they can take a load off their feet to taste a range of Graham’s Ports (several combinations, or ‘wine flights’ are on offer). Here visitors can quietly sip away, attended by knowledgeable staff at hand to clarify any queries concerning the Ports they are drinking. The renovation of this area is underway and temporary facilities are in place to cater for visitors meanwhile.
5). The ‘Vintage Room’: for a more exclusive and complete experience, the more discerning visitor can choose to access the Vintage Room, where a different level of Port tastings are provided in a more tranquil and comfortable atmosphere. The beautifully decorated room, with a touch of understated English elegance will allow the visitor to taste premium and super premium Graham’s Ports, including some older Vintages and Colheita Wines, difficult to find elsewhere. Port and food pairing will also be offered (such as chocolate with different styles of Port).
6). Visitors exiting either the tasting room or Vintage Room will then be shown into the all new shop which is much roomier and pleasant than the one it replaces. The shop is set very much in the old Lodge building, adjoining the lodges main stone façade, whose large windows light up the shop with natural light, as well as offering magnificent views over the twin cities of Porto and Gaia, and the River Douro. The design of the new shop is much more interactive and ‘hands-on’, there is no counter separating customers from the bottles, as was previously the case. Customers can wander around casually, and pick up bottles at their leisure. Friendly staff is on hand to answer any questions. The new shop will build on the convenience of a home delivery service (for those preferring not to carry their purchases home with them).
7). Tired and hungry after all that wandering around the Lodge? Why not enjoy a light meal in the completely new wine bar, or better still, a full meal in the new ‘VINUM’RESTAURANT? Both of these adjoin the shop and will be extremely attractive, once concluded. The setting is very much the Lodge ambience itself. To one side, once sat down at their table, guests can view the endless rows of pipes (separated from the restaurant by a very clever and discreet metal and glass screen).
On the opposite side there is the large bulk of the Lodge’s granite walls. Original large iron columns support the attractive Riga pine timbers and roofing. In short, a very atmospheric surrounding in which to enjoy meals with some wonderful wines. The VINUM restaurant will also feature a very attractive outdoor seating area, on the terrace adjoining the main Lodge façade. This terrace has what we believe to be one of the best views of any restaurant in Gaia and Porto. Given the Graham’s Lodge location on very high ground (the vast majority of Port Lodges are built along the river front), it commands sweeping views of the old medieval quarters of Porto and Gaia, as well as the iconic Dom Luis ‘double-decker’ bridge over the Douro River. This view is spectacular both during the day and at night, when all the city’s beautiful landmarks are impressively floodlit.
This terrace can furthermore be enjoyed in all weathers as a well-designed ‘conservatory’ type structure is being built, so come rain or sunshine, VINUM’S patrons can always take in the remarkable vistas.
Timings for the opening of the new Graham’s 1890 Lodge:
We envisage the opening of the restaurant in early February 2013 (staff is currently undergoing training and menus are being tested). The new reception, museum, shop and Vintage Room are already in use. The new tasting room will be ready during January, 2013. Thus, given that the various sections are opening at different times, a formal inauguration of the new Lodge will only happen during February 2013.
We will be keeping you up to speed on fresh developments over the next few weeks, as well as providing more in-depth descriptions of the various sections and facilities of the magnificent 1890 LODGE.
One of the most exciting features of the renovations at Graham’s Lodge will be the opening of a restaurant. Whilst we have previously offered dining and special events by private booking, we are looking forward to welcoming the public to our new restaurant during Lodge opening hours and in the evenings.
Originally the area at the front of the building was the dock for deliveries of port, whether new port wines arriving from the Douro at the end of the winter, or outgoing deliveries of finished Ports in cask ready to be shipped around the world. More recently there has been a simple veranda but it was not an integral part of the visitor tour or public space.
Now, the area behind the veranda is being re-designed and will include the new shop, a private tasting room, a tapas bar, a restaurant, and a “chef’s table” area adjacent to the kitchen where we will hold exclusive Port tasting and food pairing events.
The restaurant seating area will extend onto the veranda itself, which will be enclosed in a glass conservatory, so our visitors and diners can enjoy the magnificent view up river year round and in all weathers. The Graham’s Lodge, situated as it is high on the hill at a bend in the river, has a unique and spectacular view of both the Porto and Gaia waterfronts and historic landmarks such as the Dom Luis Bridge, designed by Téophile Seyrig, a one-time partner of Gustav Eiffel, the Sé Cathedral and the Serra do Pilar Monastery, where General Wellesley (better known as the Duke of Wellington) had headquarters during the Peninsular Wars. Whilst our visitors have always enjoyed this view during the day, with the opening of the restaurant they will be able to see just how magical it is at night as well.
We look forward to welcoming you to our restaurant when the works are complete, later this year. Keep in touch with Graham’s through the Blog, Facebook and Twitter for news of the opening and more details about the dining and wine tasting experiences we will be offering.
Note: you can click on any photo to view it full size, then use your browser Back button to return to the blog text.