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How long can you keep a bottle of Crusted port?

Most Crusted Ports benefit from 5 to 7 years of ageing in the bottle after being released, provided they’re kept in good conditions (laying down, constant cool temperature, away from strong light). It is difficult to say how long they can be stored as different wines may have different development paths. However, you probably shouldn’t keep it for more than 15 – 20 years (after the year of bottling shown on the label).

What is the best way to drink white port?

Ports are very flexible wines and white Port is a great example of that. White Port can be drunk on its own, ideally chilled, between 8-10˚C) or as a delicious and refreshing Port & Tonic (1/3rd White Port, 2/3rds tonic water, lime / lemon, mint and lots of ice). You can also use other mixers: passion fruit, lime or pineapple. A grapefruit garnish goes well with more aromatic White Ports. Salty peanuts or roasted almonds are great pairings. But don’t forget – the best way to drink a wine is however you enjoy it most!

What is the difference between LBV and Vintage?

Although both wines are from just one harvest (thus sharing the word ‘Vintage’) they are indeed very different. Most LBVs (Late Bottled Vintages) are aged from 4 to 6 years in wood and are ready to drink immediately with no decanting because they are filtered before bottling. Vintage Port is recognised as the finest type of Port and is only produced in exceptional years and from the best grapes. Vintage Ports are bottled 18 months after the harvest (with no filtration). Although people do drink them young, they can be kept for several decades, becoming increasingly refined, elegant, and complex.

Is some port chill-filtered (like some whiskeys are)?

Yes, there is a technique called «estabilização a frio» (cold stabilisation) which can be used for Ports and it is very similar to the chill-filtration method used for Whiskeys. Although they are different methods, they share the same objective, which is to remove sediment and impurities through a spontaneous crystallisation that happens at lower temperatures. Although some use this method, it can reduce colour and quality, so the more commonly preferred method amongst Port producers is gentle filtration.

How many different types of port are there?

This is one of the hard questions because we have to count them! There are two broad groups of Port (with 10 different categories according to the Port Wine Institute (IVDP)): Wood Matured – consisting of Ruby, Tawny, White, Rosé, Reserve Ruby, Late Bottled Vintage, Aged Tawny (10, 20, 30 and 40 Years Old) and Colheita (Single Harvest Aged Tawny Ports). Bottle Matured – consisting of traditional Late Bottle Vintage and Vintage Port.

Does Coravin work for older Vintage Ports (since they have a lot of sediment)?

In our experience Coravin works very well with Vintage Port. However, because you won’t be decanting the wine, we recommend pouring through a funnel and gauze to catch any sediment - especially for Vintage Ports with more than 20 years of bottle age. @Coravin also produce a Vintage Needle for bottles with older corks which may be more fragile. This needle is thinner than the normal one. Perhaps they can share their advice on whether they would recommend using the narrower needle with older Vintage Ports or their normal needle!

What is the true story about Crusted Port?

Crusted Port is a blend of two or three harvests, aged in wood for up to two years and bottled without any fining or filtration, just like a Vintage Port. The only date that you have to consider is the year of bottling (which appears on the label) and the wine may be released up to three years after bottling. It is sometimes called a 'British Port' because it was originally created specifically for the British market in the early 20th century. Like Vintage Ports, you can choose to either drink them young or keep them cellared for a number of years. And like VPs they need decanting. As Vintage Port is quite rare and released in very small quantities, Crusted Port can be an affordable alternative for those who are not so patient!

Why do some Vintage Ports change colours faster than others?

Within the range of Vintage Ports there are some that inevitably have greater ageing capability than others. Each year has different characteristics of structure, concentration, acidity and phenolic compounds. In addition, different Vintage Ports are produced using different grape varieties with different levels of concentration. All of these factors can determine the rate of colour change. In addition, if a bottle of Vintage Port is not stored in the ideal conditions of temperature, humidity, light and position (lying on its side), the pigmentation of the wine can change faster than it normally would.

Can Colheita stock be used for normal age – statement – tawnies or are they separate?

