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Mad Dog
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Joined: 28 May 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2005 5:28 pm    Post subject: Port Reply with quote

Found this excellent site with usueful Port info.

A very brief history of Port :

Although the Duoro has been widely planted since the 1600's it originally only produced normal non-fortified wines, which were often extremely harsh and of poor quality.

Then in 1678 the British declared war on France and blockaded French ports which lead to an immediate shortage of wine, and since the British have always been an ally of Portugal they naturally turned to Portugal for their wine needs, establishing trading companies in Oporto to ship the wines back to England.

Under the Methuen Treaty of 1703 in reciprocation for the purchase of cloth by Portugal England agreed to lower Import Duties on Portuguese wines than those of France or Germany, which naturally made Port better value for money than wines from other countries, and hence paved the way for the increased Port imports and the expansion of the the UK Port trade.

How what we now know as 'Port' actually came to be is still a mystery :
- the wine shippers in Portugal originally added a couple of buckets of Brandy to the wine in order to stabilise it during the long sea journey back to England. And it is suggested that in order to speed up the shipping process the shippers started adding the Brandy earlier and earlier in the process until they started adding it during the fermentation.
- or, a story is told of a Liverpool merchant who sent his sons to Portugal in the 1670's to find a source of wine. In the Duoro valley they came across an abbot in a monastery in Lamego who was adding the Brandy during the fermentation process to increase the alcholic content.

Either way someone invented the great idea of adding Brandy during the fermentation process, which stops the development of the wine whilst it is still sweet and fruity, (and naturally strong due to the extra added Brandy).

In 1727 Warre's were instrumental in bringing the British Port Shippers together into an association which was called the 'Factory House'. The purpose was to increase bargaining power with the growers. After only a few years however it failed to meet it's original purpose but in the 1800's became a typical English Club with exclusive membership. It still stands today over 200 years later.

In the 1730's scandal hit the Port trade as some producers and shippers started adding sugar and elderberry juice to the wines instead of Brandy in order to reduce costs. To solve the various allegations and complaints the Marquis de Pombal stepped in and created the Old Wine Company which had extensive powers to regulate production of Port.

Not only could the Old Wine Company regulate the quantities produced, and fix the minimum and maximum prices, but also pass exclusive and final judgement on all disputes. These far reaching powers effectively ended the British monopoly on Port.

In 1756 the Old Wine Company also demarcated the growing region for Port, and as a result ALL of the vineyards and elderberry plantations outside of the demarcated region were destroyed. The Douro valley was the first officially demarcated wine appelation.

Everything was going smoothly until in 1878 the phylloxera louse came to the Douro. The growers had little choice but to graft their vines onto American rootstock to resist the phylloxera. After this major change there were fewer Vintages declared but they were immensely better. There are still a very small number of un-grafted vineyards remaining today, (notably those owned by Quinta do Noval), though Port from these vines command stratospheric prices.

And so it remains until today.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Ruby Port is the basic Port and is made with a blend of several harvest products aged for up to two years. Ruby refers to its color.


Even though the name refers to "Vintage" this category of Port is made, like the "Ruby", from a blend of several vintages. The only real difference is that these Port are aged for a period close to 5 years.


These Port are truly made with a single vintage and are aged for a period which is average 5 years. This category is a step below "Vintage Port" and the wines are made when the Vintage is not good enough to allow the production of real "Vintage Port."


Vintage Port is a high quality single-harvest product. It is generally aged in casks for three years and has to aged as well in the bottle for a longer period before being ready to be enjoyed. Some of these bottles have to age for several decades.


This strange appelation indicates the "crust" of sediments which forms in the bottle. It has been created by an English producer but is not so popular in the markets.

Single Quinta is basically a Vintage Port but made with the grapes coming from a single "Quintas" (Estate). Probably the best among Ports.


This term indicates a blended port aged for several years. This long aging period produce a Red-Garnet color in the Port and sometimes the same result is obtained adding some white Port to a normal Ruby.


It is a Vintage Tawny Port aged at least 7 years in casks.


It is a Tawny Port aged for many years in casks.


This Port is made only with white grape varieties and can be dry or sweet.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

THE PORT WINE WE KNOW TODAY happened slowly. We did not always have the many styles and qualities that we enjoy today. The single biggest development in the advancement Port is the glass bottle. It is the bottle that make vintage Port possible.

