One of the wine’s components. It is present in every wine, although it varies in its level, bringing a sensation of freshness when balanced and a bitter taste when the level is high.
Flavour that remains after a wine is tasted, indicating its complexity. Depending on the wine and its characteristics, it could either be short, long, sweet, dry, spicy.
The potential of a certain wine / lot to be kept in wooden barrels or bottles, throughout time, due to its complexity and characteristics. It’s determined by experienced oenologists and tasters in the tasting room.
The period of time a certain wine is kept in wooden barrels (see wood-aged), considering the interaction between the characteristics of the wine, the particularities of each type of wood and the presence of oxygen. Some wines may even age in bottle (see Bottle-aged), deprived of oxygen.
Alcohol percentage / content
Final percentage of alcohol of a wine due to the fermentation and / or fortification process(es). In the case of Port Wine, is always comprehended between 18º and 22º.
Organoleptic sensation (scent, “smell”) provided by a certain wine. Considering its characteristics and ageing process, it could be fresh, floral (rockrose, particularly in Douro Wines), frutie (wild/red/black berries, fresh or tropic fruits), oaky, toasted, smoky, dry, spicy, peppery/spicy.
It is one of the final characteristics of a certain wine; harmony between all its components (sugar, acidity, bouquet).
General name for a wooden container used for ageing wines. Depending on the capacity and purpose, could be divided into:
Cask: used to age Tawny Ports; its capacity varies, but at Cockburns’s is between 600 lts and 700 lts;
Tonnel: used to age mostly Ruby Ports, but it can also be used for Tawny Ports; its capacity varies, but the average at Cockburn’s is 10 000 lts;
Vat: used to age Ruby Ports; its capacity varies, but the average at Cockburn’s is 50 000 lts;
Other containers: stainless steel or concrete containers, with capacity for several thousands of litres; used mostly for wine storaging, not ageing.
Unit of measurement of the sugar level of a certain wine.
Unflitered wines with an ageing process occuring mostly in bottle. In most cases, the ageing potential of those wines is long and most will be kept in the bottle for several decades. Appropriate for consumers following a vegan diet. Wines included in this category are Vintage, Single Quinta Vintage and Late Bottle Vintage Bottle-aged.
The wine’s aromas, fragrance, smell
First stage of the grape’s growing cycle, which normally takes place in March. Stage in which the first green shoots sprout from the buds.
Type of wood used in certain barrels.
An artisan whose main task is to build wooden barrels or guarantee their preservation, weather by repairing or cleaning them. The tools and equipments used by the Cockburn’s coopers are still traditionnal.
The coopers’ workplace. Place where new barrels are built and others are repaired.
Wine produced using different grape varieties.
Process of transfering a wine to a decanter before drinking, so that it volatilizes and one can enjoy it in its full potential. It is normally recommended for bottle-aged wines and it frequently occurs simultaneously with the filtration.
Demarcated Douro Region / Douro Valley
First demarcated and regulated wine region in the world (1756) and the exclusive territory where the authentic Port is produced. It is subdivided into 3 subregions and is characterized by a particular terroir which makes it unique and adequate for Port and Douro Wines’ production.
Act of separating / removing the stem from the grape.
Territory / area of land where the vines grow, normally including a house and a winery as well. The Portuguese word quinta is not only its literal translation, but also a well-known term in the Port Wine lexic.
Process in which the natural sugar of the grape is converted into alcohol, by the action of the yeast. It occurs in the winery, after the harvest, normally in a stainless steel container.
The process of removing the sediments and particles of a certain wine through filters. Takes place before the wine is bottled or, in the case of bottle-aged Ports, right before consuming.
Second stage of the grape’s growing cycle, which normally takes place during April/May. Stage in which the green vine flowers begin to appear.
The process of stopping the fermentation of Port Wine by adding wine spirits at 77% of alcohol. Its timing will vary depending on the wine and the desired baumé level, but will normally take place during the first days after the fermentation begins.