Yes, they can. It is up to the winemaker to make the decision whether to use Colheita stock in a blend or bottle it as a 'single harvest' Tawny Port. Usually Colheitas are released when a specific year's Tawny Ports evolve in an outstanding way. The best years are monitored closely and are kept apart to enable them to be bottled as a premium Colheita (Single Harvest Tawny) in small quantities. However, the winemaker can at any point choose to blend that stock into a 10, 20, 30 or 40 Year Old Tawny Port.

How much difference is there from batch to batch in blended tawnies?

With blended Tawny Ports (10 Year Olds, 20 Year Olds, etc) the tasting room team are trying to achieve a consistent house style. The fact that they can use wines from different years, so long as the average is at least the age of the category communicated on the label, as well as different grape varieties, gives them lots of options to maintain that Port house's characteristics. In addition, different Port houses have different ageing techniques (type and size of barrels, etc). By staying true to these, they are able to achieve consistent characteristics from year to year with their Tawny blends.

I have a 1989 white port botted in 2018. Will it last in the bottle or should we drink it?

Barrel-aged Ports - be they Aged Whites or Aged Tawnies - are not intended for bottle maturation and should be drunk relatively quickly once bottled. Whites do not have the structure or tannins needed for a long ageing in the bottle. However, given your 1989 was bottled in 2018, it will retain its quality for a few years. Nevertheless, we recommend you drink it relatively soon! Only a few Port styles (Vintage, Crusted Ports or traditional LBVs) have the potential to age in the bottle as they are not filtered and will continue to improve and evolve as they slowly age in contact with the sediment.

How is it the case that even during decades in barrels, the % of alcohol stays the same?

Interestingly, the rate of micro-oxidation of the Port through the barrel reduces the volume of water and alcohol in roughly equal proportions. With very old Aged Tawny Ports, a slight alcohol correction is sometimes needed and this is done by adding wine from another barrel, to achieve the regulated alcohol level. A related point is that Tawny Ports lose considerable volume through evaporation (up to 20% in the first 10 years in barrel). The winemakers top up this volume with wine from the same year (or a similar year, in the case of the blended Tawnies). The Port Wine Institute has clear rules that all Port houses must follow when topping up. According to the most recent data (2019) released by IVDP (Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto), there is a total of 43.608 hectares of vineyard in the Douro Valley, from which 42.422 ha are within the "Região Demarcada do Douro" (demarcated region) legal frame.

What is the «Douro bake» and how can I notice it?

'Douro Bake' is a term used to describe the aroma and taste profile that Ports aged in the Douro Valley can develop. The climate in the Douro is hotter and drier than on the Atlantic coast, and this means higher evaporation and consequently more concentrated wines. These can sometimes taste richer, more 'baked' compared to ports aged in the cooler conditions of the Gaia lodges. It’s not a flaw or defect (unless its effects are excessive). Rather it is the result of different ageing conditions, which can develop a 'nose' and flavours that some may appreciate. Some Ports with Douro bake can, however, lack some freshness and balance.

A 20 YO tawny is stored for 20 years. Is it still a 20 YO?

Tawny ports are wood-aged ports and once bottled they are ready to be consumed and further ageing potential is limited. All their ageing and development has occurred in seasoned oak casks and, as such, they are not meant to be aged further. For a twenty-year-old tawny we recommend that the port be consumed within two years of bottling. It will remain in good condition for some years longer but it won't have the balance, elegance and freshness that a recently bottled 20-year-old tawny displays. Technically a 20 Year-Old Tawny will still be a 20YO even twenty years after it was bottled, but it won't be the same wine.

What about going into organic port?

We are the largest organic vineyard owners in the Douro Valley and although the majority of grapes grown in them are used for table wines (like the Altano Douro Organic Red), some are also used for Port production. Graham's Natura Reserve Port is made from organically farmed grapes grown on 10 hectares which are fully organically certified at Graham's Quinta dos Malvedos. Furthermore, all other vineyards are managed under an environmentally friendly minimum intervention regime called Integrated Crop Management.

Why do some Vintage ports become volatile in the bottle?

All wines - Ports included - have volatile flavour compounds and naturally occurring volatile acids, principally acetic acid. It is when the latter rises to unacceptably high levels that the wine is said to be volatile (and therefore unpleasant or even undrinkable). A wine can become excessively volatile if poorly stored, under higher (and/or inconstant) temperatures. This sometimes causes the cork to dry, allowing air to enter the bottle. The resulting exposure to air, if unchecked, will spoil the wine.

