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Decanter’s Dream Destination: The Yeatman, Porto, Portugal

Every month Decanter selects a must-visit destination for wine travellers. Head to Portugal’s vinous capital for a resort-style stay that showcases fine wine and Michelin-star dining. Alicia Miller pays a visit to The Yeatman and recommends local highlights.

There are cities with a wine scene – and then there’s Porto. Wine is in its DNA. For centuries inky fortified Port has been aged right here, in the cool riverside warehouses of Vila Nova de Gaia.

In recent years, as the UNESCO-listed city has moved from shabby to chic, visitors have poured in. And among the soaring historic billboards advertising Sandeman and Croft, there has been a shift.

Cool restaurants, cutting-edge museums and exclusive places to stay have cropped up in the old cobbled streets, ushering in a new era of tourism. Among them is The Yeatman, the ultimate Portuguese wine hotel.

A modern, window-lined resort on garden slopes in Vila Nova de Gaia, The Yeatman overlooks the jumble of Porto’s old town – a view most mesmerising when taken in at dusk from the terrace of your suite. The immediate surrounds are equally special, particularly for wine lovers.

Pass the Port

The hotel is a cork’s toss from the historic Taylor’s Port warehouse and its tasting room. This is no accident. The Yeatman is named after Taylor Fladgate & Yeatman, one of the biggest names in Port and the owner of the hotel.

This stay is not just some Taylor’s branding exercise however. Rather, it is a democratic vinous celebration that champions top Portuguese wines of many kinds. Each one of the 109 bedrooms is named after a lauded local producer, with bottles and other memorabilia dotting the butter-hued interiors.

There is a superbly stocked wine shop and multiple in-house cellars. One of these hosts tutored tastings and winemaker masterclasses. A Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa is on site, too, where antioxidant-rich grape products make an appearance in facials and massages. Descend down a vine-lined spiral staircase to its soothing embrace, then have your body buffed with a Cabernet scrub or soak in a tranquil ‘barrel bath’ overlooking the city.

Tempting tastings

The Yeatman’s vinous highlight, though, is its Gastronomic Restaurant. Book well ahead for the two-star Michelin tasting menu from chef Ricardo Costa. Expect eel with panko breadcrumbs or suckling pig with soufflé potato crisps. Opt for the wine pairings and you’ll sample some unconventional pours, such as whites from the Azores.

Alternatively choose your own bottle from Porto’s finest list. There are 1,300 labels, 94% of them Portuguese. As you’d expect, Port is strongly represented, and older vintages are opened by your sommelier with suitable theatre using searing hot tongs.

While you’ll have the opportunity to taste many of Portugal’s finest wines here, nothing beats sampling at the source. Staff can arrange day trips into the nearby Douro Valley to the most exclusive of quintas; for example, Quinta do Vesuvio, which is open by appointment only.

Local attractions

A speedy boat transfer across the Douro River can also be arranged, so you can explore Porto’s old town within minutes, with no need to traverse the soaring Dom Luís I bridge. The Yeatman can also tailor experiences at WOW, the cultural district next door that’s also owned by Taylor’s.

WOW, the World of Wine, is perhaps the greatest new reason for oenophiles to book into this stay. With seven museums and a dozen restaurants and bars, it is an adult Disneyland with wine at its heart. Tour a fabulous interactive wine museum, explore how corks are made or plunge into a pink ball pit in an outrageous exhibition on rosé (cheesy, but great fun). It’s all less than five-minutes’ walk from The Yeatman.

That means, after a day of exploring, you’re just five minutes away from a sundowner on your private terrace. Or a dip in one of the hotel’s two panoramic infinity pools. Or a quiet read in The Yeatman’s library, with something delicious to sip in hand. When it comes to city wine tourism, you can’t beat that.

For more information visit The Yeatman.

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