Port is one of the most regulated wines made today. The production area was also the first to be so demarcated in 1756. Vineyards are graded by the Instituto do Vinho do Porto (IVP) according and classified into six different categories labeled "A" through "F". There are twelve different physical factors taken into consideration including productivity (the lower the yield, the higher the mark), gradient, aspect, soil, exposure, and vine varieties. Each factor is given a numerical value which is then tallied up. A score of more than 1200 points out of a maximum 1680 points is given an "A". Vineyards scoring less than 200 points are given an "F". As only a certain amount of wine is allowed to be made into Port in any given year, growers are allowed to make a certain amount of Port from their particular vineyards based on the grade they receive. A vineyard with an "A" grade are allowed to make up to 600 liters of Port per 1000 vines. Those with a grade of "F" generally have to pass on the Port market. Surplus grapes are usually made into table wine.

Touriga Nacional grapes
Touriga Nacional Grapes

Port Pipes There are over 90 different varieties of grape permitted to be grown in the Port wine region. Of these, about 30 different varieties can be found there, but only 5 are considered to be of exceptional quality. These are Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão, and Touriga Francesa. White Port, is made from white grapes rather than the aforementioned red grapes — Viosinho, Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Cédega, and Rabigato.

The Touriga Nacional grape is said to be without a doubt, the best grape for making Port. It is not however, the most widely planted variety. It is a vigorous and robust vine, but produces about half the yield as the other grape varieties. This grape gives Port its deep color and longevity.

There are many styles of Port, but two broad categories define Port – bottle aged or cask aged. The two processes produce distinctly different wines. Bottle aged Ports keep their color and generally their fruitiness into their maturity They are aged for a short time in wood and are bottled without filtration where they are meant to mature. Cask aged Ports lose much of their and become tawny in color. These are aged in wood and then filtered and bottled. They are ready to drink right away.

Ruby is the most basic and least expensive style of Port. It is a blend from the produce of several harvests, that spends two to three years in stainless steel or wood before it is bottled. You usually will not see the term Ruby on the label as most shippers prefer to use a house brand.

Dow Vintage Port 1977

Tawny is aged a few years longer than ruby – at least six years – in the cask before it is bottled. Though some tawny is simply a mixture of ruby and white ports, the best tawny Ports have acquired their pale color – an amber brown or tawny hue – from longer wood ageing. The flavor becomes drier and nuttier from the oxidation.

Aged Tawny are the best tawny Ports. They give the average age of the wines that have gone into making the blends. They are available in 10, 20, 30 and 40 year versions with a corresponding increase in price. A 20-year tawny may give you the most enjoyable experience for the price. Aged tawnies are made from high quality wines and are the byproduct of a master blender.

Colheita is a tawny but from a single vintage. It might be though of as a vintage tawny. It must receive a minimum of seven years in wood, but most are aged much longer. Also the wine should indicate the year of bottling and should be drunk within a year of that date. This is the rarest of all Port. Their production, a specialty of the Portuguese Port houses, amounts to less than 0.5% of all Port made.

Royal Oporto White Port

Barrels at Dow White Ports range from very dry to very sweet. The sweetest is designated as Lagrima. These are served straight up or on the rocks, most often as an apéeritif.

Crusted Port is named for the crust of sediment it forms in the bottle. It is a blend of port from several vintages that is bottled after three years in cask.

Vintage Character Ports might also be referred to as Super or Premium Ruby. It is a blend that has been aged from four to six years before it is filtered and bottled. They characteristically have more body and fruit than a tawny but they lack the concentration and complexity of a true vintage Port. These are usually marketed under brand names like Sandeman's Founders Reserve, Warre's Warrior, Graham's 6 Grapes, Fonseca's Bin 27, and Taylor's First Estate.

Single-Quinta Ports are made in both tawny and vintage styles but with the distinction that they come from only one vineyard. They are generally produced in years that are not declared. In declared years, their grapes often form the backbone of the Vintage Port blends.