40 YO tawny: is it a minimum or average 40 YO?

Aged tawnies with an indication of age of 10, 20 and 30 years are blended wines, made up of high quality production from different harvests and aged solely in seasoned oak casks. The age indication of 10, 20 or 30 years refers to the average age of the wine in the bottle and in almost every case the wine is actually a fraction older than indicated, as port producers err on the side of caution by ensuring that the average age of the wine is actually a little above the age shown on the label. With 40 year old tawnies, the Port Wine Institute (IVDP) lays down more specific regulations, requiring that the youngest wine in the blend is at least 40 years old. That's why on the label of a 40 year old tawny you will often see the term "More than" preceding "40 Years of Age”.

Can tawny port improve in the bottle?

Although most wines benefit (to differing extents) from bottle ageing, filtered ports, including Tawnies, are not designed to age in the bottle. After being matured in wood, Tawnies are fined and filtered making them ready to enjoy immediately but limiting their further potential for ageing. As their development has already occurred in seasoned oak casks, they are not meant to age any longer and we recommend they are enjoyed within two years of bottling.

How does climate change affect the Douro?

We have definitely observed a variety of shifts in the Douro's viticulture due to climate change in recent years. The annual average temperature in the Douro has increased (1.3ºC between 1967 and 2010) predominantly because the winters are getting warmer. The vegetative cycle of the vines tends to be activated sooner, making the maturation periods shorter which subsequently results in earlier harvests - in 2017 we had the earliest harvest on record. Although the Douro Valley has very resistant grape varietals (which are used to extreme weather conditions) and a morphology which allows avoiding higher temperatures (namely by moving parcels up the mountain), the threat is real and action is needed to prevent the region from significant future harm.

What do the main Douro varietals deliver to the final blends?

The Douro Valley has a large number of indigenous grape varieties which contribute in very different ways to the final blend – this diversity is a part of the Douro’s uniqueness. The Tourigas (Nacional and Franca) are very concentrated and add much structure. The Nacional in particular is considered the backbone of most blends and it can also be very aromatic (rose and violet aromas). Tinta Roriz normally contributes with impressive tannic structure and fruit flavours, while Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão, being less concentrated, add finesse and elegance. On the other hand, the spicy black peppery flavours in some ports are a characteristic of Tinto Cão.

How do you decide if a single harvest becomes a Vintage or a Colheita?

During the harvest, the winemaker will begin to build a picture of the characteristics of the year and the quality potential of the wines. He or she will begin to screen and grade the wines, earmarking specific batches to be made into the various categories of port. The wines will be regularly assessed to ascertain which lots are better suited to age in bottle (Vintage) and which will age and develop to advantage in wood (Single Harvest). After the wines' first two winters, a decision is made regarding the declaration of a Vintage and if this goes ahead, some of the finest lots are bottled as Vintage Port. Other high quality wines, deemed to be best suited to age in wood, will become Single Harvest Tawnies or 'Colheitas'.

How do you come up with the idea of how a wine should taste?

Port producers all have their own 'house style'; some make drier tasting ports whilst others are known for a richer style, for example. This house style has been developed through many generations of house winegrowers and winemakers. In part, they can 'control' what the final wine tastes like by using their house 'recipe', by which they know which particular lots of wine they need to blend together to arrive at a specific taste. This is especially important for aged tawnies with an age indication (10, 20, 30 and 40 year old tawnies).Here, the producer aims for consistency of style over time because the consumer expects his/her preferred 20 Year Old Tawny (to name just one) to taste the same, irrespective of whether they buy a bottle tomorrow, or a year from now. When creating a new wine, however, the winemaking team can allow their imagination and creativity to work some magic. They will outline a general profile of what they want to achieve (drier, fruitier, nuttier, fresher, etc), searching then for the right components (different grape varieties, for instance) that will deliver the tasting profile and style of wine they seek. These 'ingredients' can also be defined/identified simply by a knowledge of the specific vineyard parcel a wine is made from.

How is the harvest going?

