Vinho Porto, Porto, or simply Port is a fortified wine produced solely in Portugal’s Douro Valley. Five indigenous grapes are mainly used for Port production, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cao, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional – and the fermentation process is stopped when a neutral grape spirit (basically a brandy) is added to the wine. The resulting product is slightly sweet from the unfermented sugars, with the high-alcohol richness from the addition of the brandy. While the general production process is similar, variations within the process result in greatly varied styles of Port, from the violet-hued freshness of a Ruby Port, to the barrel-aged, slightly oxidized Tawny style, up to the powerful and refined Vintage Ports, where all of the wine’s grapes come from a single year. There is white port, crusted port, and colheita Port among others; Port wine is a fascinating category and it can take even serious Port drinkers years to distinguish and differentiate between the many styles and classifications.
The two Ports below are a good intro study in different Port styles, the Graham’s Six Grape is closest to a “Vintage Character Port” – non-vintage, aged four to six years, and made to resemble a Vintage Port, with a more approachable style and considerably lower price. The Taylor-Fladgate 10-Year is an old Tawny blend that has been aged in wood casks for ten years before being released. Try these two delicious ports and consider them an introduction to the legendary world of Port!
Graham’s Six Grapes Port – “Vintage Character” Port has been compared to non-vintage Champagnes, where you get an idea of the quality the house is capable of without paying the sometimes prohibitive prices of the producer’s vintage-dated bottlings. Graham’s Six Grapes is a great example of this, a hearty, robust Port that retains enough fruit for drinking anytime. This delicious and affordable wine is referred to by the winery as “the everyday Port for the Vintage Port drinker”.
Taylor-Fladgate 10Year Tawny Port – After sitting in oak casks for 10 years, this style of Tawny is less about fruit than it is about mature, mellow flavors. Wood, butterscotch, and a distinct nuttiness, the aromas and tastes are classic aged Tawny Port. One of the region’s original Port houses, this Tawny benefits from literally centuries of experience and knowledge.
Check out an in-depth tasting video of these two very different Ports - http://bit.ly/wEx2qt
Thanks very much and would love some feedback.
Port the Perfect After Dinner & Winter Time Sipper
- Reply by EMark, Jan 11, 2012.
Tom, very interesting. I am far from a Port expert--who's kidding who, I'm barely Port knowledgeable--and I appreciate your little primer.
Yesterday, there was a posting by a lady name Lindsey Noel Medeiros who was looking for advice on Port to give as a gift to her father. Why don't you check out her question and see if you can help her out. Here is the link:
- Reply by marketview1, Jan 11, 2012.
Thanks very much for commenting and the link to another blogger asking about Ports. I will check it out. Port can be a very complex category and can get really expensive too if it does entice your pallet. So that's kind of why we put this little intro together. Looking forward to talking to you more in the future.
- Reply by madmanny, Jan 17, 2012.
Having recently spent two weeks in Portugal, including 5 days in Porto and the Duoro Valley, I concur that port is a highly complex subject, but lots of fun to learn about. Never realized there are so many options and controls. There are tremendous controls over the quality of the grapes that go into port as well as what can be called a "Vintage" vs. "Late Bottled Vintage" vs. "Aged", etc. etc. Also learned that any decent port is still crushed, to a large extent, by foot - all though there are machines at some of the crushing pits that simulate the footwork.
Don't know if there are many port drinkers in the US. Can't say that I've ever gone to a friend's house and been offered a port. Perhaps that's why some of the vineyards we visited are definitely shifting a larger percentage of their production to "table" wines, or what I'd call "wine", to make it clear that it is not a port wine. I have to admit that I never bought a port from Portugal until this trip.
Bottom line, go to Portugal and get your port education there. Way better than reading about it. The people, wine, food and scenery are all equally spectacular.