Graham Port

Port Vintage Chart

Taylor's Vintage Port 1977 Late Bottled Vintage or LBV, unlike Vintage Character, are actually the produce of a single vintage. A vintage not deemed good enough to make a Vintage Port, will go into the making of a LBV. It is left in wood for four to six years, then fined and filtered before bottling. It is ready to drink earlier than Vintage Port and they do throw little sediment in the bottle.

Vintage Port if the finest and most expensive of the Port styles. At most, it accounts for about 2% of all production and is one of the most sought after wines in the world. Vintage Port comes from a single harvest of exceptional quality, as stated on the bottle, and is bottled after two to three years of cask ageing. The wine then spends many years maturing in the bottle. It may take 15 to 50 years for a good Vintage Port to be ready for drinking. Each shipper must decided within two years of a harvest year if that particular year will be of enough quality to be released as a Vintage Port. This is known as "declaring the vintage". The first vintages were declared around 1734. The best vintages from this century include 1994. 1992, 1991, 1985, 1977, 1970, 1963, 1955, 1948, 1945, 1935, 1931, 1927, and 1912. These wines must be decanted before serving. This is not as difficult as it may sound. See the section on Serving and Storing Port .

From Harvest to the Lodges

HARVEST TIME comes in late September in both the Douro Superior and Cima-Corgo and about two weeks later in the Baixo-Corgo. It is an exciting and festive time that lasts about five weeks. A hot summer has been spent planning for this moment. Everything must come together — man, equipment and nature. This is their working holiday.

Harvested Grapes In a land that gives of its bounty grudgingly, gangs of villagers finally pick and carry the grapes in baskets from the steep terraces to the press-houses below. As the wineries get into high gear, the equipment now runs 24 hours a day. Yet, in some places the wine is still trodden barefoot as it has been done for hundreds of years – a system first introduced by the Romans – in open granite lagers (18 x 18 x 3 foot high troughs). Either way, the smell of freshly pressed grapes soon fills the air.

When the pressing is done in the lagers, the skins rise to the top and must be pressed down for several days by treading or with wooden paddles (macacos). This gives the juice a chance to extract the color and tannin needed for the wine. Since the 1960's, most of the pressing is done mechanically. After crushing the grapes are placed in closed concrete or stainless steel tanks for fermentation. The natural byproduct of fermentation is carbon dioxide which acts like a percolator to keep the juice constantly churning over the skins.

At a point when about half of the grape sugar has been turned into alcohol, the juice is run off into barrels containing brandy (traditionally 1 part brandy to 4 parts wine), and the fermentation stops instantly. Adjustments may be made at this point to the freshly made port for acidity and alcohol level and sulfur dioxide content.

Barcos Rabelos During the spring following the harvest, the port is moved to the shipper's lodges. For hundreds of years this was accomplished by way of the Douro River on flat-bottomed boats called Barcos Rabelos. The Barcos Rabelos were designed in a fashion similar to the ships of the ancient Phoenicians who plied these waters thousands of years before them. With pipes of Port piled high and lashed to their decks, armed with one sail and six long oars, these ships hurried down the occasionally treacherous river to Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Today, most Port is transported by tanker trucks.

Vila Nova de Gaia

Pipes of Port Once the Port arrives in Vila Nova de Gaia, it is left to mature for a year. In the beginning of the second year after harvest, the careful process of blending begins. During this time the shippers will evaluate and blend wines from hundreds of bottles. It is now in the tasting room where the shipper's reputation is made. Within several months the final blend is made and it is submitted to the Instituto do Vinho do Porto for governmental approval. The IVP authority extends to analyzing and tasting a sample from every Port shipment. With its approval, it is bottled and the IVP's black and white seal of guarantee is attached to the neck.

After the IVP's approval, some shippers may publicly announce their intent to market a particular Port as a vintage Port. This is called declaring a vintage. To declare a vintage a shipper must have, in their opinion, an outstanding wine. Again, this is serious business as their reputation is at stake. Some houses wait to see what some of the major shippers will do before they declare a vintage on their own.