This year's growing cycle was very precocious because of a very mild winter that brought forward by three weeks the start of the vines' growth cycle. A hot summer hastened the maturation and ripening of the grapes, which contributed to a very early starting vintage. The heat and lack of rain provoked some dehydration of the vines and this was reflected in much lower yields. This shorter crop and the fact that the various grape varieties pretty much all ripened in unison (very unusual in the Douro), meant the harvest was fast-paced and brief. After some initial apprehension because of the extraordinary conditions that this harvest brought, producers throughout the Douro are reporting that some very good wines have been made, albeit in much smaller quantities than normal (yields are down by as much as 50% in some areas).

How can we learn about the the "house styles" of the different brands?

Besides tasting the wines, you can learn more about each producer's individual 'house style' by understanding how their vineyards and winemaking define their wines' profiles. The Douro has many micro-terroirs, largely shaped by the fact it is a mountainous region with great variances in altitude and aspect, both of which influence the style of wines produced and other aspects like rainfall and temperatures. Other factors such as the grape varieties used (some producers favour specific blending 'recipes‘) and vinification (shorter or longer) also play a big role.

With the progress of technology and loss of traditional practices, what happens to the quality of the wines?

It's all about maintaining the proper balance between technology and tradition, embracing the former whilst not excluding the latter. In the Douro Valley, successful producers have struck the right balance. So-called precision viticulture is now practised by a growing number of winemakers in the Douro; using all the advanced tools that science offers, whilst never abandoning empirical knowledge accrued over many generations — this way they have the 'best of both worlds.' As climate change becomes an unavoidable reality, advances in viticulture are helping producers to adapt, not only to mitigate the effects of higher temperatures and drier conditions, but also to ensure they can continue to make wines sustainably. Quality is not compromised; quite the opposite, not only is it safeguarded but also increased.

When are old casks sold (i.e. whiskey producers) and why are they at the end of their life?

There is a greater demand from Whiskey producers for seasoned ('old') port casks than port producers are willing to part with. They provide Malt Whiskeys with wonderful aromas, flavours and colour. The tawny family of ports (wines aged in wood which take on a tawny colour) are aged in seasoned oak casks (called 'pipes' in the port trade) for several decades and the older the wood the better, because well-seasoned wood gradually and slowly imparts complex aromas and flavours to the maturing wine. This is why port producers still rely heavily on the art of cooperage to maintain and repair oak casks for as long as possible. The average age of a seasoned oak cask used for ageing premium port ranges from 70 to 90 years and they are only at the end of their life (often over a century old) when it is no longer feasible to maintain them.

How long can you really leave different ports open and still nice to drink?

Port is a sweet fortified wine which means is has natural preservatives (natural grape sugar and alcohol), and is more stable than dry wines, and it does remain in good condition after opening the bottle for considerably longer than most other wines. The fact that most ports are aged in wood (by micro oxidation, because the barrels' wooden staves have some porosity) means that they do not (adversely) react to contact with air as quickly as dry wines do. Depending on the storage conditions, most ports will remain in fine condition for drinking up to 6 or or so weeks after opening. There is one exception to this: Vintage Port (and other bottle-matured ports). Because they are aged in bottle with large driven corks, they mature for long periods with no contact with oxygen. To enjoy them at their best, they should be consumed within two to three days after the bottle is uncorked. 

Which is the best port wine for this new year?

For this New Year, we recommend a 20 Year Old Tawny Port. It's a sweet, delightful wine (like 2020 wasn't!) and the result of the perfect balance between the ageing notes from its time inside the barrel (let it represent the wisdom of the elderly) and the freshness of its youth (being the energy and hope from the younger) - everything that we need for 2021! Oh, and apart from that, it pairs beautifully with raisins for the New Year countdown!

How do you know if a wine will make a great vintage? What characteristics do you look for?

The first signs are often in the vineyard, even before the grapes have been picked. The final ripening stage before the harvest is critical and we are looking for balance between sugar levels and acidity in the berries, as well as good phenolic development (colour, tannins, aromas). During the fermentations, deep colour, concentration and fragrant aromas are very positive signs of a great wine in the making. Once the wine is made, the telltale signs of a potentially great vintage are inky black colour, concentration balanced by freshness (the acidity is a hallmark of longevity) and ironclad structure (abundant, polished tannins).

