A unique wine by the Duero
Port wine is one of Europe’s greatest classics. Its history is vast, and fascinating. In fact, this wine and sherry’s (about which we’ve talked about here before) are the only ones that adopt distinct elaboration processes. Meaning: they do not follow the same fermentation criteria of the world’s other wine types.
The cultivation of vines in Portugal comes from the Ancient times. Stories of Strabo, Ancient Greece’s great geographer, reveal that the inhabitants of the Northeast portion of the Iberian Peninsula used to drink wine over 2.000 years ago.
The Romans, who arrived in Portugal in the second century BC and there remained for over 500 years, cultivated vines and produced wine by the river Duero, where Port wine is currently produced. During the prosperity period which followed the creation of the rein of Portugal in 1143, the wine would be transformed into an important export product.
The first wine shipments under the name ‘Port wine’ date from 1678. Even though it was produced in Portugal’s countryside, the wine took after the name of the city of Port, on the Atlantic coast, from where it was traditionally exported.
On the other hand, Port wine as we know it was only produced much later. The first bottles were commercialized only recently, on the second half of the 17th Century.
Many of the oldest and most famous producers, like Taylor’s or Croft, are English or Scottish, since for the most part of Port wine’s history the United Kingdom was its main market. Currently, Port wine is all over the globe. That’s another connection with sherry wine, since the British were also the ones who encouraged its development.
One of the fascinating aspects of Port wine is the great variety of styles in which they are produced, each one with its characteristic flavors – going from intense wild fruits of a Reserve or a Late Bottled Vintage, going through the complex, opulent flavors of a Tawny aged in wood, until the sublime grandiosity of a Vintage.
More than any other wine, Port wine offers infinite possibilities of harmonization with foods.