Until 1986, all Port was by law, aged and bottled in the lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia. But now Port may be grown, aged and bottled in the Douro. As a result, some growers who have the resources to do so, are now producing their own Estate-Bottled, Quinta Ports. Still, most ship their wines to the coast, in part because they always have, but also the cooler climate and much higher humidity are thought to be beneficial for slow cask ageing.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Port Wine
For almost two millennia, a unique viticultural landscape rose on the schistous hillsides along the Douro River valley outside Porto and that has produced an exceptional wine.
More than a gift of Nature, Port Wine is at heart the expression of this history, a collective cultural heritage of work and experience, know-how and art, that has built up from generation to generation.
Port Wine was, and is, a key product for the national economy and even more, a symbolic asset that represents Portugal throughout the world. The history of vineyards in the Upper Douro is a long and ancient one. Remains of stone treading tanks and casks dating back at least to the 3rd and 4th centuries can be found throughout the region
The designation Port Wine, however, only appears during the second half of the 17th century at a time of the expansion of Douro viticulture and rapid growth in wine exports.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


"A vineyard, without any doubt the wildest and greatest there is. Placed in the north of Portugal, crucified from time to time by the Douro river.
A rough, dry valley subject to the caprices of a terrific divinity. The summers are dominated by a stifling heat, the soil begging for mercy. The winters, "even the eyes of the vine shoots are crying from cold!" And then the whirling wind, the hail, the mist, the storms..., the harsh ground. This violent climate makes the Port wine! This is its most touching paradox".

It exist only one place in the world were one can produce the Port wine : the Douro valley, in the north of Portugal.
This vineyard, which spreads along the Douro river is also affected by it. From the border of Spain it stretches 150 km of Port vinyards, covering 250.000 hectares, of which 10% in planted.
It was the Romans, and later Henri de Bourgogne in the 11th century, who discovered the value of the territory and the wine that came from it. The Port then didn't became famous until 1756, when the authorities demarcated the production of the region, thus being the first appellation controlée (control of origin) in the world.
In the Douro valley, man has
always cultivated the vines in terraces.

Furthermore, no were else is the vine cultivation so difficult.
One must crush the soil in order to plant the vine stocks, and build terraces on the sides of the mountains so narrow that no machines can access. On these sides, burnt by the sun, the vines roots must search water and nutrition from 12 meters depth.

But it is at this price, on this harsh land - a vine gives no more than one bottle per year - that the « Vinho generoso » is born. This magnificent, rich wine is the Port wine (Le Vin de Porto).

A unique wine. That is definitely the Port wine. By the means of the territory and type, but also the methods of production and ageing , all to make it original.

The "mutage", first of all. This operation, discovered by the English merchants in the 17th century, is based on stopping the natural fermentation process of must by adding some "eau-de-vie". Thus the Port wine becomes smooth, its fruity aromas develop and the degree of alcohol reaches a level of 20°.

Next the blending or marriage of the wines. Since the Port is a work-of-art wine, patiently composed from a pallet of; -at least fifteen- vineyards -at least fifteen-; origin; quality and ages.

Each one bring their own touch : one enriches the colour and the perfumes ; an other tones down the sharpness ; still an other reinforces the equilibrium of the ensemble... According to his inspiration and experience, the maitre decides the future of the wine. The Port will thus acquire a personality specific to each house and wine style..

Based on this skilful blending, the Port then ripens in oak barrels in the wine and spirit stores of Vila Nova de Gaia, in front of Porto.
In average three years - it's the longest ageing ever for a wine- in which it complete its maturing and smoothens until it has acquired its perfect maturity.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peat Reak wrote:




Found these availble through one of the retailers on the site, anyone tried these vintages?

Late Bottles Vintage is considered by many the top end of ports but the top of the line is, of course, vintage port. Vintage Port isn't suited for drinking until at least a decade after you have made your purchase. Those Portos for sale that have already gained sufficient bottle age for consumption are going to costly. Ruby ports and tawny ports are the low-end of the market, generally avaialble for $7-25 a bottle. Ruby ports will be more similar in style to LBV than will tawnies, which show much greater wood (barrel) influence. Tawnies are very good valus and thus more popular. Genuine Porto comes from Portugal, but port style wines have been made in the US and Australia for many years. I have not heard favourable remarks about US ports. Although a completely different style than your Taylor LBV, I would recommend Yalumba's Clocktower tawny port to anyone, an Australian Port. A rich and lucious wine, with dark coffee and orange peel scents for seven to ten dollars.

As you can tell my pocket favours the Tawny but vintage port is excellent when it can be sampled at the right age.
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