What's the best (type of) port to cook with?

Port is a very versatile wine which - sure thing! - can be used for cooking. We would say the 'best' type of port depends both on your personal taste and what you're cooking specifically. Ruby port can be used for stewed or roasted red meat; Tawnies suit deliciously with fried meat on caramelised nuts & noodles; White port can be amazing for cooking: try making a reduction with it adding some white wine, a bit of lemon juice, herbs and garlic - it'll be a fantastic topping on fresh fish!

Christmas is coming and I’m thinking about cooking a port sauce. Any suggestions?

First of all we'd like to stress that individual tastes and food pairing are obviously very personal. Certain combinations work for some people and don't work for others. Still, here's our suggestion - a port sauce reduction with a Ruby style port: In a pot, put Ruby style port and red wine together (50/50) adding 4 or 5 garlic cloves, some rosemary and/or thyme. Let it boil until you have about 1/3 of the original liquid volume left. Don't forget to filter the reduction before using i. This can be served with a pan fried (in this case do not use any oil – start cooking the breast from the fatty side) or grilled duck breast and some roasted veggies / potatoes. Pair it with LBV or a young Vintage Port.

What are the major differences between sherry and port?

Port and sherry are both fortified wines, meaning a distilled spirit has been added during the fermentation process. But that's where the similarities end. Here are some of the main differences between them: Port is made from Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and other grape varieties, while sherry is produced from varietals such as Palomino Fino, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel - each of these varieties determines the type of sherry that is produced, which is not the case for port. Climate conditions in the two demarcated regions are very different. For example, the Douro has very hot and dry summers while in Jeréz de la Frontera summer temperatures are balanced by the Atlantic. Port can be aged in seasoned wood (vats or barrels) or bottle which determines its style, whereas sherry ages through a unique system called solera. The solera system consists of stacking barrels up, putting the younger wines in the upper rows and older wines in the lower ones. As the wines ages, it goes down the 'steps' until the ageing is complete.

Do certain grapes increase a port's ability to go through a 'dumb' phase?

By 'dumb' phase we are assuming that this is the long period during which Vintage Ports settle into their 'hibernation', i.e. ageing period in bottle roughly between their 4th and 12th year, during which a Vintage Port settles down for prolonged development in bottle. Opening a bottle during this stage may prove premature because the wine hasn't aged fully and may seem shy, reserved, closed (hence the term 'dumb'). The grape varieties that form the principal backbone of great, long-lasting Vintage Ports are primarily the Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, with other complementary varieties, like the Sousão, buttressing the staying power through the acidity it provides (freshness and balance). To get through the dumb phase and carry on ageing for many more years, these are the fundamental varieties (although by no means the only varieties that go into a Vintage Port blend).

Does a young Vintage benefit from opening a few hours before?

Vintage Port is a very complex wine, usually with great concentration of aromas and layers of flavours. Therefore, all vintages - even young ones - benefit from some aeration serving. In the case of a young Vintage Port - say younger than 10 years of age - decanting it a couple of hours to allow it to breath is sufficient. Some older Vintage Ports, say from 20 to 30 years (and more) benefit by being decanted several hours before serving to fully release and liberate the incredible aromas and flavours that have been locked inside the bottle for decades. 

How long can a bottle of LBV stay open?

There are two kinds of Late Bottled Vintage Ports: Late Bottled Vintage (LBV): the majority of LBVs available in the high street are wines that are aged solely in wood, primarily large oak vats, and bottled between their fourth and sixth year (hence the term 'late bottled', because declared Vintage Ports are bottled in their second year). These LBVs are filtered prior to bottling, which makes them very easy to serve as no decanting is necessary. Because they have been aged in wood, they have had some contact with oxygen, and once open, will remain in good condition for up to six weeks, although we recommend that to enjoy at its best, the wine should be consumed within a month.  Traditional LBV: Some producers still make traditional LBV, meaning wines that are bottled unfiltered, after four rather than five or six years. After bottling, these LBVs will age for at least a further four years (longer is usual) in bottle before being offered for sale. They will show on the label the term 'unfiltered' or 'bottle-matured' (or both). The wine has to be decanted and like a declared Vintage Port, it should be consumed within two to three days.

Does single varietal port exist?

