True Port wine comes from Portugal, with the commercial center of production being the port city of Oporto. This town is situated at the mouth of the Douro River on the Atlantic, the steep and winding banks of which constitute the growing area for the grape varieties that go into Port wines.
The history of this wine style goes back a few hundred years to 1678. The mercantile spirit of the English merchants who settled in the area and built the "lodges" is the main reason the trade in this type of wine flourished. What was special about the wine is the fact that it was fortified with brandy to withstand long sea voyages. The harsh Douro wines smoothed out and their flavor was considerably enhanced this way.
The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1703 allowed preferential customs tariffs for Port wines sold in England. At that time a trade embargo had been imposed on France, and it became a "patriotic act" to drink the wines from Oporto. To this day the main markets for Port wines are the United Kingdom and Western Europe, lead, ironically, by France, where ruby and tawny styles are consumed!
Among the various categories of Port are different styles according to the blending techniques and the aging process. The production of Ruby Port is by far the greatest of the various styles, with Vintage Ports (all from a single year that is "declared," meaning that the quality is high enough) making up a small fraction of the total. Vintage Ports are the more expensive, collectable and sought after bottlings. They need at minimum a decade in the bottle to begin to show proper development and style.
The 2000 vintage is quite collectable and the quality is very good to excellent. The problem came at the beginning of the year with a poor fruit set due to wet weather. The weather improved and cooperated nicely during the growing season, resulting in grapes with good ripe character. The harvest was about 75% of normal yield.
1977 was a legendary year for Port. We are offering several brands at very good prices, considering they are now 25 years old and ready to drink!
Just call or e-mail us with your order or questions. We will be happy to assist you with a pick-up or shipping request. Call us at (206) 284-8306. Email us at email@example.com
Web Sites We Recommend Visiting
To further your wine education and appreciation of the pleasures of the table, here are some good quality sites.
Decanter Magazine has been a mainstay for the wine consumer for some 30 years. Published in England, it has excellent quality reporting and in-depth articles on wine and other beverages. www.decanter.com
Bordeaux lovers should not miss visiting this site. It originates in the Paris Musee du Vin, then you have a wide choice of links to chateau info, area maps and beautiful photos that one can dream right into. There is a button for the English version. Go for a walk among the "old stones." www.museeduvin.com
Epicurious is the name of a very inclusive site that incorporates Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines. For the serious foodie and those who want to add to their knowledge of the pleasures of the kitchen and table. Huge recipe archive. For wine info click "drink." There is also an area of this site with product reviews that can be a lot of fun. www.eat.epicurious.com
The greater Seattle area is fortunate enough to have a large wine group for consumers called The Enological Society of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle Chapter. See their World Wide Web site for an update on what wonderful wine and food events the Seattle and other chapters have planned. www.seattlewinesociety.org
For information on the traditional as well as emerging wines of Spain, visit this page of the Food Associates far-flung website. You can find articles on numerous cuisines and wines on the other tabs. www.wine&foodassociates.com/rioja.html
If it is brewing that grabs your interest, this site will give you the history of brewing along with cameos on various small producers. Menus incorporating beers and foods. Very artistic and well done site creation. www.merchantduvin.com