Port maturation and storage

The vintage is over and the Douro Valley is entering a quieter period. The wine remains in the wineries through the winter until the spring, but instead of hired rogas combers, there are technical experts who adjust and assess other processes that are created in the wine. They monitor the good health of wine, regulate the sulfur and alcohol content. The wine is cleared over the winter and the sludge settles on the bottoms of the tanks.

In the spring, the wines are cleared of sludge and prepared for transport to cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia on the Atlantic coast, where they will be further processed, stored and bottled. Why am I here? This place is a consequence of historical rules, when the port for export could leave the country only from this part of the city of Porto. The location of Vila Nova de Gaia on the south side of Porto is also advantageous for its constant temperature, which is unusual for Port wine.

In earlier times, wine traveled along the Douro River in barrels on ships called barcos rabelos. These ships were able to hold 30 to 70 barrels of wine. However, the journey through fast rapids and narrow gorges was very dangerous, so with the development of transport in the valley, wine began to be transported by road and rail.
Ships barcos rabelos
The barcos rabelos used to be used to transport barrels of port wine from the Douro Valley to Vila Nova de Gaia
Unloading barrels from rabelos
History – unloading of barrels from rabelos in Vila Nova de Gaia in a place called „entreposto“ (source: taylor.pt)
Annual regatta barcos rabelos
The annual barcos rabelos regatta serves to promote individual brands (source: grahams-port.com)

Before the wine is put into storage, its properties and preconditions for further use are evaluated in the laboratory. It can either be left as port ruby ​​or tawny or, in the case of higher quality and exceptional years, be intended for the production of vintage or late bottled vintage (LBV) port wines.

This variety of different types of wines is one of the most fascinating elements of Port. It results from different ways of maturing. Its potential for archiving and fortification means that port will continue to improve in barrels and bottles much longer than most other wines. Port wine barrels

As the port matures, the tannins and intense, young fruity flavors gradually recede into velvety smoothness and soft tones, which become even more pronounced with age. At the same time, the appearance of the wine changes, as its initial dark red color slowly becomes lighter and takes on shades of amber.
Wines that mature in wooden barrels are in contact with the air, thus oxidizing and developing faster than those stored in tanks or tanks. The wine in the bottle has almost no contact with the air. In a small wooden barrel, where the air access is greatest, the wine ages the fastest.

Port wine can thus be divided into two „families“. Port wines aged in wood – small or large barrels usually made of oak or chestnut and port wines aged in bottles most of their time.
Archive with vintage port
Archive with vintage port (source: taylor.pt)

What is Port Wine
Styles of Port Wine
Port Wine production
History of Port Wine
Port Wine origin