Grape varieties planted in the Douro Valley and authorized by the IVDP to be used in Port and Douro Wines’ production. There are 115 different varieties, most of them indigenous/authoctonous from the Douro Valley.
Grape Variety Library (at Symington Family Estates)/ Ampelographic Field
Investigation lead by SFE viticultors at Quinta do Ataíde and Quinta do Bomfim. Its major goal is to determine how will the grape varieties behave in the future as the climate changes, by acknowledging the viticultors for the timings of the growing cycles.
Term used by Mr. John Smithes to define the initial “explosion” of different flavours in the palate when tasting a wine.
Fifth and last stage of the grape’s growing cycle, which normally takes place during September/October and lasts 4 to 6 weeks. Stage in which the berries are fully ripen and have reached the optimum size and level of sugar and acidity to be picked. In the Douro Valley, despite being mostly manual due to the characteristics of the land, some efforts are being made in order to mechanize it.
Artificial process, using different systems, to moisture the soil and keep the optimum level of water required for the grapes to grow healthier.
Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto
Institute / company established in 1933 to control and regulate all the activities and entities related to Port and Douro wines’ production.
Lodge / Cellar
Building(s) located in Vila Nova de Gaia where Port Wine is kept ageing, mostly in wooden barrels.
Lot / Blend
Blend of wines from different harvests assembled in the final lot. As they reflect the style or personality of each house, the blends should remain as similar as possible throughout the years.
Type of wood used in certain barrels.
Fourth stage of the grape’s growing cycle, which normally takes place during August/September. Stage in which the berries ripe and built the optimum level of sugar and acidity.
As the active population in the Douro Valley decreases and given the outbreak of technology in the field, more and more stages of the production have become mechanized. The major exception is the harvest, which remains mostly manual due to the characteristics of the territory.
The Douro Valley represents the largest mountain viticulture territory in the world, with an inclination between 20% and 40%. Considering the inherent barriers to the viticulture and according to the level of inclination, there are different vineyard systems: stone terraces, large (2 rows) and narrow (1 row) terraces and vertical vineyards.
Type of wood used in most of the barrels. Fundamentally french, the oak found at Cockburn’s can also be originally portuguese, american, hungarian and baltic.
Scientist who studies oenology; same as winemaker.
The science behind the wine making / production.
The action of oxygene on the wine.
Combination between food and wine that allows an interaction between the flavours and characteristics of both.
Plague that destroyed most of the vineyards in Europe in the 1880’s, including the Douro Valleys’. It has its origin in the American continent and was caused by an insect (phylloxera) that feeds on the sap of vine roots.
Ring / Arch /Metal or wooden hoops
Compound of a barrel. Frequently made of iron, a ring / arc is responsible for keeping the staves attached and has a different diameter considering its position in the barrel.
Robots that have replaced the human feet in treading. Conceived to simulate the human performance in all aspects: weight, pression, frequency of movement, temperature, texture of the skin. Found in the tanks of nine wineries at SFE.
Subterranean part of the vine that often penetrates several meters so that the plant has access to the water and nutrients it needs to grow and mature.
American rootstock that was firstly used in the Douro Valley after the phylloxera, given its resistance to the plague. It is still being used nowadays.
One of the Port Wine major categories. It is produced using only red grapes and its organoleptic characteristics will depend on the vinification process and the ageing methodology. Generally, a Ruby Port will age between 2 and 6 years in wooden vats and / or tonnels. Could either be a blend of different harvests or a single harvest Port.
Examples: Fine Ruby, Special Reserve, Late Bottle Vintage, Single Quinta Vintage and Vintage Port.
Sedimentary rock that forms the majority of the Douro Valley’s soil (schistous soil), contributing largely to its particular and unique terroir. It’s primary function is to regulate the temperature in the vines by absorbing the heat during the day and releasing it through the night. Being split, it also allows the roots of the vines to penetrate to the subsoil in order to reach water and nutrientes.
Wood / barrel that was previously used with tradicional/still / dry wines, for about 6/7 years. Its use is mandatory in the case of Port Wine.
