What Can You Expect From The 2016 Port?

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?

Growing conditions

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.

Inclement weather

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.

Surprisingly good

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!

What is the Difference Between Tawny and Vintage Port?

Ideal Wine Company always strives to provide you the information you need to become an experienced wine drinker. This week we’re tackling a question for those people who are thinking about buying Port wine: “What’s the difference between tawny and vintage Port?”

Intro to Port

Port wine is becoming increasingly popular among British drinkers. Data from Nielsen, an international information and measurement firm, suggests that UK Port wine sales totalled over £79 million last year. This means that Port now commands the UK’s largest market share for fortified wine.

Port is beloved among UK consumers because it is a unique style of fortified wine. Similarly to Champagne, ‘Port’ is a legally protected product. Only winemakers who conform to specific production rules can call their wine a ‘Port.’ A Port must be made from grapes grown in the Douro Valley in Portugal. Popular Port grapes include Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesca and Touriga Nacional.

Looking at tawnies

Typically, Port is a sweet red commonly served as a dessert wine. But there are so many varieties! You may want to learn more about them to determine which style of Port is right for you. One of the first things you will need to research to become a Port aficionado is the difference between ‘tawny’ and ‘vintage’ Port.

Let’s look at tawny Ports first. This label is used for Ports which possess a ‘tawny’ reddish brown colour, which they acquire due to oxidisation during their long maturation process. Tawny Ports are aged in porous wooden casks for at least ten years, however this can stretch on as long as 40 years. These Ports typically possess mellow flavours, such as nuts, wood and dried fruit.

Explaining vintage Ports

In contrast, ‘vintage’ is used to refer to Ports made entirely from grapes which were grown in a single year. Here, the product is aged in oak barrels for just two years before bottling. However, vintage Ports are usually exposed to an extensive bottle ageing process. Often, they’re not ready to drink for 20 years after the year in which the grapes were first picked.

Vintage ports are often regarded as the richest and most powerful of Ports. Their limited time in the barrel allows these Ports to retain the deep red/purple colour that this style of wine typically possesses prior to ageing, but tends to lose after being exposed to extensive oxidisation. Boasting sweet, ripe fruity flavours, these Ports taste absolutely stunning and age fantastically in the bottle.

Sample a stellar vintage

In other words, tawny and vintage Ports provide you with entirely different drinking experiences. The latter is particularly well known for its powerful flavours. If you want to sample a world-class vintage Port, buy Fonsecas Finest 1977 Vintage Port from the Ideal Wine Company. The year 1977 was an outstanding time for Port production, so you’re sure to love this sumptuous vintage!