Technically, the short answer is no. The Port and Douro Wine Institute, port's official regulatory body, stipulates that ports must be made from at least four grape varieties. Even if this wasn't laid down as a legal requirement, the fact is most — if not all — producers would always use more than one variety in the composition of their port blends. There are just over 100 officially recognised grape varieties that can be planted in the Douro Valley.  The region is characterised by a wealth of micro-terroirs, influenced and shaped by varying altitudes, aspect (vineyard orientation), climate, soil — and grape varieties. Specific grape varieties are best suited to certain locations and port has always been about blending several varieties to achieve the complexity, depth and breadth for which ports are prized.  Perhaps the closest one may get to a single varietal port is when the wine is made from a field blend (vineyards — usually older ones — where all the varieties are planted together in the same parcels). In some field blends there is sometimes a predominant variety.

Is Tawny blended to taste the same?

Yes and no (!?) — depending on the category. Tawny Ports with an age indication — 10, 20, 30 and 40-Year-Old —, are blends of wines from different harvests, whose average age is shown on the label (10, 20, 30 or 40 years). These are indeed blended following a house style so that, over time, a customer can always return to his/her favourite old tawny port in the knowledge that it will have the same, constant profile. The other old tawny category — aged tawnies from a single year — are quite the opposite. These are the Colheita (Portuguese for 'harvest') ports, also known as Single Harvest Tawny, and are wines from a single year, aged in oak casks for prolonged periods and not blended with wines of other years. Therefore, they reflect the characteristics of the year in which they were made, rather than being an expression of the house style. These wine are unique, in that once the batch is bottled the wine will never quite be replicated.

Can the 'benefício' of a year be tranferred from one producer to another?

The Benefício is attributed to each Douro farmer in accordance with a grading system which classifies his/her particular vineyard into different quality categories, rated from a descending scale from A to I. This is based on a set of criteria which include site, altitude, aspect, gradient, exposure, etc. The higher the letter ranking, the higher the proportion of grapes that a farmer is allowed to make into Port. This system is therefore an individual authorisation based on the specific attributes of each vineyard and it is therefore, by definition, non-transferable between farmers. In exceptional circumstances, the Interprofessional Council of the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP), Port’s governing body, may authorise a transfer of production rights from one farmer to another. This is extremely rare and is only considered in extraordinary cases, for example, in the event of a farmer losing his crop through natural causes such as a severe climatic event. These instances are rigorously analysed and decided on a case by case basis by the IVDP.

What is the market's best selling style?

In absolute volume terms, the entry-level Ruby and Tawny (three-year-old ports) are the most widely sold. But this doesn't give an accurate picture of port's consumption trends. Increasingly, consumers are enjoying premium ports such as the Reserve Ruby and Reserve Tawny as well as the LBVs, which in leading markets such as the UK are best-sellers. This is hardly surprising as these wines are very fairly priced, especially when you consider how much quality they deliver at the price point. In some countries, such as the USA, aged tawny ports have also grown in popularity over the last couple of decades or so. These are incredibly versatile and equally enjoyable served as aperitifs or after meals, on their own or with dessert/cheese — all year round.  

What is the effect of house temperatures (+/- 27ºC) on wines designed to age in the bottle?

Port, as any other fine wine, should ideally be stored somewhere with a cool and constant temperature, preferably no higher than 18ºC / 64.4ºF — and away from sunlight. In particular, wines that are designed for prolonged ageing in bottle, such as Vintage Ports, should be stored at a stable temperature, at or around 15ºC / 59ºF. Temperature fluctuations are just as bad for wines as storage under relatively high temperatures, so you should look to avoid pronounced and constant temperature swings, just as much as high storage temperatures. Higher temperatures will accelerate and compromise the ageing process and knock the wines off balance. Wines stored under such conditions may well not fulfil their full potential and may taste 'cooked', 'flat' and unbalanced.

What is the best book you recommend to learn about port?

