A whole month dedicated to the discovery of Port
Here below a unique selection on PORT wines, something we have never been able to offer before! We managed to put together the probably most prestigious producers of this very special wine such as: Quinta Do Noval, Fonseca’s, Graham’s, Taylor’s and more. But let’s quickly recall what’s so special about port wines:
Port is produced from grapes grown and processed in the Douro region. It is a fortified wine, by the addition of a neutral grape spirit known as aguardente to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sugar in the wine, and to boost the alcohol content. The fortification spirit is sometimes referred to as brandy, but it bears little resemblance to commercial brandies. The wine is then stored and aged, often in barrels stored in cellars, before being bottled. The wine received its name, "port", in the latter half of the 17th century from the seaport city of Porto at the mouth of the Douro River, where much of the product was brought to market or for export to other countries in Europe.
Over a hundred varieties of grapes (in Portuguese - castas) are used for the production of port wines, although only five (Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional) are widely cultivated and used. Touriga Nacional is widely considered the most desirable port grape but the difficulty in growing it and the small yields cause Touriga Francesa to be the most widely planted grape. White ports are produced the same way as red ports, except that they use white grapes – Donzelinho Branco, Esgana-Cão, Folgasão, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho. Since the Phylloxera crisis, most vines are grown on grafted rootstock, with the notable exception of the ultra-rare Nacional area of Quinta do Noval, which, since being planted in 1925, has produced some of the most expensive and best vintage ports you will find.
Styles and types of port wine
Ruby - is the most extensively produced type of port. After fermentation, it is stored in tanks of concrete or stainless steel to prevent oxidative aging and preserve its bright red colour and full-bodied fruitiness. The wine is fined and cold filtered before bottling and does not generally improve with age, although premium rubies are aged in wood from four to 6 years.
Reserve – is a premium ruby port approved by the IVDP's tasting panel, the Câmara de Provadores. In 2002 the IVDP prohibited the use of the term "vintage character", as reserve ruby port had neither a single vintage nor the typical character of vintage port.
Tawny - are wines usually made from red grapes that are aged in wooden barrels exposing them to gradual oxidation and evaporation. As a result of this oxidation, they mellow to a golden-brown colour. The exposure to oxygen imparts "nutty" flavours to the wine, which is blended to match the house style. They are sweet or medium dry and typically consumed as a dessert wine. When a port is described as tawny, without an indication of age, it is a basic blend of wood-aged port that has spent time in wooden barrels, typically at least three years. Reserve tawny port has been aged about 7 years. The years in wood, is stated on the label, usually 10, 20, 30 or 40 years.
Colheita - is a single-vintage tawny port, aged for at least 7 years. Colheita port should not be confused with vintage port: a vintage port will spend only about 18 months in barrels after harvest and will continue to mature in bottle, but a Colheita may have spent 20 or more years in wooden barrels before being bottled and sold.
Garaffeira - Unusual and rare, vintage-dated Garrafeira combines the oxidative maturation of years in wood with further reductive maturation in large glass demijohns. It is required that wines spend between 3-6 years in wood, followed by at least a further eight years in glass, before bottling. Some connoisseurs describe Garrafeira as having a slight taste of bacon, the reason being that, during the second phase of maturation, certain oils may precipitate, causing a film to form across the surface of the glass. The word Garrafeira may also be found on some very old tawny labels, where the contents of the bottle are of exceptional age.
Late bottled vintage (LBV) - Late bottled vintage (LBV) was originally wine that had been destined for bottling as vintage port. Over time it has become two distinct styles of wine, both of them bottled between four and six years after the vintage, but one style is fined and filtered before bottling, while the other is not. LBV is intended to provide some of the experience of drinking a vintage port but without the need for lengthy bottle ageing. To a limited extent it succeeds, as the extra years of oxidative ageing in barrel does mature the wine more quickly.
LBV unfiltered – Unfiltered LBVs are mostly bottled with conventional driven corks and need to be decanted. After decanting they should be consumed within a few days. Recent bottlings are identified by the label "unfiltered", or "bottle matured", or both.
LBV filtered - The filtered wine has the advantage of being ready to drink without decanting and is usually bottled in a stoppered bottle that can be easily resealed.
Vintage port - Vintage ports may be aged in barrels or stainless steel for a maximum of 2.5 years before bottling, and generally require another 10 to 40 years of aging in the bottle before reaching what is considered a proper drinking age. Particularly fine vintage ports can continue to gain complexity for many decades after they were bottled. It is not uncommon for 19th-century bottles to still be in perfect condition for consumption. The oldest known vintage port still available, is from a shipper is the 1815 Ferreira.
Vintage port is made entirely from the grapes of a specific vintage/year. It is by far the most renowned type of port, but it only accounts for 2% of overall port production and not every vintage will have a vintage port. The decision to declare a vintage is made by each individual port house.
So let’s immerge in this special world and secure yourself some of finest, rarest and also most exclusive port wines you will find on the market – there is something for everyone!