Reports recently confirmed that this year’s Port grape harvest was “surprisingly good,” raising hopes over the quality of the vintage. Ideal Wine Company asks: what can you expect from the 2016 Port?
Port is a fortified wine produced in the Douro Valley region of Northern Portugal. Like Champagne, Port wine is a legally protected product, so it must be made according to certain rules. While the drink can be produced from over a hundred grape varieties, there are only five that are commonly used. These are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Cão.
Similar to wine, the quality of the grapes used for Port depends on the region’s ‘terroir.’ According to Wine Folly, an industry website, this term refers to “how a particular region’s climate, soils and aspect (terrain) affect the taste of wine.” The Douro Valley has the perfect climate, soil and terrain for Port, but the weather is also a determining factor, so some years produce superior vintages to others.
We already know that 2016 has seen bursts of inclement weather envelop France, damaging the country’s grape output. Earlier this year hailstorms hit Cognac, home to its famous eponymous brandy, badly damaging around 6% to 8% of vineyard crops. Meanwhile, this spring Burgundy was subjected to heavy frosts, with estimates indicating that they ruined 46% of the area’s vineyards by over 30%.
The Douro Valley didn’t escape unscathed either. The 2016 growing year began with a warm winter and a hotter than average December and January. Coupled with a colder, wetter spring than usual, this created the perfect conditions for mildew, which can ruin grapes. Also the region experienced hailstorms in July, resulting in “significant” grape losses and a lack of uniform maturity at harvest time.
Despite these factors, Port producer Sogevinus claims, the harvest was “surprisingly good.” Commenting, a report from the company was quoted by The Drinks Business, an industry portal, says: “The maturation analysis showed good results, and our visits to the vineyards confirmed this year was going to be good. Although the berries and bunches were smaller than other years, they showed a good pulp/skin ratio, a sign of richer and more complex wines. But the maturation of the parcels in the vineyards was not uniform, which required careful planning in the picking decisions.”
Going on, the report there was “freshness, medium acidity and good colour” in its red Port wine grapes, with a good overall health and yield. It added that the Touriga Francesa, along with Touriga Nacional grapes were particularly well-formed and should create “rich and fat” wines. Elaborating, the report revealed: “The Port wines [for 2016] are already proving to be clean and quite aromatic, and concentrated in colour. However, their tannins are not quite fully rounded, which tells us the wines from this harvest will need ageing time to refine and reveal all their potential.”
Buy Port wine
It looks as though the 2016 Port vintage will be good, with strong colours and rich flavours. If you want to see what a fantastic Port looks like, before the 2016 vintage starts being released, buy the Fonseca’s Finest 1977 Vintage Port from Ideal Wine Company. A truly classic vintage, it’ll blow you away!