Portugal,  travel

Discovering the Douro Hospitality with Bulas Family Estates

A Warm, Wine Welcome at Bulas Estates

It has been said that first impressions are everything.  First impressions set the tone for the rest of the relationship and/or experience.  When I traveled to Portugal, I stopped in Lisbon and I did also spend a day or so seeing the lively city of Porto.  However, when my visit to the Douro Valley of Portugal commenced with Team Douro, the Bulas Family Estates facilitated my first real experience with the land, the people, the food and the wines.  To say that I was blown away or impressed, would be an understatement.  Perhaps, awestruck, astounded, or even flabbergasted are better choices to describe how I felt when saw the land.  I then felt that all over again when I tasted the food and wine at Bulas.
Bulas Family Estates is an award-winning producer located in the Upper Corgo region on the right bank of the Douro river.  This makes for an excellent location for wine production, as it is at the confluence of three rivers: Ceira, Gouvinhas, Sabrosa, and the area has also been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its beauty.  Bulas has two Quintas, Quinta FozCeira and Quinta da Costa de Baixo, which have been producing grapes since 1256. The views are absolutely breathtaking and are forever etched in my memory. 
Views surrounding Bulas’ Quinta da Costa de Baixo

Team Douro Photo by Bruno Barreto

Bulas has a rich history, but it is also rich in hospitality.  From the initial interaction, I could feel their warmth and kindhearted nature. The enologist, Joana Duarte, even came to transport some of our team members in her car.  It was awesome to meet a female winemaker on this trip, as the women have really been taking the lead in the Douro. Joana’s smile was inviting and I just knew we were in for a treat! 
Winemaker, Joana Duarte and Bulas Owner, José Bulas Cruz
Joana, José and his wife
Our brief tour left me on an emotional high, that was only magnified by the marvelous lunch they prepared for us.  Lunch at Bulas was one of the best meals, if not the best meal, I enjoyed while in the Douro. I can still taste it now! 
Bulas Douro DOC White (Vinho Branco) 2015 is a white wine blend made from traditional Portuguese grapes: Viosinho, Códega de Larinho, Rabigato Moreno and Malvasia, all grown in schist soil.  The grapes are hand-harvested and aged in stainless steel tanks. On the nose is a lovely, tropical bouquet of passion fruit and apricots, with a hint of minerality.  The palate is fresh and persistent with green apple and white fruit.  Balanced, with a long finish. 13.5% ABV
Beef Tripe Stew at Bulas
Bulas Douro DOC Reserva Tinto 2012  is a delicious red wine made from old Touriga Nacional vines, which spent 9 months in French oak barrels.  Bulas Reserva Tinto is dark ruby in appearance, with loads of fruit, such as cherry, raspberry on the nose. The palate is smooth, with more red fruit and dark chocolate.  Soft tannins and a lingering finish. 14% ABV
Bulas’ Reserva Tinto was paired with a fantastic dish of roasted lamb.  This lamb, was outstanding, and likely the best lamb dish I have ever tasted.  The succulent lamb, potatoes and vegetables were all roasted to perfection. My mouth waters every time I reflect on this day and/or see the photo!
Bulas 20 Anos Tawny Port wine, made with Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca grapes, is aged for approximately 20 years in oak casks.  This tawny Port is has a medium-brown color with rich aromas of wood and taffy.  The palate is powerful with flavors of spicy figs and clove.  This port was a nice, warm, relaxing after-dinner sip-perfect for taking in more of the Douro landscape. 20% ABV.  Wow! 

We actually saw Bulas and got to taste their wines again a few days later, along with some other producers at a Town Hall tasting in Vila Real.

Joana Duarte and Isabel Vieira of Bulas Family Estates

“By producing wines of exceptional quality, which capture the essence of the Douro in a sustainable way, the Bulas family keeps the tradition and preserves the culture and heritage of this extraordinary and unique wine region.” ~Bulas Family Estates

The awesome views of the Douro around Bulas, the people, the food and the wine really set the bar for this trip and provided an exquisite experience. I cannot reiterate enough the genuine warmth and hospitality extended to me and my friends by the Bulas Family Estates.  Despite the accolades received from their excellent quality wines and their spectacular views, the people of Bulas are kind and humble. They are a family estate, and I felt as if I were at home with my family while visiting.

When visiting the Douro, do not miss Bulas–it is quite the experience!

Come back, as I will be posting more about my experiences and discovery of the oldest demarcated region in the world (1756), Douro DOC, Portugal.

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Planted, harvested and aged in NY. I have a background in education and marketing, with a love and passion for travel...and all things wine. In addition to writing about wine, I also maintain an online wine boutique (thewininghour.com) that caters to the winelover, as well as the weekly vinous winechat (#WiningHourChat) on Twitter (see page for more info).

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