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On August 30th, 2018, in Vila Nova de Gaia, the new project of Real Companhia Velha opened its doors, with a visit centre, a museum, a bar, shops, tastings and restaurants: the 17•56 Museu & Enoteca (Museum & Enoteca) is located close to the Cais de Gaia (Gaia Pier). It is a modern, welcoming place, where the wine is highlighted and where it is the dishes that accompany the choice of nectars. And there is so much to choose from: both in terms of wine and in terms of food.
The 17•56 Museu & Enoteca of the Real Companhia Velha is a unique space created by the most ancient Portuguese company, uninterruptedly working for almost 262 years, in one of the old warehouses in Gaia. It is located on the banks of the river Douro, at the Cais de Gaia (Gaia Pier), with two entrances: Alameda da Rua Serpa Pinto, 44B or Avenida Ramos Pinto. At the Museum, you can learn more on the history of the company and that of Port and Douro wines. It is from the Enoteca that you have, on the terrace, a very beautiful view on to the city of Porto.
On the entrance floor, you can find the Wine Shop, the Tasting Room and the 1st Demarcation Museum. The museum space is divided into six chapters, hence telling the story of the oldest demarcated and regulated region in the world – the Douro region – which is umbilically connected to the history of Real Companhia Velha.
Throughout the space of the Museum, a historical journey can be made, through the numerous objects and documents – which are part of the estate of the company – where the Royal Charter, signed by D. José I on September 10th, 1756, under the auspices of the Marquês de Pombal (Marquis of Pombal), stands out. It is exhibited in its original version; but, in order not to deteriorate, it has two digital versions, which can be flicked through.
Throughout the exhibition, you will find historical bottles and explanations which accompany some of the most important world events. The name comes from the date of the institution of the Companhia Geral da Agricultura das Vinhas do Alto Douro (Company for Agriculture and Vineyard of the Alto Douro region) (also called Real Companhia Velha), i.e., the same date as the First Demarcation of the Alto Douro: 1756, more precisely on September 10th.
The 17•56 Museu & Enoteca of the Real Companhia Velha is a space of 3.000 m2, divided into two floors. If below one can find the museum, the tasting room and the shop, it is above that wine and gastronomy merge and present themselves in a very charming and special place: the Enoteca 17•56, which operates in an open space, with several cosy corners and various gastronomic possibilities. The wine list has 300 references (as there is more than one harvest per wine) of the Real Companhia Velha and some of the best wines in Portugal will be available in the section “Carta dos Amigos” (“List of Friends”); there are also nectars from important regions of the Old World. In total, the wine list exceeds 500 references. And wine is, in fact, the focus of this whole project.
To accompany the extensive list of nectars, there are different gastronomic proposals: – the Fromagerie Portuguesa (Portuguese Fromagerie), which presents a selection of fifty national and international types of cheese, which may be eaten on site or bought to be taken home; – the traditional cuisine, with fish and seafood, assured by a chef and the team of Real Companhia Velha; – the Porto restaurant Reitoria guarantees the gourmet sandwiches and the steakhouse, with varied matured meats; – and Shiko, a raw bar – also a restaurant in Porto represented here – of Japanese inspiration.
Overlooking the city of Porto, this sophisticated space has a lounge area, a cigar club (for cigar lovers, in harmony with Port Wine), two private rooms (for wine tasting or meetings) and a panoramic terrace.
“This is a project we have dreaming of for years, if not decades. Naturally, we will maintain our facilities and Port Wine Cellars in Rua Azevedo de Magalhães, also in Vila Nova de Gaia, with an increasingly dynamic circuit of visits and tastings, but having a visit centre by the river will take us to another level of (re)acknowledgement, particularly among foreign visitors, who are more and more numerous”, states Pedro Silva Reis, Head of the Real Companhia Velha. “With this space, we have the ambition of becoming a reference in the international circuit of wine lovers”, he adds.
Text by Susana Ribeiro (https://www.viajecomigo.com)
Photos by Real Companhia Velha and Susana Ribeiro
Museu & Enoteca 17.56 contacts and booking (here)