Compounds of the wine that settle on the bottom.
Step involves letting the grape must (pressed juice, skins, and sometimes stems) settle overnight in a vat for up to three days wherein the solids sink to the bottom. Typical temperatures for this process are between 41-50 degrees fahrenheit (5-10 Celcius). Sometimes commercially available enzymes called pectolytic enzymes are added to the must to break down pectin, a component of plant cell walls that functions to hold the unwanted particles together. The purpose of this step is to clarify the juice to prevent off-flavors from being present in the final product. Once the suspended particles have settled, the clear juice is transferred, or racked to another vat or fermentation vessel. This is really only used for the production of whites and rosés.
Wine from one single year, which given its characteristics was considered exceptional. Some examples are Vintage Port, Late Bottle Vintage and Single Harvest Tawny.
One of the components of a barrel. Its size, thickness and type of wood will depend on the capacity and purpose of the barrel.
Machine used in the cooperage to built new barrels. By generating steam, it allows the coopers to bend the wood and give the proper shape to the barrel. At Cockburn’s, the Robey Steam Boiler was used only until 1996, given that our cooperage did not build new barrels ever since.
Essentially refers to the major elements that can be assessed when tasting a wine: acidity, sweetness, body, alcohol, and tannin.
Major concern at SFE in producing premium quality wine by causing the minimum impact in the environment. As SFE has earned the status of B-Corp (first wine producer in Portugal), it has set goals to accomplish towards reducing its environmental impact.
Container placed in the winery where the grapes will be trodden. Depending on the type of tread, it could either be metallic (mechanical tread) or granitic (traditional tread).
Vehicle used for the last decades to transport wine from the Douro Valley to Vila Nova de Gaia.
Natural compounds of the grape’s skins, seeds and stems that will give the wine characteristics such as astringency and a dry sensation in the palate.
Place where all the wines are analyzed and the final blends are made.
One of the Port Wine major categories. It is produced using only red grapes and its organoleptic characteristics will depend on the vinification process and the ageing methodology. Tawny Ports will normally age from 3/4 years to several decades (the first years generally in wooden vats and eventually go to smaller casks), regardless of being a blend of different harvests or a single harvest Port.
Examples: Fine Tawny, Tawny Reserve, 10 YO, 20 YO, 30 YO, 40 YO, Colheita.
A combination of natural aspects (soil, climate, grave varieties) of a territory that makes it appropriate for producing a specific wine.
Act of pressing the grapes to extract liquid, colour and tannins as much as possible. It could either be traditional (by human feet) or mechanical (by robotic feet).
Wine produced using only one grape variety.
Third stage of the grape’s growing cycle, which normally takes place during June/July. Stage in which the berries begin to colour and enlarge.
Plant from which the grapes will grow.
Plantation of grapevines.
Process of obtaining wine from the grapes, consisting mostly on controlling chemical reactions and mechanical processes. It occurs in the winery and includes desteming, treading, pressing, fermentation, fortification and stabilization.
The study and practice of grape cultivation.
One of the Port Wine major categories. It is produced using only white grapes and its organoleptic characteristics will depend on the vinification process and the ageing methodology. Some companies age white just as tawnies in casks.
Wine spirits / Double distilled wine
Distilled used to stop the fermentation of Port Wine, by killing the yeast. It must have 77% of alcohol and be neutral in terms of color, aroma and taste.
Wines that will age in wooden-barrels, in order to acquire the provenient characteristics of the different types of wood. With the exception of Vintage Port and Late Bottle Vintage Bottle-aged, those wines will be filtered before bottled.
Status given by UNESCO to the Douro Valley in 2001 in the category of landscape. The aspects considered where the multiple vineyard systems, the different cultures existing and, mostly, the fact that the landscape was shaped by man and its activity of producing wine throughout centuries.
Natural bacteria existing in the grape that is responsable for the fermentation process.
Amount of wine produced per year. The Douro Valley’s yield is considered to be one of the smallest in the world – about 4 tons per hectare of territory.