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Iberian Regions

Port

For thousands of years, predating the Greek and Roman Empires, port has been produced along the Douro River valley in Portugal. Each occupier of the valley contributed technologies that helped advance the viticulture of the region. For example, during the Roman occupation, clay treading troughs and clay containers were introduced for producing and aging the wine, respectively.

The British made a great contribution during the 17th century when they transported port to all parts of their empire. When Bordeaux, the wine of choice among the British nobility, became difficult to obtain in the 1660?s due to political problems between France and England, the British found Port to be an excellent substitute for Bordeaux. As port trade evolved, the British moved their trading headquarters to the city of Porto, located near the mouth of the Douro River. The rapid increase in popularity through the 1740?s led to abuses in the quality of port, which subsequently caused a reduction in the demand. Finally, in 1756 the Portuguese authorities set guidelines to control all aspects of production. These guidelines later became the model for the standards of wine regions in other countries.

The production practice until the early 1800?s was to add about 3 parts of vinous alcohol to every 100 parts of wine. This stopped the fermentation process in order to retain the sweetness and preserve the port for shipment. The elevated sugar and alcohol content of port compared to unfortified wine acts as a preservative thereby keeping the wine in good condition during its lengthy shipment. The production tendency over time was to gradually increase these 3 parts. Finally, the vintage in 1820 was particularly ripe and much of the sugar in the wine did not convert to alcohol during fermentation. This extraordinarily sweet and rich wine was so successful in the marketplace that producers began to increase the amount of vinous alcohol to stop the fermentation sooner and retain more of the sweetness. By 1900 approximately 20 parts of vinous alcohol per 100 were added. This style with the same 20 parts per 100 continues to today for a modern style that is both rich and sweet.

View the wines in Frontier's portfolio from Port.