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With so many styles of port it can cause much confusion, so I'll try and simplify what's on offer...

Starting at entry level we have ruby port, which is what used to make a good old port & lemon for the girls. The basic style is matured in wood for 3 years, filtered and then bottled. Ruby Reserve such as Cockburn's Special Reserve indicates better grapes have been used.

Tawny & White ports are a combination of wines matured in wood and in stainless steel. Both are great chilled. I was once high up in the Douro Valley on a very hot day and had Sandleman Extra Dry White Port with Schweppes tonic, what a thirst quencher!

Aged Tawny are wood matured up to 40 years, these are complex and delicious. We stock 10, 20, 30 & 40 years which make a great anniversary present, Colheita is a Tawny Port from a single year, which is on the label.

LBV is a late bottled vintage highly popular wood matured between 4 and 6 years filtered and bottled, made from wine from a single none vintage year. Traditional LBV is only wood matured for 3 years then bottled unfiltered, so needs decanting but this ports will improve with further bottle ageing.

My Favourite are the single Quinta Ports which are from a single estate. Most large port houses produce these wines when a vintage hasn't been declared. These are also aged in wood for up to 2 to 3 years and bottled unfiltered resulting in them needing to be decanted.
Crusted ports are a blend from several vintages and again need decanting, these will improve with age but the blender often seeks to make these wines more approachable at a younger age than vintage.

So the top of the tree is Vintage Port what only accounts for 2% of overall port production, Not every year is declared a vintage in the Douro. The decision is made in the spring of the second year following harvest, it is never taken lightly and only the best year becomes a vintage, on average about 3 years every decade. The wine spends 3 years in wood and is then bottled, from which the ageing potential is endless. A bottle of Dows 1924 is now fetching around £940.

I bought 10 dozen Taylors 1966 in 1969 on a whim as England had just won the World Cup in that year. I paid one pound seven and six (£1.37) per bottle and sold them all for a small profit, today it's fetching £100 plus per bottle, I wish I had kept some but hey ho!!


Last Updated: 18/07/2013
Author: Mitchells Wine
Mitchells Wine

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