Port is a sweet fortified wine from the Douro Valley in northern Portugal; the Douro River runs from west to east, from Oporto on the Atlantic Coast through to Spain. Only 40 % of all the wines in the region may be made into port each year, with the governing body, the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP), decreeing each vineyard’s annual production limits.
Port lends itself to ageing, both in wood and bottle, producing a number of differing styles within the closely defined IVP system. The IVP allows for three different types of port wine according to how it has been aged : ruby, tawny and white.
Basic Ruby -A blend of young wines generally aged in barrel or vat for two to three years. Reserve Ruby Usually grapes from better vineyards with perhaps four to six years of age in wood. These wines normally have brand names avoiding any use of the word ruby. These included Cockburns special reserve, Krohn Rio Torto and Warres Warrior
(Filtered) Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Wine of a single year, cask aged for four to six years; subsequently chill filtered, stabilised and bottled with a stopper cork. Such as Grahams and Taylors ports.
(Unfiltered) Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Very high- quality wine of a single year given a minimum of four years and a maximum of six years in cask. Bottled without fining or filtration and with a driven cork; it will continue to improve in bottle for up to a decade and will throw a sediment or crust. Popular unfiltered LBV ports are Krohn, Niepoort, Noval, Warres Traditional, Crusted Essentially a blend of un-bottled vintage wines, the eldest of which will be about four years old. Cannot be released until it has had three full years in bottle and will continue to develop for up to 15 years. Lighter and ready to drink earlier than vintage ports these wines represent tremendous value. Grahams produce a very good crusted style Port.
Vintage Declared only in exceptional years (three to four times a decade) achieving perfect balance in excellent growing conditions. A blend of fine wines from the best quintas, given two years in cask and bottled without fining or filtration ; can require 15–25 years ageing. Some of the most sort after vintage ports are Taylors, Grahams, Fonseca, Noval Nacional, Warres and Dows. Excellent vintages are 1963, 1966, 1970, 1977 1983, 1985, 1991, 1994, 2003, 2007
Quinta/Branded Vintage As a vintage from one estate or in the case of the brands, two or more. These wines are normally somewhat lighter than a full vintage, can be produced every year and will develop well in bottle.
Simple Tawny Can be a blend of white and ruby or lesser wines that have been aged in cask. Tawny with an age st atement Aged in cask for at least seven years so it develops soft, silky characteristics. Can be labelled as Reserve, 10yo, 20yo, 30yo, or 40yo. These are made from very high-quality wines that have been set aside in undeclared years. The age does not always indicate the youngest wine in the blend, but indicates an average as many of these wines are regularly refreshed.
Colheita – A wine of a single vintage, aged in cask and not bottled until it is at least eight years old ; essentially a vintage tawny.
White From gouveio (verdelho) and malvasia fina grapes ; white ports are generally fermented drier than the reds and are about three years old, although age statements are not allowed. The wines vary in style depending on the length of ageing and can be as low as 16.5 % in alcohol.