The best introduction to port (and the Douro region), and almost certainly the most widely available is: - PORT AND THE DOURO by Richard Mayson. Other worthy reads on your way to becoming #schoolofportgeeks, are: - 'Rich, Rare and Red', by Ben Howkins - 'The Port Companion', by Godfrey Spence. For Portuguese readers: - História do Douro e do Vinho do Porto  (Gaspar Martins Pereira) - Ilha de Xisto: Guia do Douro e do Vinho do Porto (Manuel Carvalho) - DOURO, Rio, Gente e Vinhp (António Barreto)

Is yeast inoculation a common practice for port?

As port has a relatively short fermentation (usually 36 to 48 hours), winemakers find no real advantage in using dry selected yeasts, so yeast inoculation is not commonly employed in port winemaking. Port winemakers prefer to use the ambient 'indigenous' yeast in port fermentations, as they believe that these are better suited for achieving complexity in the wine. For dry Douro wines, where fermentations are much longer, yeast inoculation is commonly used (dry selected yeasts).

What is the impact of bottle size for ageing Vintage?

Standard (75cl) and larger bottle formats (Magnums: 1.5 litre) are better suited for Vintage Ports because they favour slower, more subtle wine ageing. Smaller bottles (such as halves of 37.5cl) normally speed up wine ageing, mainly because they have more oxygen per centilitre of wine than larger bottle formats. This means a higher proportion of the wine is in contact with oxygen (present in the space in a stoppered wine not occupied by the wine itself), which will accelerate the ageing process. Apart from this, as Vintage Port is an unfiltered bottle-matured wine, having a greater volume for the precipitation of sediments may provide additional benefits for the wine's development. This is one of the reasons why half bottles of Vintage Port aren't more widely available. Generally speaking, standard-sized and larger bottles are better for long-term bottle ageing. It is often the case that Magnums of Vintage Port reveal even greater complexity and finesse than a standard bottle from the same vintage year. But, as with any fine wine, this will also depend on how well the bottle has been stored.

Why do filtered ports age and unfiltered don't?

Well, it's actually the exact opposite! Although bottle stabilisation may be beneficial for most mainstream wines (intended to be consumed quite young), some of the finest quality ports (as with virtually all fine wines) require long-term bottle-ageing to develop their full potential. These wines (principally Vintage Ports) are intentionally bottled unfiltered to retain all the phenolics, natural acids and flavour precursors, in short, many of the necessary ingredients required for prolonged bottle-ageing.  With no contact with the oxygen, this ageing enhances the slow formation of aggregates which results in the settling of sediment in the bottle. Therefore, the wine will develop in contact with its own sediment through a process called reduction. Filtered ports, on the other hand, age through a slow micro oxidation process. This ageing takes place in wooden casks or vats prior to bottling — before which the wines are filtered and fined, rendering them ready to drink, but removing any particular benefit or potential for further ageing in the bottle.

Can LBVs age?

Yes, although it depends on the type of Late Bottled Vintage (LBV). There are two types: - Late Bottled Vintage (LBV): the majority of LBVs available in the high street are wines that are aged solely in wood, primarily large oak vats, and bottled between their fourth and sixth year (hence the term 'late bottled', because declared Vintage Ports are bottled in their second year). These LBVs are filtered prior to bottling, which makes them very easy to serve as no decanting is necessary; this type of LBV is not intended for long-term ageing, once it's been bottled, it's ready to drink and shouldn't be kept for longer than five or six years. - Traditional LBV: Some producers still make traditional LBV, meaning wines that are bottled unfiltered, after four rather than five or six years. After bottling, these LBVs will age for at least a further four years (longer is usual) in bottle before being offered for sale. They will show on the label the term 'unfiltered' or 'bottle-matured' (or both). This type of LBV has the potential for a long bottle ageing, provided good conditions are assured (constant cool temperature, horizontal position, location away from sunlight). These LBVs can age up to 20 or more years.

Any specific conditions under which port must be during exportation?

First and foremost, port must be bottled at source in Portugal, so no other type of container — other than the original bottle and corresponding transport case — is allowed for port destined for export (and indeed, for domestic shipment in Portugal as well). All ports have to be previously certified by the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto (IVDP), which approves ports' quality, classifications, labels and other elements, and issues the guarantee seal for each individual bottle. During transport, freight companies must ensure stable temperatures during transportation and during temporary storage — before and after the transportation itself.

School of Port is an educational initiative from Symington Family Estates, premium port producers in the Douro for five generations since 1882.

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