Vintage Port is the most expensive and prestigious member of the Port family. Though accounting for just a fraction of total Port production, Vintage Port is the Douro's flagship style, attracting attention and speculation the world over.
A Vintage is "declared" in only the best years, when both the quality and quantity of the available fruit align. It may take up to two years after harvest for a vintage declaration to be made, and even when one Port shipper judges the conditions sufficient for Vintage Port, other shippers may not necessarily agree. This scenario is highly unusual, though, and has only occurred a handful of times in history.
Vintage Port is made from the best grapes in the Douro, typically from the Cima Corgo subregion. The grapes are left to achieve full ripeness before they are picked, vinified and then fortified with high-proof grape spirit. Vintage Port spends a short time aging in barrel – only two to three years – and is bottled, unfiltered, when it is still very dense and full of sediment. This is why Vintage Port's minimum bottle-aging period is considered to be 15 years, and it is often said that no other wine requires as much time in bottle to balance itself. The finest examples are capable of vitality well after 50 years.
Recent critical successes have helped bring about a renewal of interest in the style, and Vintage Port is often considered as an alternative to Bordeaux or Burgundy as an addition to the cellar. Decanting Vintage Port prior to serving is necessary, as the sediment in the bottle can often become crusty over time.
Produce of Portugal